Hearing Loss, Confidence Gain
Ear Tubes, Hearing Loss and Surgery
Matti suffered countless ear infections as a baby. If you’ve had a young child, you know this is common. Babies get stuffed up and ear infections occur. However, due to a heart condition, Matti can’t take many medications that may help clear up congestion. When she was 15 months old, Matti had a routine operation to get ear tubes designed to help drain her ears and, in most circumstances, prevent recurrent ear infections. These seemed to help for a few years. In normal circumstances, the ear tube falls out on their own and a small hole closes. Unfortunately, the hole in Matti’s ear canal only got bigger.
“We found out that when her tubes fell out, the holes did not heal, so with every ear infection thereafter, they just got bigger and bigger causing her to lose her hearing. Surgery was the next step to repair the holes and hopefully restore her hearing,” says Angela, Matti’s mother.
By six years old, the holes expanded to 50% of her eardrums and Matti could barely hear at all. She underwent tempanoplasty, a skin-graft surgery to repair the holes. Things didn’t go as smoothly as the family had hoped. Matti suffered a hematoma and ended up having to have a second surgery the next day. This was traumatic for Matti and her mother, to say the least.
Once everyone recovered, they thought they were in the home stretch. But just two years later, they were still experiencing issues with hearing loss. At home, Matti got frustrated when she missed things and always had the TV on full volume. At school, Matti seemed distant and inattentive. The school nurse contacted the family after repeated failed hearing tests.
The family went back to the doctors and found that her body had rejected the grafts. The holes were back. They discussed another surgery, but the likelihood of her body rejecting the grafts again was high. Subsequently, the conversation turned to hearing aids.
Unsure of the Future
At first, Matti refused the idea of hearing aids. She was 8 years old and worried about managing a hearing device at school. At a visit with an audiologist, the doctor let her try on a hearing aid.
“As soon as he put the ‘tester’ hearing aids in her at the office, she lit up. ‘Is that MY voice?? Is that what I sound like??’ She was now excited to get hearing aids and even more excited that she would get to pick the color and design them herself,” says Angela.
A new reality was taking shape for Matti, but her family was looking at mounting costs. Hearing aids are about $3,000 each, plus batteries and repairs.
“Our hearts sank. Our insurance would not cover them and there was no payment plan available. We have 5 children at home, and things are often quite tight with our budget. With my husband being a veteran, I called veteran programs trying to get help, but there are none offered for dependents,” explains Angela.
Angela was then connected to Any Baby Can’s CHAT program. Quickly, she was able to speak immediately with a caring case manager, who was empathetic to the situation and was dedicated to finding a solution that worked for the family.
“I can't even begin to explain the relief I had when she called to tell me Matti was not only approved for assistance with her hearing aids, but that 100% would be covered. I cried right there on the phone with her,” recalls Angela.
It can feel really powerless, as a parent, to not be able to help your child who is struggling. Any Baby Can gives parents a sense of hope and support in tackling the unknown.
A New World Opens Up
The day Matti received her new hearing aids she was able to hear so many things for the first time. She heard her own voice, birds singing... also the vacuum cleaner and a loud car radio!
“It’s not as much yelling and repeating. Matti plays with everybody, participates in everything, and is quite the social butterfly. She’s really come alive!” says Angela.
Best of all, Matti is an advocate for the hearing impaired and shares her story with anyone and everyone. She has found ways to break the stigma of relying on an assistive device and is a proud voice for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. (Her favorite face mask reads: 50% deaf, 100% awesome!) Matti’s hearing continues to decline, but for now the hearing aids are regularly adjusted to meet her needs. Matti still relies on lip reading and has taken it upon herself to learn American Sign Language, knowing that it may be an inevitable part of her future. She loves to stop and talk or sign with others.
“I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful and grateful we are for Any Baby Can helping my little girl be able to experience a ‘normal’ life by being able to finally hear, something we all take for granted every day. I thank God for such an amazing program and for all of the generous people that keep it going to help all these children in need,” says Angela.
Matti’s love for music and instruments has expanded. She has learned to play bass and will try out baritone in the school band next year! She and her family are hopeful for a bright future, no matter what it may bring. And knowing that there is support available, that they don’t have to go through this alone, makes all the difference in charting unknown territory.
Any Baby Can provides case management, resource navigation and hearing aids for kids with hearing loss.
After connecting with our CHAT program, Eric and his family found a life beyond a hearing loss diagnosis.
A variety of services to address physical, developmental and emotional well-being.