Not sure if I ever mentioned on this blog that my youngest son is deaf with a cochlear implant?  He decided to get one his junior year of high school, starting out his first week of his senior year recovering from it.  He always qualified, it was a decision I didn’t want to make for him and waited until it was something he wanted.  He actually did all the research on it himself, when he went in he fully intended to have both sides done.  After the one, that was good enough for all of us.

It helped him a lot the first year, although it’s a different sound than actual hearing.  It’s an electronic sound he had to learn how to decipher the sounds.  He wore it for years when he first went off to Northridge for their deaf program in college.  He had somewhat been in the deaf community his first few years of school, he was in a total communication classroom from K-3 grade and mainstreamed in 4th grade.  The program was in Mt. Diablo School District (highly recommend BTW).   We brought him back to Walnut Creek for middle school and high school, much to the financial dismay of the school districts.  That’s for another blog, I will say this, by middle school most parents are forced to go private or continue the uphill battle with the school districts.  We were lucky, he had been in the system since he was 18 months old.  That, and he’s really smart and a good student.

He stuck out Cal State Northridge for a year and a half, it’s my alma mater.  He lived in the deaf dorms which were sign language only, he then started getting some slack from his peers about his implant.  There was a time we were told we were the worst parents ever for letting him get the implant, that the whole family didn’t learn how to sign for him, he was ready to write us all off – almost cultish.  I took him back to his grade school one day on a break and they confirmed that HE was the one who didn’t want to sign.  I should mention with hearing aides he can speak, his hearing loss is at 90 decibels so with the aides plus lip reading he was able to communicate around 6 years old.  I did take some sign language classes for a few years.

I loved Northridge for him, it was convenient for us along with being close to my mom in case of emergency.  He moved into an apartment with some roommates he didn’t like and called it quits.  We brought him home to go to the local junior college for a semester, he realized everyone was gone off to college.  Someone he met at the local JC mentioned New Mexico State’s PGM (Pro golf management) program.  He looked into it, then transferred the next semester.

That seemed ideal, he’s been a golfer since he was 5 or 6 years old.  I worked at a golf course their whole childhood, they grew up with that course as their playground.  He played on the golf teams since middle school, they both had jobs at golf courses when they were in high school.

He’s not in school at this time, he wanted to play competitively with a break from school. This is a tough one for me, how do you support your kid’s dreams yet make sure you’re getting them started into a life where they can one day be self supportive?  Especially for when you’re not on this earth anymore?  Having a kid with a disability adds a new twist to it too, we had a guy working for the golf course from a PGM program who basically had the same job as me – my son can’t answer a phone.

Back to the implant though, he’s home to get it adjusted to use it again.  That’s a start, a few months ago he wanted another surgery to get it removed and I just cried the whole time he was saying that.  That surgery was hectic, the LAST thing I wanted him to do was to got through that again!!  I begged him to just keep it so that some day he would want to wear it again (did I say he’s stubborn?).  He came around, it was his choice to get it adjusted.

One of the side affects of the surgery is tinnitus, when he’s wearing the implant the tinnitus seems to subdue.  Another thing that helps him is tincture drops from medicinal MJ.  I discovered the tincture when I’d go with my mom’s best friend to pick it up when she was dying of cancer.  She would put it in her tea, it would help her appetite and help her sleep.  Before we got her a card she had eaten cookies and had no feeling in her legs!!  The drops are a lot milder than the edibles (I guess, I haven’t had either).

They seem to help his tinnitus without the stoney affect.  Being the good mom, after I picked him up from the airport we stopped by Berkeley to get him some drops.  One thing I’m not is an enabler, I wouldn’t be stopping by a liquor store for him if he needed a drink.  It’s a tough call, what’s the difference between something mild or say a Tylenol PM??  Now that I’ve had, it gives me vivid dreams as well as leaving me medicine like tired the next day.

Not that I’m recommending any of this, parenting is always a balance of stumbling through what the best thing could possibly be for your child hoping something will give them a lifetime of health & happiness – oh, and a well paying job!

The goal is to get him to qualify for the world deaf championships at this point.  He’s picking a new major to get back to school after he gives this a go.  Go Aggies!!

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