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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul
Monday, June 25, 2007
SurgeryMy son Mark had cochlear implant surgery today. This is Mark's second cochlear implant: He became deaf at age one after almost dying from bacterial meningitis. At 18 months, he got his first cochlear implant and the ensuing 8 years have been a whirlwind of progress, as we've watched Mark develop amazing listening and speech skills and finally mainstream into the local public school system and just excel at every step along the way. It's likely that Mark will never hear normally again, not like most of you do, but he does amazingly well. It's inspirational and humbling.
Today's surgery was an attempt to make his hearing even better. A second implant won't "double" his hearing capabilities or anything. Indeed, after eight years of non-use, it's possible that that side of his head will never process hearing again. But if all goes well, over time, he will gain some crucial improvements. The ability to hear directionally (in "stereo"). An appreciation of music, perhaps. Clearer hearing in crowded and loud environments. That kind of thing.
Due to ossification in Mark's remaining cochlea, the doctors were originally planning to do a partial implant only (8 of 16 nodes). But when they got in there, they discovered the hardening was much less than what they had seen on the x-rays, so they were able to do a full implant (16 nodes), equal to what he has on the other side. Absolutely amazing.
Before the good news came, things were tense and uncertain. I hope I'll never again experience anything as painful as holding Mark's comatose one-year-old body in my arms, watching him not react as doctors tried to revive him, but I was certainly reminded of that this morning: Mark asked me to be with him when he went into surgery. So I held his hand as he succumbed to the anesthesia. He was scared but trying to be brave. And as he drifted off, I had one of those moments only parents can understand.
Anyway, all is well and Mark is coming home tomorrow. But events like this have a clarifying effect. You never know what life is going to throw at you. And most of us don't realize what we have until it's taken away. And yeah, that's all very trite. Unless of course something bad happens to someone you care about very much.
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