Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba

Jared, my second son, was diagnosed as severely deaf in one ear and profoundly deaf in the other when he was two years old. He grew up with multiple ear infections, hearing aids and speech therapy. He could, and did, what every other kid did, but it was harder for him, like soccer, for instance.

Jared would be on a dead run dribbling the ball down field while simultaneously adjusting his hearing aid so it wouldn’t fall off.  When the whistle blew, he kept playing until other players stopped.

Crowded rooms with multiple conversations made focusing on a single voice or sound impossible. Jared never complained, and despite everything, even learned how to play the guitar. Amazing!

When he was twelve, Jared had a cochlear implant. The surgery wasn’t covered by insurance, so a home equity loan, negotiated cash prices with the hospital, surgeon, anesthesiologist and provider for the device put the price tag just below $50,000.

Part of his skull was drilled out behind his ear and a computer device the size of a quarter was implanted in the crevice behind his ear. A wire implanted in his skull runs into the cochlea where it stimulates the auditory nerve going to the brain.

His only disappointment? He couldn’t head a soccer ball anymore because it might knock the implant loose.  Otherwise, everything was a plus and the possibilities were all butterflies and roses.

img_implantDiagram3
Image from Houston Ear Research Foundation website:  http://www.cochlearhearingcenter.com/?clinic=houston

After a month of healing, Jared received the external, hearing aid device that captured sound and transmitted it to his new, bionic ear.

When the audiologist hooked Jared to turn on his cochlear device for the first time, she made a comment that she hoped the surgery had worked. My heart skipped a beat! Surgery not work? That never even crossed my mind!

Jared just beamed with anticipation.  She fit him with the outer device and turned it on.

“Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba. Jared, can you hear me?” the audiologist asked. Jared was fearfully wide eyed as he shook his head no. My heart sank.

“Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba. Do you hear that?”

Again, no.

A minute later, Jared felt pressure and tightness in his stomach. The audiologist explained that because the implant was in his profoundly deaf ear, his brain had never heard anything from there. In essence, his brain didn’t know what sound was from that ear, or for that matter, what to do with it.

“Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba. Do you hear anything, Jared?”

He is very efficient at reading lips, and again said no, except for the pressure getting more intense in his stomach.

“Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba”.  Nothing. More pressure in his stomach.

The next few minutes the pressure slowly moved up Jared’s chest, to his collar bone, shoulder, then neck. The audiologist explained that what we were seeing was literally a miracle.  His brain neurons were developing neural pathways before our very eyes as his brain learned what was happening for the first time in Jared’s ear. With each new neural pathway, the right side of his brain was forming a hearing highway to and from his left ear.

“Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba.”

The pressure moved to his cheek and finally, left ear.

The audiologist stopped the machine, told Jared to relax, and take a break.  We went out to an atrium where birds flew into a garden in the middle of the medical complex. Jared looked around, and then looked at me funny, as if something was opening up to him for the first time.

A bird was singing in one of the trees. Jared looked at me and asked what he was hearing.  He talked softly, as if his own voice was a new, loud sound he had never really heard before.

I told Jared it was a bird singing. His eyes looked like a thousand children on Christmas Day as he looked back and forth to see what he had just heard. Jared looked at me and I clapped my hands twice. Startled, he said, “I heard that! It’s loud!” He clapped his own hands as a sense of awe took over his expression.

A few minutes later we were back in the audiologist’s office.

“Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba. Jared, can you hear me?”

Jared shook his head enthusiastically. Yes!

Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba

He was still having ear pressure, but she explained it would soon go away. Then it was just sounds.  New, precious, never before heard, sounds. Voices sounded different to Jared than with a hearing aid, including his own, but within a week his mind had learned to interpret the new-found voices and sounds.

On the way home from Houston, Jared asked a question that immediately brought tears to my eyes.  “What do people talk about on the phone?”

He was 12 years old and never talked on the phone. He’d never been able to. Now, with a special adapter, he could log into a phone and communicate with someone he couldn’t see.

The next night, we were in the garage and I caught a cricket.  I shook cupped hands so it would chirp. It was faint, but Jared heard it and wanted to know what it was. His mouth dropped open when I opened my hands, and as if on cue, the cricket chirped again he could hear one for the very first time.

There were all kinds of new sounds: locking door knobs, squeaky hinges, radio stations, tea kettle, barking dog, playing drums on trash can lids, chickens in the coop, the central air unit turning off and on, the hum of a low flying twin-engine plane, popping of an outdoor fire…all new sounds. All new experiences. All new associations. ALL amazing!

The third night, Jared came and stood by a little red faced. I asked what was wrong and he got straight to the point.

“Have I always made that much noise when I go to the bathroom?”

The next thing he heard was five minutes of laughter, including his own.

Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba story

Cochlear implants aren’t perfect. Jared still struggles with hearing, and sometimes people aren’t very nice to people who struggle with hearing.

Large groups are still hard too, which is ironic since Jared is in such a large family. Even so, from 2 to 12 years old to now being a grown adult with over 16 years cochlear implant hearing experience, Jared has always been kind, patient and gracious about his hearing loss.

Some people ask him where he’s from because of his “accent”.  He just smiles, says he’s from Poland and they go away none the wiser.

Jared still goes regularly to have his cochlear implant adjusted so his hearing stays as sharp as possible. In fact, some time before the end of this year, he’ll have another implant surgery on his right hear.

Never once in his lifetime have I heard Jared as much as mumble about the hardship it causes him.  On the contrary, he says he is thankful he is deaf. He says it makes him appreciate even more what he has and hears.

Jared said he used to feel so isolated, so different, so…deaf.  It wasn’t only that he couldn’t hear, in a way, he couldn’t really be heard either.  He says in those hard times, he’s learned to listen for God’s voice, and hearing God’s voice makes all the difference!

Jared’s kind and gentle spirit, intuitive understanding, ability to read others and sense those around him is unexplainable, really. And in life, generally Jared hears and understands more in a single day than many hear in months, or even years. Jared is truly one of my heroes!!

Day At The Lake
Jared and I at a lake birthday party

By the way, God, help me to hear like Jared! May I too be swift to hear, clearly understand Your words and always recognize Your voice.

Then Jesus said, (Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba) “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:9

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40 thoughts on “Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba,Ba”

  1. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing Jared story. I am losing my hearing it might be completely but I am very Blessed because I do hear God’s voice a little and I will more as I am getting older and wiser. I appreciate all the sounds I still hear a lot and when I take my hearing aids off is like peace comes from Heaven. I think God IS preparing me to become I might become deaf. I love Jared’s strength in not hearing for such a long time. At least I did. Tell your son that his story helped me appreciate what I have now more. Thank you again. Please give him a hug from a 63 years old woman.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Patrizia, Thank you so much!!

      I will most definitely make sure Jared reads this!! I hope and pray that you will not lose your hearing completely! You are so right about peace coming from heaven, and blessed are those who do not need a hearing aid to hear the voice of God!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A person’s characteristics can portray many different aspects about them. Some people have an addictive and easy going sense of humor that draws others to them because they seem to have a natural flair for finding humor in the day to day common activities that we all encounter. And then if you’re extremely lucky, that’s combined with what I call, “down to earth people” that possess that rare characteristic of being able to communicate their oneness with you, without actually having to say it, it’s kind of woven into the words they speak or write. People like that are rare and I’m not one of them but I infrequently see it in others. I’d wager that it’s a pretty safe bet that your whole family is blessed by many characteristics that foster giving, sharing, laughing, forgiveness and love. This was a truly beautiful Father and son story Jeff and I know without you saying it, that it extends beyond the two of you. And being the man that you are, you even took the time to share it with us. God’s Word tells us to share our shortfalls with one another so that we can all understand that no one is perfect and we all stumble at times. But in like manner, I think we should share accomplishments also, like you did about Jared, because when we do, we all share in the goodness of our Heavenly Father, appreciating things that we might not have seen, had they not been shared. Thank you for sharing your heart. Grace and blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Bruce! Thank you!! That is very humbling! I wish I could say I was like that, but truth be told, if I confessed my shortcomings, faults, mistakes and sins, there would be no end in sight! Janet and I are very blessed in so many ways with eleven children, six son and daughter-in-laws, and nine grandchildren….but we expect the number to grow! They are indeed remarkable in so many ways, but there’s not a perfect one in the bunch, with me being the leader of imperfection. One of the beautiful things about a large family though is someone is always on their A-game, while someone is always trying to make it through a bad time. It is a hodgepodge of works in progress! Thank you, Bruce for the encouraging, kind words my friend! Peace to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jared sounds like an exceptionally wise and godly guy! And I think his parents are pretty great… finding and negotiating a way to pay for Jared’s implant. You and your wife truly love inselfishly! Poland? Why Poland? Are you part Polish? If so, then, we really might be related. 😃 Amazing and inspirational post, Jeff! And yes, my eyes were definitely misty as I read this! 🙂

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  4. I didn’t realize it wouldn’t be covered by insurance! That’s nuts!!!
    And how cool that you came here to get it done. We have a great medical center and this just proves it.
    I’m so happy he could hear, for a minute I was afraid it wouldn’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Praise the Lord that He hears with His heart and His whole being, holds back some things and blesses through what we don’t have. What a blessing to read Jared’s story. Blessings as you continue trusting Him for all your family’s needs. He is a most gracious Father.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. BTW I tagged you in the Lyrical Challenge. I put the post up today (Run for the Roses). No need to accept the challenge unless you think it might be fun. I’ve had a grand tiem with the two I’ve done.

        Liked by 1 person

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