Friday, March 24, 2006

Show and Tell in My Preschool Class

On the Monday before my surgery, I told the children in my classroom of 3-6 year olds that I was going to have this surgery on Thursday. I used the "Bionic Buddy" stuffed monkey from Advanced Bionics, the manufacturer of my CI, along with the coloring book. The monkey is mostly used for children who will get the CI, to have a "buddy" who has a CI, too. (His stays on with velcro rather than a magnet!) The coloring book tells the story of how Buddy couldn't hear well, was fitted with two hearing aids, and then went on to get a CI. It tells about going to the hospital and how happy he is with his new hearing.

The kids were mesmerized. I work at a school that mainstreams D/HOH students using cued speech (see and, and I have a student in my class, age 6, who has a CI. He was SO excited, and brought in his koala from his CI company (the parent company is in Australia...!). I showed them that I have two hearing aids, just like Buddy. I showed them a picture of the internal part of the device and told them how I had to have surgery to get it put in my head, just like Buddy did. I told them the doctor would write his name on my ear to be sure he operated on the right one! And I told them that after he cut very carefully to put the device in, I would get stitches on part of it and STAPLES on the other part. My students thought that was hysterical.

We have a huge model of the ear in the elementary classroom, so I used that to show them about the cochlea and how the implant would go through the bone into the curl of the part shaped like a seashell.

After surgery, I sent them an email with a picture of my doctor (waving to them!), a picture of me in my hospital gown and huge bandage on my head eating crackers, a picture of me and Joe, ready to go home, and a picture of me at home with the flowers they had given me the day before. The other teacher had printed it up and taped it on the wall in the classroom.

SO...I went back in today for a visit, before I get the staples taken out tomorrow. This time *I* was the show-and-tell! Forget the monkey; this is the real thing! And at the end of telling them about the surgery, they could ask me questions. Did it hurt? No, they gave me medicine to make me go to sleep so I wouldn't feel anything. But sometimes it hurts a little now. Was I scared in the hospital? No, everyone was very nice and took very good care of me. Some of the children talked about going to the doctor and getting a shot or being taken care of by a doctor. And, because of the email pictures, they all know my doctor's name!

Then came the most fun part: As I dismissed them from the line to get their coats to go outside to play, I let them come up and see my staples. That was a riot and a half. Some of them weren't so sure, some of them thought it was the coolest thing. The staples are metal and silver and look just like the staples in our stapler in the classroom, just smaller.

Then the office manager came in with a big envelope with a large card from them--she was about to mail it, but just gave it to me instead. It is SO cute. It says "We are so glad TO HEAR that you are doing so well! We miss you!" All of the children signed it and drew pictures all over it. One little boy came up to me to show me which was his signature: he can't quite write his name yet, but he managed his first initial, another letter, and his last initial, "And this is the period after it."

I rested for a bit in the nap room (how handy!) before I went in to the elementary children for the same presentation. They had not seen the email pictures, so one of the teachers went to get it from our classroom. They wanted to know why I was eating crackers. Because the medicine that makes me go to sleep so I won't feel the operation also makes you feel sick to your stomach.

I showed them on the big ear model where the surgery was and how the doctor inserted the magnet part. I told them the doctor carved a small hole or indentation in the bone of my skull to keep the magnet part from moving. One of the oldest children wanted to know how thick the skull is! Good question! I have no idea, but I do know he never got too close to my brain on the other side of the bone. I'll have to ask Dr. Micco when I see him tomorrow to get the staples out.

AND....IF...IF my incision is healed enough...I may even be able to get the external portion of my device tomorrow! That is the processor that hangs on my ear and the transmitter that will magnet on to the implant...that will turn ON the implant and activate the electrode and actually send some blips and beeps to my brain that may actually be perceived as SOUND!

So, tomorrow has the potential to be my hook-up day, my activation day, my first REAL day with an operating, functioning cochlear implant! (No wonder I'm up at 1AM telling you about it...) That appointment is at 8AM in downtown Chicago; I ought to be out of the house by 7AM to make it there on time through Chicago's infamous morning rush hour. (Mid day with no traffic it only takes about 35-40 minutes to get down there.)

Stay tuned for more exciting postings!


Anonymous Katie said...

Wow! It's awesome that you could tell your kids about that and they were so receptive.

I'll be coming down next weekend and will definitely come see you and do whatever you need me to do to help you learn how to hear :-)

10:48 AM  

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