Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cochlear Celebration-2011

We have our hotel reservations for Cochlear Celebration 2011 at Walt Disney World. After looking over some of the videos from past celebrations it looks like it is going to be a blast. We can't wait to meet some other families and see what new things Cochlear is working on. As for their latest, the Nucleus 5, we love it. It is so much easier keeping it on Landon's ears. He now wears the BTE's with no additional equipment to keep it on-no snugfits, no toupee tape, nothing. The only time it seems to fall off is when he is wrestling with his older brothers but the freedoms did that too-even with the snugfits and tape, so we can't complain.
As far as any speech improvement, we can see a huge change in his language since switching to the N5. He's at a point now we have to have another language evaluation Friday to see if he will even qualify to continue receiving speech therapy through our insurance. We had moved down to only once a month AVT sessions and insurance is saying that is maintenance which they don't cover-they only cover if there is a delay. So we'll have to see how his testing goes and decide from there what to do.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What we've been up to

These past few months have been super busy. We have a new addition in the family--my brother and sister-in-law had their first baby~~Mateo Jack. We took a quick trip to Austin, Texas to meet the cutie. It was nice to get away for a few days...and the weather in Austin was so nice compared to the 100 degree heat we've been fighting with all summer.

We had Landon's birthday party today at Chuck E. Cheese. This was the first year he really got into the whole birthday thing. All he has talked about the last 2 months is he wanted a choo-choo birthday cake at Chuck E. Cheese-so that's what he got. He had a blast. I can't believe he's going to be 4 years old tomorrow--it seems like I just had him and we started on his journey to hearing.

Here's a quick video of the last few months.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The man behind the miracle

The international Lister Medal, one of the most prestigious honors a surgeon can receive, was won by Australia's Graeme Clarke this week. We profile the man who made the 'bionic ear' a reality.

For 10 years, Graeme Clark had been working tirelessly to develop an implant that would help the deaf to hear. The theory made sense. The electronics had been developed, and the design was near finalised.

But there was one seemingly insurmountable hurdle: how to actually get the implant into the intricate spiral of the inner ear.

During one Melbourne summer in 1977, he took his young children to the beach to escape the heat. While they were playing in the shallows, Clark noticed a seashell lying on the ground - and that its helical structure was a crude replica of the human cochlea.

Inspiration hit. He pulled up some grass blades and experimented with teasing them into the shell's opening. Owing to their flexible tips and stiff bases, the blades slid smoothly into the tightening spiral. It revealed a simple solution to a complex problem.

Read the rest of the story here

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

App for learning to listen sounds

Eric just finished an app with the learning to listen sounds. You can see it at the itunes store here

You can also see it on his website

Friday, May 14, 2010

Landon's technology journey

Thanks to all for the kind words about Landon's iPhone application. I can tell you it was fun and frustrating experience to conceptualize and develop the application. I thought it would be neat to see how my little technologist has evolved along with his technology.

The first attempt was nothing more than a failure. Trying to get the bilaterals working with a Y connector into each ear, with you plugged into it with the parent microphone to see if there was sound was nothing less than a nightmare when working with a one year old. I was finally able to just get a normal YouTube video working to start teaching him about music, but was never able to get the equipment to work as I wanted. The first generation iPod presented its own set of challenges. The touch interface for a one year old was just too tempting. Also, I never felt I was giving him a real-world experience with that equipment. Here is our first major attempt at 1 1/2 years of age. Hot dog dance worked, but not well.
Based on the limitations of the CI's connectivity and the first generation iPod touch, I decided that the second attempt should be a web based, computer only approach. I developed The Sound Garden on the UseMyEars website. That work ok, but it was still not sufficient because a 2 year old does have problems with mouse manipulation. Yet another epic fail.

One day in Radio Shack, I go there or the Apple Store or Best Buy for lunch sometimes, I was looking at headphones when I ran across this handy gadget.

Ah finally, now we are getting somewhere, I was able to plug this into the generation 1 iPod and cut out all the wires for the CI. I access the UME website's Sound Garden and bamo, instant Ling 6 bliss. Except there was one more problem, you needed to have WiFi access for it to work. Another epic fail, but not so monumental.

Ok, so 9 months ago I was browsing the shelves of the Apple store and saw a book on Cocoa Touch. I knew about the SDK previously and attempted to write a few apps, but the iPhone was so new that documentation was sparse at best. Additionally, the growing pains for the App Store is well documented and I decided work on the app and not publish it for a while. Lots of reading, writing bad code, locking up my iPod touch, and running the program about a million times (you know the normal development process), I finally got a rock solid version of a highly mobile self-contained sound application; Ling 6 Sound App.

I am even more excited now that I see the iPod touch coming with internal speakers and the iPad version of the Ling 6 app is really nice for Landon. The sound on that device is superior to the iPhone and iPod touch. I hope that one day I can get him an iPad to keep up his "studies."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ling 6 App for the iPhone,iPod Touch,iPad

Eric wrote an application for working on the Ling 6 for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad~~~~and it has been approved by Apple and is now available for purchase in the iTunes store. WAY TO GO ERIC!!!! We were at a point where Landon was tired of doing the typical Ling 6 test in the morning so Eric came up with the idea to do an application so Landon thinks he's playing now and loves doing the test. We can also change the volume on it so we can test his hearing at different levels. He loves to just play with the application during the day saying the sounds~~it helps me by keeping him busy in the grocery store. He's starting to show more independence with his hearing - such as coming to us when the batteries die and helping to change them - so this app will allow him when he's a little older to test his implants himself to make sure they are working properly.

You can see it at the iTunes store here

He's already got ideas for several more applications he is going to write for these devices. His next application is going to be one for teaching the learning to listen sounds. He also wants to figure out how to write one that will quiz the user--for example have it ask "what makes the aahhh sound" and then they will have to pick out the correct picture from a few choices.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Landon has been doing great with his N5 processors. We just thought he talked a lot before---now he's never quiet. The only thing we can figure is he has to be hearing better with the new ears. Even his AVT made the comment he is more talkative during his therapy. They stay on a lot better too. He has started to get more independent with his hearing--asking for his ears in the morning and asking to keep them on later at night. He has also been wanting to help with changing the batteries in them. Today he came to me holding his left ear open--apparently the batteries had died so he pulled the cover off, threw the old batteries in the garbage, and came to ask me for some new batteries. I gave him the 2 batteries, he put them in the right way, put the cover back on and turned it on. We've been using the old mic loc tubing off the freedoms to hold it on so I had to put that back on but it was definitely a sign he is growing up and taking charge of his hearing.

We got an EOB on the processors from his insurance and got quite a shock---it said our portion was $25,000. Needless to say I sent a quick email to our case manager to check in to this. She replied back that it was processed incorrectly. The insurance company processed it as DME (durable medical equipment) which has a cap of $2,500. She said it should have been processed as prosthetics because that is what they consider his ears and there is no cap on that. So we will end up paying our deductible and then our max out of pocket for his upgrades--which is not bad considering insurance was billed almost $28,000-and this was after the trade-in allowance for his freedoms. He is definitely hearing better-talking more-and they are staying on better--so it's worth every penny.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Connor and Bella's party

We decided to do a combined birthday party for Connor and Bella. Between Easter, Connor's first communion, and Eric going out of town, they would have ended up being a week apart so we figured we'd make it easier on everyone and just do them together. After beautiful weather all week, we had a cold front come through Saturday so the day of the party was freezing.

Bella fell asleep in the middle of opening her presents.

She had to be woken up for the cake. She didn't make as big a mess as the boys did.

Connor's half of the party was Saints themed. I cannot believe he is going to be 8. They grow up too fast.

Bella also slept through her pinata.

Bella's new trick her daddy showed her~~~really lady-like :)

Landon using Bella's car to make an indoor drive-in~~he was watching Mickey Mouse.

Can't believe she is already 1!! This first year has flown by.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Landon's new ears are here!!

We got Landon's new ears in--2 weeks after the order was placed. We were told it would be 6-8 weeks but could be longer so we were pleasantly surprised when we got the notice they had shipped after a week and a half. We go on the 22nd to get them mapped. I took some pictures comparing the Nucleus 5 to the Freedoms for those families out there trying to decide if it is worth it to upgrade. There is a big difference in the width between the two processors and the Nucleus 5 seems to sit higher off the top of the ear so they don't hang down near as long as the Freedoms--you can't even see them from the front. If anyone wants a particular picture of something just let me know and I'll post it for you.

Just a clarification for those that don't know, the Freedom (his old ear) is the beige processor and the Nucleus 5 (his new ear) is the dark brown processor.

Doesn't look like a huge difference, but the N5 is shorter. It may be even smaller once we get the rechargeable batteries since there is a compact rechargeable and a standard rechargeable.

The difference in width is huge. It sits so much better on his ear being skinnier.

Wearing the N5--from the front all you see is the clear ear hook over the top-you don't see the bottom of the processor at all.

The N5 from the side. It sits higher on his ear than the Freedom but doesn't hang down as long.

wearing his Freedom

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Landon’s Lip Reading Abilities

Over the past few weeks I have noticed that Landon has become really good a reading lips. The other night while I was watching the Saints NFC Championship game, he came to hand me he ears; which he readily pulls off when he gets tired at night. After he place the devices in my hand, I instinctively asked him if he was ready to go to sleep to which he answered, “Yep, night, night.”

In that instant it made me pause, and I thought to myself “Did he hear that?” Of course, within one second of that thought the reality came back to my mind. It was interesting to me to see how far I could take it and he was able to answer readily to the few question I asked him about getting his night-cap; chocolate milk. I have begun to force myself to speak to him verbally even when I know his “ears” are not being used to help develop his lip reading. He certainly is one smart little dude…

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New ears on order!!

Landon's new ears are on order!! Cochlear has joined up with another company-Mediquip- to help people get approval/purchase the N5 upgrades. Since we already had approval from our insurance, the process was a little faster for us. It does save us from having to come out of pocket for the full cost and waiting for reimbursement from insurance--which is wonderful!! Mediquip got a copy of the approval from our insurance, they have ordered his N5's, and when they get them will send them to us. They will then get reimbursed from insurance and we will only have to come out of pocket our portion of what insurance doesn't cover. We are sooo excited!! Hopefully these will be a lot more durable then the plastic freedoms because Landon is definitely hard on his ears!

For another parent that asked our insurance, through Eric's work, is PPO Plus. We've been really lucky with insurance through all this. The way it is set up, Eric's work has their own medical review board that approves/precerts insurance requests and then passes it on to the insurance company to pay. With the upgrade, we had Landon's audiologist write a letter,which the surgeon signed, requesting the upgrade. Our case manager put it before the medical review board and it was approved. One thing that I think has helped us through all of this with Landon is he is the first person there to go through something like this. His being approved for simultaneous bilateral implants and now the upgrades is basically setting the precedent for anyone that will come behind him needing this. It doesn't mean we haven't had to do any work. When we put it before the review board for the surgery, I had a book of research and insurance policies that we gave them to back up our request. But I have to say we have had a very easy time with approvals compared to most families going through this. As many problems as people generally have with insurance, our company has been wonderful through all this.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Just wanted to share with everyone that we received an email from our case management worker. Landon has been approved to upgrade all 4 of his Freedoms for the new Nucleus 5 sound processors. Still trying to decide on what color we are going to order. Here's a link to take a look at the new "ears" he'll be getting.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone!! I can't believe how fast 2009 flew by. Hopefully 2010 will slow down some so I can get back to regular blogging.
The kids are all getting over colds right now. Connor started on Christmas and it's gone through all of us. Bella and Landon both got ear infections with theirs. They are all either on medicine or just finishing up so hopefully they'll all be getting well soon.
Landon's speech is getting better and better. He's talking in phrases and sentences now so no more one word answers. Right now we are working on getting him to understand in/on/under and my/yours. Everything he says is with a person's name-so we are working on getting him to learn pronouns.
Bella is crawling, standing, and cruising. She walks with her baby buggy so I don't think it will be long before she's running after her brothers. It seems too soon for her to be doing it but I think that has to do with Landon having such a delay in his gross motors. She has been a little earlier than the other 2 boys though.
Here's some pics from our Christmas...Hope you had a great one :)