by Rachel Zook
One of the hardest parts of having a child who is severely to profoundly deaf is that your child cannot wear her devices all the time. My ten-year-old wears one hearing aid and one cochlear implant to allow her to hear and speak. However, there are many situations when she cannot wear them, such as while swimming, on rainy days, during bath time, or in bounce houses. So, during those times she basically is deaf, and without her devices she can hear only very extreme loud noises or read lips.
This is something that has bothered me since getting her diagnosis at age five. It has been hard to watch her be in a pool when she just can’t hear her friends try to tell her something. She would hopefully catch on at some point to what they were saying, or she would just kind of end up on her own. My mommy heart would just sink to the bottom of the pool. She did not seem to be bothered too much, but I knew as she got older it would bother her more and more.
In addition, when you have children who are deaf near water you have to be on high alert for their safety. Even at a life-guarded pool, my child cannot hear a whistle blown or instructions yelled to the pool. Therefore, someone always has to be near her in a pool to keep her safe. There was no sitting by the pool and relaxing in a chair for this mom or dad. One of us normally stayed within arms reach of her just to be safe.
Then, last year Aqua Cases came out for the brand of Cochlear Implant my daughter wears on her left side. I was beyond thrilled! She would be able to wear her device in a safe waterproof box on her swimsuit. YIPPEE! However, convincing insurance to cover it took a few weeks, or to be honest, months. Just about the time we decided to raise the money for the device, we got great news. Our audiologist had gotten it approved and it was being shipped to us. The day it came, I almost cried. My daughter was thrilled and could not wait to try it. She wanted to hear in water.
Soon, we slipped her cochlear implant into the device and I said go play in the creek near our house. (She does not wear her hearing aid in water, as it is not waterproof.) She kept staring at me, like are you for real? I said “YES” go! She smiled as she headed to play in the water and mud with her brother. I watched them play and laugh for over an hour. It was amazing. She was so happy.
The first time she wore it at the indoor pool we swim at, she was amazed at the sounds and noises. She kept looking around trying to figure out all the new sounds. Tears silently fell the first time her friend came up to talk to her and she answered. It was amazing.
Such a small little box, but such an amazing freedom to my little girl. She does not get to play like other kids who just worry about a towel, but she gets to play and hear now at the same time. Remembering her aqua case and her cords is just a way to allow that, and we gladly pack them every trip to the water. We are already looking forward to a summer of wearing her aqua case and playing in the pool.