Joseph’s Journey

Joseph wasn’t born deaf, but somewhere between the ages of 3-6 he developed single-sided deafness (SSD) on his left side.

Joseph’s auditory nerves for both ears were abnormal since birth and somehow his left nerve was damaged and quit functioning.  Perhaps it was his numerous trips to the hospital due to pulmonary illnesses during that age. Or it was the time he bumped his head and had to get stitches. Even though we will never know why he has SSD, because of a recent surgery, Joseph’s right nerve will soon receive all the sounds around him through the Baha, or a bone-anchored hearing aid.

Joseph has been through a lot. He deserves this and we were finally able to help him.

Joseph, a 12 year-old going into the 7th grade, had an osseo-integrated device implanted into his skull on his birthday this June. The Baha will be fitted onto the titanium post after it ossifies and is solid enough to safely support the 2×2 inch device. This may be 4-6 weeks after surgery, depending on how well it heals. The hearing aid will receive the sound from the left side and, through the titanium post, his skull will transmit the sound waves to his inner ear on the right side. Technology also allows him to have directional awareness so he will be able to determine where the sound is coming from. We are thankful for Dr. Kryzer of Wichita Ear Clinic for his skill during surgery, for his enthusiasm to help those who are hard of hearing, and for giving Joseph another chance.

Dr. Kryzer performed the surgery at Via Christi at St. Francis. Joseph’s dad and I were with him throughout. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald house the night before since he was admitted at 6:30 a.m., which was a neat experience in of itself. We only stayed one night because, despite the fact that the procedure included drilling into his skull, it was outpatient surgery.

“I was very excited. But nervous that they might screw up,” Joseph said.  Joseph was only nauseous for a little while in the afternoon so he was discharged at 6:30 in the evening. He was greeted by his younger sister and brother, Elizabeth (10) and Cole (7) who were with their aunt Amy. (We sometimes call her Crazy Aunt Amy, a title that she should be proud of!)

Via Christi

These people were amazing.

He is now recovering nicely. “I can’t go swimming yet,” he said. “That’s no fun.” Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Cole feel bad that he has to take it easy for a while, mostly because they can’t rough-house yet. But they are excited for him, too.

Even though Joseph’s dad and I are not together anymore, we worked together to provide this opportunity for him. We were proud of how brave he was before, during, and after the surgery. Everything went so well, we kept looking for what was going to screw up so we could prevent it, but nothing has so far.

Throughout the whole process of doctor appointments, setting the date of the surgery, saving money and gathering funds to try to meet the co-insurance cost of $3500, we have received support from both of our families and people in the Bennington area where I live and the Lincoln area where I work. This came in the form of donations, words of encouragement, prayers, suggestions and ideas.

In fact, I couldn’t keep up that day with all the text messages and communication on Facebook and Twitter. Of course, I kept posting pictures and updates on how he was doing to share with everyone. I was pretty excited for him. I still am. Joseph is not finished with this journey. His healing is ongoing until he’s ready for the Baha.

It will change his life. People don’t realize how much he misses every day from SSD. Even I forget to speak to him on his right side at times, and I’ve been around it for seven years. Most people ask me how he is doing since this is about all I’ve talked about for a month now. I’m very thankful for everyone who has supported him.

He was able to try out a tester Baha on a headband in March 2014. This preview of how it could be for Joseph motivated us to try surgery, something that all parents are weary of for their children. His reaction solidified our decision, though, as I smile through tears to see his face light up when he tried it out, something that will only be better as the real thing. “It was amazing. My dad said my name and I turned to my left,” Joseph said. “I can’t wait to get it for real.”