Sound Check Mama

cochlear implant, hearing, music

Interesting name for a blog, isn’t it? I chose it for two reasons: because we have to check that Riley is hearing with her implants every day and because we love music.

We use the Ling 6 Sounds to make sure her implants are working properly and that she is hearing all the sounds she needs to to understand what’s being said. Daniel Ling, an expert in audiology and hearing loss, developed the system.

Ling 6

Of course, sound check also refers to what musicians do before a show to make sure their instruments, amps, microphones, speakers and voices work properly.

Hear now. And always.

cochlear implant, deafness/hearing loss, family, hearing

I hope Cochlear’s tagline fits my daughter, Riley. She has bilateral cochlear implants – the first in October 2003, the second in April 2007. She was diagnosed with severe to profound, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss at 18 months, which is a long way of saying she could hear virtually nothing because of damage to the cochlea in each ear.

Today she is 6 and is excelling in kindergarten. She plays soccer and softball, loves to dance, sing and swim, and except for her brightly colored ear accessories, she’s a normal little girl.

This blog will tell about our journey from silence to sound. And since I’m starting five years into the process, “flashbacks” will appear as I dig through old journals, photo albums and videotapes.

The work is hard, but the frustration and fear are all worth it when I hear Riley’s sweet voice saying, “I love you, Mommy.”

Talk Talk


A Children’s Hospital rep called this morning to ask if Ryan or I would like to speak to a local Rotary Club meeting about Riley’s hearing loss and how she’s doing now. Yikes! I’d like to do it, but I’m not great at public speaking. However, it’s only 3-5 minutes; surely I can handle that!?!

Anyway, we went to a local minor league baseball game in July because it was free and in honor of Chidren’s patients. (Riley had her cochlear implant surgeries at Children’s in Birmingham.) The kids played games, we had hot dogs & drinks and we got to watch a baseball game. We got Riley’s picture made and filled out a form with her story. That’s how they knew about us and why they called.

The rep said we could even bring Riley; “everyone would love to see her,” she said. It’s a 7 a.m. breakfast meeting, and we’d probably have her at school by 8:30. I know having her there would make it much easier for me to talk to a roomful of business people, and it would make the story more concrete for them, too.

I think I’ll do it. Where are my index cards? I need to write it all down and practice. 🙂

Daddy’s Hands

deafness/hearing loss, family, hearing, sports

I watched a slideshow of my 4-week-old nephew today (he’s gorgeous and sweet and beautiful) and after seeing a photo of my bro and his wife holding the baby in their hands, I noticed something: We have our dad’s hands, wrinkly knuckles and all. Thankfully my fingers are a bit slimmer, so they don’t look like man hands. 😉

We may never be hand models (well, we could be the “before” pictures), but our hands have been there to hold on to through some tough times. Like my dad’s prostate cancer, my mom’s recent heart scare, finding out Riley was deaf and her cochlear implant surgery, my brother’s hospitalization for dehydration when he was playing college football. They’ve also been great at high-fiving one another: after my brother’s many touchdown runs and 3-pointers, or my triples and strikeouts (I was a pitcher). After my dad’s retirement. After my mom finally became a grandmother…and for the second time. After our kids were born.

It’s funny how you can know a person forever and still discover new things. I’ve never noticed that our hands are the same until tonight. My brother and I are very different in a lot of ways: he’s way cooler than I am. 🙂 But we’re both great parents, good athletes, smart, and we love our family. We may disagree on politics (actually we’ve never discussed it in depth, so maybe we do agree!), we may not like the same kind of music, we may disagree about money and schools and cars, but there’s one thing we will always agree on:

WE ARE FAMILY, and we’ll always be there for each other, wrinkly hands and all.