Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Warning: It's a long one!

Brenden made these notes for everyone before we left for Seattle.  Others said "I hope you have a good time."
I. am. tired.  Brenden and I got back to Anchorage on Thursday last week.  Brenden's implant was activated on Friday.  He says it sounds like "ding, ding" like a bell when he hears sounds.  For anyone unfamiliar with cochlear implants, a person does not "hear" through the ear like a hearing aid.  Sound is transmitted via electrode into the cochlea and is learned to be perceived as sound in the brain.  Some people hear it like a fax machine, others like fingernails on a chalkboard, but it is different for everyone.  "Hearing" takes time and training.  Brenden has a lot of work ahead of him.  His ear is still sore and his head is still very swollen, but he hasn't had pain medicine since the day of the surgery.  He is so brave and strong.
Brenden playing listening games
Friday Brenden and I drove home in fairly good conditions.  The roads were wet and a little slick, but not too bad.  
Frozen waterfalls on the highway
I got home to two little boys who were excited to see me and one very tired looking grandma.  Doug's mom flew up and stayed with the boys, like the true angel that she is.  They tested and tried her patience.  Saturday we did NOTHING.  Okay, well, I tried to catch up on a few things, but for the most part, we did nothing.  Sunday we drove back to Anchorage on completely dry and clear roads.  It looked like fall.  The snow was melted off of the side of the road and everything!  It was a quick, easy drive, taking only about 2.5 hours.

Sunday night was rough.  This time I took all 3 kids back up with me.  They were all so worked up by being in a hotel that they didn't want to sleep.  I laid down with Ethan at 9:00, but Brenden and Nolan were still up and going.  During the night, Ethan had a terrible fever.  I woke up to his little feet burning a hole in my arm.  Luckily, I had some ibuprofen for Brenden's swelling that I gave to Ethan.  He and I were up for quite a bit of the night.  Brenden woke up at 4:00 for a little while, but went back to bed.  Nolan woke up at 5:00, but I managed to talk him into going back to sleep for a little while too.

Monday Brenden had an audiology appointment at 2:15.  We were kicked out of our hotel at noon, so we decided to go to Walmart.  We don't have one of those here.  Okay, so I had forgotten my deodorant and I really needed some.  We wandered through the store for a little while and only had about 5 things in our cart when we headed to the checkout.  We were the next people in line when the fire alarm went off and we were kicked out of the store.  We waited for a little while, but could only take the 5 degree temperature for so long, so we went out in search of the illusive Safeway gas station.  Blah blah blah, a little while and lunch later, we went to the audiologist.

Side note: I don't recommend artificial sweetener for small children.  It made them pee every 5 minutes for the next hour.

Brenden shocked and surprised the audiologist.  She had already kind of figured out how she was going to map (aka. program) his implant, but he just kept telling her to turn it up louder.  Generally, they start out at a pretty low volume and over a month and a half, slowly turn it up to introduce sound to an ear that's never heard.  In theory, he should still not be able to understand anything with his new implant alone, but he was able to decipher a few words from a given set.  Brenden's old implant battery died, so he was left wearing the new one alone.

With a dead battery, Brenden was back to deaf.  All of the sudden, Brenden was walking away from me toward the elevator, Nolan was running one way down the hall and Ethan headed in the other direction.  Suddenly it was like one of those nightmares I used to have where I had to choose which child to save.  Brenden wasn't looking at me, so I couldn't yell for him to help or even come back.  Nolan doesn't listen anyway, and Ethan just doesn't quite "get it."  I ran to get Brenden before he got on the elevator and was lost from sight, grabbed Nolan and kind of pushed him (as nice as possible) to the ground so I had a short head start on running to get Ethan.  In the end, Heidi, the audiologist scooped up both Ethan and Nolan while I tried to sign to Brenden that we weren't done yet.  (Exhale loudly.)

Once we were done, we headed back to the car.  Ethan was now 4 hours late for his nap, so I was thrilled when he fell asleep quickly.  The drive was HORRENDOUS to every degree of horrible there is.  I called Doug a few minutes into our drive and warned him we were headed out and don't expect us anytime soon.  There were extreme white-out conditions and I couldn't see 10 feet in front of the car.  About 10 minutes into that drive, Nolan announced that he needed to pee.  I found a place to pull-off, but the snow was so deep, I couldn't get very far off the road.  I was very nervous that someone would hit my WHITE suburban from behind as Nolan was standing in the door to pee.  I did get honked at quite a few times and a few too many cars came too close for comfort.  In the end, Nolan did NOT need to pee, but managed to wake up Ethan from the draft in the door.  

Ethan then SCREAMED for the next 4 hours of our drive home.  I couldn't see ANYTHING and I think that, had there been oncoming traffic, it would have hit me more than once.  I tried to drown Ethan out with the radio, but there were no radio stations to be found.  Lucky for me, I had a cd in the car (something that almost NEVER happens - I treasure any quiet time there is in life), and I turned it up to drown out Ethan as much as possible.  The children were being punished for misbehaving by having no movie in the car, but I think that it was really just punishment for me.  Brenden only had on his new implant and was annoying Nolan as much as possible, without looking at me so that I couldn't say a single thing about it.  I ended up without anything in my center console because I kept throwing things at him to try to get his attention.  That was the WORST drive I have ever had.  As if the weather wasn't enough, the kids just had to add to it.  I considered pulling over and crying, while allowing the car to be buried in snow.  I also considered turning back and trying again another day.  BUT, we made it home and we don't have to make the drive again for another 5 days.

Pictures from the drive:
(these are the "safe" points where I felt ok to take one hand off the wheel for a picture)
Last night after we arrived home, I asked Brenden to go get something out of the car.  He came back in a few minutes later and said there was a moose in the way, but wondered if he could go pet the moose.  Uh, NO!
While I was in Seattle, the Utah School for the Deaf decided they had urgent business for me that had to be resolved NOW NOW NOW.  I was as accommodating as I could be with a little boy having surgery and none of my normal resources.  I returned home again last night to an email informing me that there was a deadline yesterday that they had forgotten to tell me about and they needed handouts for my conference I am doing in May by today.  NO WAY!  I found out I was doing the conference right before I left for Seattle and all of the sudden it has to be done and they need handouts to publish.  HA!

Back on the home front (while Brenden and I were in Seattle):

Kevin took Doug clamming.  Doug knows Kevin from High School.
In volcano news: after being lowered from "orange" to "yellow" status last week, we are back at orange after several earthquakes and a little spewed ash.  No full-blown eruption yet, but still, ash is a big step.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I feel tired just reading what you had to go through. Great pictures and good luck with the next journey in five days!

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear he is adjusting and know of the long haul ahead. I am so sorry about the driving, I think I would have turned around and went for another hotel stay. Thanks for being safe!
And as far as USDB, welcome to my life! Jamie

Nolo and Lauren said...

Sorry to hear about your awful drive home. You're doing great with everything. Sorry we weren't able to meet up in Seattle. Maybe some day soon.

Love the pictures.

Emily Hurtado said...

At least he asked to pet the moose before just doing it. I'm glad you are all safe at home.

Mel said...

Erin, seriously, every time I read your blog, I think. "wow, she is amazing." I'm pretty sure I would go crazy if I had to deal with everything you do. Just this week, Quinn has been sick and I thought I would go nuts!! so really...you are amazing!

JoLynne said...

You ARE amazing-reading about your drive made me want to cry FOR you, well ok it is that time of the month too

The Boehme Family said...

To be honest, I think I've already gone crazy on the inside, Mel. Now it's just waiting to surface and make itself known.