Mike and Christina T. look back on their son’s journey to getting cochlear implants after some health scares early on in life. Now a thriving young adult, Eagle Scout, fantastic student and black belt in karate, Ricky is ready to take on the world and his future life with cochlear implants:

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“It’s 10:00 p.m. and we are having a great time. Family is over and we are chatting and laughing. The music is loud, and I walk over to the congas and play a lick or two. Ricky is sleeping soundly through it all in the adjacent room with the door wide open. The next morning, I am vacuuming his room while Ricky still sleeps soundly. If not for my banging the vacuum accidently into the side of his toddler bed, he might have slept another hour! He wakes, looks up and smiles. I smile back. ‘Let’s put on your super ears!’ That is what we call his cochlear implants.

That was a day in the life of our son, Ricky, who is deaf and hears with his cochlear implants. Ricky is now 18 and is getting ready to go away to college. Boy, he will have a nice advantage when he wants to sleep in the noisy dormitories.

Ricky’s health scares after birth

Ricky and his life with cochlear implants, and his dogRicky was born in February of 2002. He arrived after 28 hours of labor and then a C-Section. He came out with beautiful blue eyes and more hair already than his dad. We were so excited at the arrival of our first born. What a gift and a blessing! But it was not smooth sailing. After a few minutes of quality time with Mom, they took him for his hearing screening. The results did not come back right away, but he ultimately passed the screening.

It was not until later that we discovered he had a progressive hearing loss and that, at the time of the screening, his loss was on the borderline of passing. Over the next few days after his birth at the hospital, we were also informed that he had jaundice and had significant digestive system problems and had to return to the hospital. As first-time parents, we were overwhelmed with the unexpected medical concerns.

The next several months were spent in and out of doctors’ offices and hospitals to address his medical issues. His hearing was not on our radar. In the midst of his visits, we started to notice him not responding to sounds the way we saw in other babies like his cousins. At around 11 months, our new pediatrician instructed us to get his hearing re-tested.

Discovery of Ricky’s progressive hearing loss

Ricky and his life with cochlear implantsWe had him tested and discovered that his hearing loss was progressive. As a result, we tried hearing aids. Although the constant ringing (or sonar) of the hearing aid made it easy for us to keep track of where our crawling son was at all times, we struggled with hearing aids. We tried using them for several months, but his progressive loss made it difficult to keep up with the amplification needed to benefit him.

Our auditory verbal therapist suggested we look into cochlear implants for Ricky. We did not know anything about them and had difficulty, at times, accepting the reality that our son was deaf. After consulting with our wonderful doctor, we agreed to have our son unilaterally implanted. It was the best decision. Ricky thrived with his new ‘super ear.’ It took several months of therapy, but Ricky progressed immensely. A year and half later at the age of 4, at the suggestion of his awesome teachers, AV therapist and audiologist, we had his other side (left) implanted.

Ricky was bilateral at the age of 4. We did several months of hearing and language therapy and, thanks to a great program, Ricky was on the path to a mainstream education. Thanks to this program and to the accommodations provided through his IEPs, such as an FM system, extra time on tests, and preferential seating, Ricky has thrived in school.

Ricky’s success in life with cochlear implants

Ricky, in his uniform, on his life with cochlear implantsHe has been an ‘A’ student and has earned honor roll on numerous occasions. He has been a volunteer in children’s ministry at church for several years. He has also earned a black belt in karate and has recently achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scouting. One of the main requirements of earning the Eagle Scout rank is coordinating and leading an ‘Eagle project’ that benefits the community. His project consisted of adding obstacles to the local dog park. Some of those obstacles included a step-up platform for the smaller dogs as well as a ramp that led to the top of a large tree stump. The tree had fallen earlier in the year due to a storm.

In addition to the challenges a project of this nature entails, he had the challenge of hearing in a noisy outdoor environment. When discussing the project with Ricky afterward, he said that it took him some extra effort to understand and hear in that environment. Ricky’s project saved the community center over $600 that would have been spent pulling and grinding the stump. It was a huge success. He is a big New York Jets fan and received several congratulatory notes for earning Eagle rank including one from Jets Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin.

He is currently a Cochlear™ Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor recipient. We chose Cochlear because of the reputation for excellent customer service and they have not let us down. Ricky is a quiet, but sweet young man with a great sense of humor. He loves indoor skydiving, movies and music and uses his True Wireless™ Phone Clip all the time to listen to music. He is currently enrolled in collegiate high school, which means he is a high school student taking all his classes at the local community college.  He plans to pursue a career in engineering and will attend college at a Florida state school next year. He is an incredible young man who, thanks to his cochlear implants, is on his way to many more magnificent achievements.”

Are you interested in what life with cochlear implants could look like for your child? Read more information here today.

Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager at Cochlear Americas. She is responsible for consumer marketing social media and blog content. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.