My spoiled little child Karim was born on December 10, 2012. He is my first child, and my pregnancy with him and his birth were among the most wonderful moments of my life. We didn’t suspect that he had a hearing problem until he was ten months old. At first, we were worried that Karim did not pay attention to us when we called his name. But the pediatrician informed us that this is normal. And when we decided to see a specialist doctor about it, he told us the same thing.
At first, we refused to believe the test results, so we took Karim to different centers and tested him again and again.
Call it parental instinct, but we were still concerned about Karim. We continued to take him to see different doctors. When Karim’s hearing tests showed that he had a severe hearing loss, we were shocked. This was a very difficult time for us as parents. At first, we refused to believe the test results, so we took Karim to different centers and tested him again and again. It wasn’t until all the tests told us the same devastating results that we accepted that reality. We needed to believe in the test results, and act accordingly to help our son.
Karim was fitted with hearing aids, and we attended speech therapy classes twice a week. When he was introduced to different sounds, his reactions were wonderful. When we switched him to a pair of even more advanced hearing aids, Karim started to hear more sounds. He said his first words: “Daddy” and “Mommy.” He was able to talk about his body parts, such as his eyes, nose, etc.
Unfortunately, after this initial progress, we noticed that Karim’s hearing wasn’t improving anymore. He couldn’t hear and recognize all of the letters of the alphabet. It was time for us to seriously talk about cochlear implant surgery. It’s difficult for me to express our feelings about this prospect at the time. We were afraid to put our precious child through surgery. But at the same time, we were sure that he needed it to hear better.
He used to say: “Have a speaker so I can hear you well.”
On Sep 23, 2014, Karim had cochlear implant surgery. He was young, but he recognized that something was different, and he started to look around after he woke up from surgery. Almost three months later, Karim got his external processor. When the implant was activated and he started hearing everything around him, Karim was shocked, and he started crying. He cried and ran away from us every time we turned the processor on for him.
Before long, Karim understood that he needed to keep the processor on to hear. He started to hear the calls to prayer from the mosque next to our house, the low frequency sounds, and eventually, he started to understand full sentences. He attended intensive speech classes, and he became more active and happier. He used to come back from the hearing center and tell me about what he did and learned during class. His speech and language skills have improved significantly over time. We were the happiest parents, so proud of Karim’s progress.
When the time came for Karim to go to school, he faced a lot of curious children who wanted to know about this thing on his head. He was brave enough to answer them and not be shy or ashamed. He used to say: “Have a speaker so I can hear you well.”
Today, Karim is an active child. He likes to be with people and loves to socialize. He doesn’t like it when anyone speaks loudly with him. He used to take swim classes, continuing to hear in class with his sound processor in the waterproof AquaCase. He now takes boxing classes and is a sports lover. He helps around the house and is a responsible big brother to his little sister. He stands up for himself when confronted by bullies. A lot of people ask him about his CI. He used to say, “This is a gift from God, so I can hear like others.” He is a miracle!
Going through this experience was challenging for us. But It was also one of the most valuable experiences in our lives. We had to strengthen Karim’s personality and give him all the support he needed to become a confident individual. To do that, I knew that I needed to be a strong mother. So I learned everything I could about hearing, sounds, and speech so that I can be there for him in each and every step of his journey. I always tell him how strong he is, and how he is able to do everything, like any other person.
As a mother who has been through such an experience with her child, I really advise all other parents to get the cochlear implant if it is recommended by their doctors. Don’t be afraid and don’t be ashamed. Your child is your first responsibility and helping them is your concern. A child with significant hearing loss needs extra care, speech therapy classes, and love. But this was is the most important thing to do—you need to make sure that your child is fully aware he is like any other child and no less capable. It will take time to overcome hearing loss, but this tough period will eventually become a memory. Your child will overcome obstacles, and will grow up in front of you with their achievements and successes. They will do it, and you will be proud.
Last but not least I would like to thank God for the gifts given to us, and every single person who has supported and stood next to me and my family. Thanks also to Advanced Bionics for making their patients the top of their priority.