Having a kid with health problems inevitably turns you into a nut job. For reals. I mean, I was a little on the nutty side before that adorable little one-eared, bum-kidneyed, mute Nugget sprang forth from my loins, but he’s only made it worse. In the past two years I could personally give Sybil (You know, from the classic 1977 Sally Field movie-for you young whippersnappers.) a run for her money. While I’ve Sybiled out on every aspect of Nugget’s care- let’s do it, let’s not do it, let’s do it, let’s not – my most regular flips have been in the realm of hearing or To Aid or Not to Aid- The Hearing Aid Debate of The Millennium, as we like to call it at Casa de Turk.
The Nugget has one ear that works like a charm, but his little nub of an ear is totally closed off and they won’t do a CAT scan to see if there are any working parts in there until he’s older. So for the past two years we’ve just let him adapt like the one-eared wonder he is. Fortunately for him, his mother is very loud. Sure, you can totally screw with him by sneaking up on his right side since he can’t hear you coming, but over all, he’s done well hearing with just one ear.
But here’s where it gets tricky, research shows that most kids with one working ear have no delays until they get into a classroom setting. There is also research that shows pathways in the brain that go unused, as in the case of unilateral hearing, can become paralyzed and a hearing aid can wake those pathways up again. You can ask six ear doctors and three will say “Aid that one-eared wonder” and three will say, “Nah, let him be.” It’s been a tough call but since my sidekick has remained the Teller to my Penn, still adorably mute with the exception of humming show tunes, we decided his pathways may need a wake-up call.
His ear doctor was one of those that had suggested a hearing aid from the start but we decided to wait and see what happened. He could hear well enough and, as can happen when you are the child of an Irish Catholic mother and a Turkish father, we wanted to toughen him up and make sure he could function without help. Additionally, I also wanted to be certain he was prepared for the zombie apocalypse when hearing aid batteries would be sparse and Nugget would need to be able to sense the undead coming at him on his deaf side. He’ll thank me later.
I realize now this is utterly stupid. (The toughening up part, not the zombie survival part – that’s totally legit. I grew up in a funeral home. I’ve seen things. Trust me, it’s coming.) I am wholly dependent upon my glasses to do the most mundane things. Would I expect myself to toughen up and squint, consistently waving to strangers or making sex kitten-like gestures to any dark-haired individual who looked like the Turk from a distance? Obviously this would become problematic rather quickly. I have a weakness and I have used glasses to aid that most of my life. Why wouldn’t I do the same for my kid?
So a few weeks ago, deep into the year of “Fixing the Nugget,” we decided to start the hearing aid process. Last Friday we went for our fitting and it was far more stressful than I’d ever anticipated. From his throw-down in the exam room as they checked his ear to his major meltdown in the testing booth, (PS – I’m pretty sure that those sound proof testing booths are exactly what the Death Star feels like – cold, dark and void of all noise. If an audiologist ever did some deep breathing over the microphone, I’m pretty sure I’d crap my pants.) to his colossal screamfest as the woman programed his trial aid, I was sure this was going to be a battle.
Because his ear is closed and thus there is no way for sound to enter, Nugget has to have a what’s called a BAHA, bone anchored hearing aid. When he’s older they can implant a snap or magnet into his skull behind his ear and just snap the aid on but as a little guy he wears it on a headband. The BAHA vibrates and sends sound waves in to the nerves. (Full disclosure: previously I had vanity issues with putting a protruding box on my baby’s otherwise adorable, yet very, very large, head. Ridiculous, I know, but I had to work through it. Of course that was obviously before I realized he would look like a three-foot Rambo. Who would pass on that?)
As we neared the fitting portion of our appointment, I was prepared to execute WWF moves to keep that thing on his head. I know my Nugget and if he doesn’t want to comply, nothing will make him. (Again, I blame that on the Turk.) But the minute that band was slipped on his head, everything stopped. He looked at me, a little confused, and then he flashed a big grin. Somebody finally turned on the other side. Of course I melted, right there in that maroon naugahyde chair. It was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.
Since then, he’s only taken that quarter-sized device that costs only slightly less than the national debt, off his head twice and both times I didn’t have it turned on correctly. He hasn’t tried to hide it and most importantly, he hasn’t tried to flush it-which is a favorite pass time of his. I think we may just be on to something. It took Sybil long enough but finally I think we made the right choice. So far, not one person has asked about Little Rambo’s headband – maybe if you see a kid wearing a headband, using sign language with a box above his ear, even a moron can figure out the deal. Or maybe he just looks so badass that nobody wants to mess with my three-foot John Rambo. I am still concerned about keeping him in top form for zombie fighting, but he’s a solid little dude and if his skills at jacking his big brother transfer to zombies, he’s be just fine.