Personal Impact of Math Miracles

My daughter, Julianna, was born, June 30, 2001. They tested her hearing at the hospital as a newborn, and she was fine. However, over the course of her early development, she began to lose her hearing. She was able to use visual cues to keep us unaware of her degraded hearing. (She wasn’t trying to fool us; she just didn’t know that she was supposed to hear, so things were “normal” to her.) However, she was not developing age appropriate language skills, so we took her to an audiologist a few months before she turned two. She had moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears. Although we gave her hearing aids at that time and she began to get special services, her language was slow to develop and she continued to lose her hearing. Just as she was turning three, she went profoundly deaf in her right ear and was determined to be a candidate for an implant. The five hour surgery was performed in August 2004.

Figure 9 Julianna, shortly after implant surgery.


Figure 10 Julianna, at home, night of the surgery.

Protocol requires that you allow about one full month after the surgery before sending any signals to the implant. That first time is called activation. The experience is different for each patient, with a very real possibility that the new sensations might be somewhat painful. (Imagine being in the dark for three years and then suddenly stepping into daylight for the first time. For several months, the process of first turning on the signal can be somewhat scary for a child.)

To her mother and me, the implant is truly a miracle. We know that she is a very smart child, and would have made her way regardless of this technology, but it brings her joys that she would never have known without it. We still cry when we think of her as a baby, us singing lullabies to try to comfort her when she had fallen, and her unable to hear those songs. Now she hears. And talks. She reads and sings and dances and does all the things little girls should do. When we first moved to our present home, we had the town put up a “deaf child” warning sign. Recently, Julianna noticed and read the sign. She was very excited that there might be a deaf child in her neighborhood. When we explained that the sign was for her, she just laughed. “I’m not deaf,” she said.

Figure 11 Julianna with her audiologist, on activation day. Click on the picture to see a short video interview with Julianna

From the mouths of babes. Last year, the mother of one of Julianna’s kindergarten classmates told us that her son had come home one day early in the school year. “Mom,” he said, “There is a new girl in school. She is so beautiful. And she has a magic ear.”

Julianna’s CI enables her to go to school in a mainstream classroom. She is now in the first grade and is at or above grade level with normally hearing children in almost all areas, lagging only in certain spoken linguistic areas, and then only by a few months. But then again, she is still catching up – she has only been hearing for half her life.

So now you have an answer to WHY DO MATH?