Cochlear Implants: Chloe's Story
Chloe Jean Brauer was born on August 24, 2011.
She was born with bilateral profound hearing loss.
Those first few months are really a blur to me because your dream that you had of your child was broken.
She's never going to hear my voice. She's never going to hear her sister sing the lullabies to her.
I would say we felt a little helpless and a little unprepared. When any child is born you try to prepare yourself as far as, what are the possible things that could go wrong.
Hearing loss for us anyway, never really even crossed our mind and I think it doesn't for a lot of people.
You're crushed for a while and then you regroup. You rely on your family, your faith, and you work through the process. What can I do to improve this?
Chloe was referred to Boys Town National Research Hospital. The family learned about Cochlear implants.
They saw a whole team of us. We sat down and we talked about her. She is, in many respects, an ideal candidate, identified early, getting implanted early and a great family. That's really important.
There was a concern that the hearing nerve wasn't even there. When we got the news that the hearing nerve was present and everything looked good. It was a very big day.
Yeah, we felt a lot better after that.
We can do this. There is hope.
We want the best for her and if this is what it takes for her to thrive then that's what should be done.
Chloe was scheduled to receive Bilateral Cochlear Implants. Her first implant was performed on July 24.
When she first heard her first sounds and turned to the sound of a bell, we kind of figured we were going to be a wreck. I don't know, we were so happy we didn't even cry if that makes sense.
It happened so quick. It wasn't until later that evening when we got to the hotel room that, I just had tears.
"Chloe, Chloe, Chloe, over here!"
This is why it's worth it and this is why we're doing this.
She's now starting to babble and that's important because she is hearing her own voice.
She's doing more than what we expected at this time with her first C.I. I can't imagine what the second C.I. is going to bring.
Chloe's surgery for her second implant was performed on August 21.
"Here we go Chloe!"
As surgeons, our job is to get the implant in without complications and to make sure we get a full electrode insertion.
"Full insertion, there were no complications and really nice bumps on everything. So, she should do great."
Chloe's second implant was the 500th Cochlear Implant performed at Boys Town National Research Hospital.
It does sort of, I feel, set us aside as a center of excellence. We have a lot of expertise on the team. We've had a lot of success stories that we can look back on and reflect on. What are the good things that we've done? How many people have we helped?
It's particularly rewarding for me that they are the 500th because they're very special people.
In essence we determine a prescription for how the device needs to be set, similar to what someone would do for eye glasses or a hearing aid, because everyone is different.
So with very young children like Chloe, we can do some measurements that look at, well, how does her nerve respond when we send an electrical signal through the Cochlear Implant.
We can use that pattern of responses that we get from her to give us some initial settings for the device.
As the brain becomes accustomed to it, that map changes. The audiologists work pretty frequently after the initial hook up and then there is a lot of work the families have to do with the patient.
We have to train her to listen to those sounds. Her brain has to think and translate those sounds into speech.
"Listen, listen. Ahhhhhhhhhh."
They get cues from the team. They get cues from speech pathology on what to work at.
I think without the team concept this thing is a lot harder. They all work together, they collaborate, they have team meetings. You are their focus.
The whole team will be involved with her for several years to come. Following her and making sure she's progressing. I anticipate she's going to do just great.
It's not easy. It's a tough road. The easy job was getting to that first day of surgery. Now it's working with her and making sure our home is a sound environment for her.
What I would say to Dr. Lusk, his nurse, Kristie, the C.I. team we're working with, Jacquelyn, the Speech Therapist Julianne, is I owe you everything.
My dream has come true and that's because of them.
The Cochlear Implant Center at Boys Town National Research Hospital has served children and adults with severe or profound hearing loss for more than a decade with comprehensive clinical services. Join us in celebrating the 500th cochlear implant and watch how it has changed Chloe's life.