I want people to understand me and how my cochlear implant works.
Discovering McKenzi’s Hearing Loss
McKenzi was born at 39 weeks and was a small, but very healthy baby. During her hearing screening, the test results revealed that her left ear failed, but her parents were told that it was probably wrong and that there was nothing to worry about. At her two day check-up with her pediatrician, McKenzi’s mother, Meagan, had her hearing tested again and the results showed that her hearing was within normal range. As her parents stated, “We didn’t think twice about it until we noticed around the age of 2 that her balance was off. We immediately contacted her pediatrician who referred us to an audiologist and opthamologist to make sure she was ok.”
Meagan recalls that initial audiologist appointment, “I remember telling my mom that I knew nothing was wrong with McKenzi’s hearing because she was able to repeat everything back to me and her speech was good. I had no clue. During that appointment the audiologist tested her hearing and an ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) was performed. This test revealed that at the age of 2 years old, McKenzi was deaf in her left ear.”
For the next few years McKenzi wore a Baha softband, and had routine hearing tests performed, which showed a progressive hearing loss in her right ear as well. She then used hearing aids that worked well for her until one day when she was six years old.
Meagan vividly remembers the day her daughter McKenzi woke up deaf, “McKenzi was sitting down in her favorite pink chair to watch TV. I held her hearing aids up to my ear to listen for the chimes to make sure they were working. After hearing it, I handed them to her. She took them off and said ‘Ugh!! They’re not working!’ I told her wait just a second, the batteries must be dying. I changed the batteries and the same thing happened. I called the ENT right away and explained the problem. We figured she had fluid in her ears again, but after careful examination and several tests, the audiologist came to the final conclusion that she was deaf.”
The Impact of Cochlear Implants
At first, McKenzi’s parents didn’t want her to have the Cochlear Implant surgery because it seemed very scary to put their 6 year old through surgery. The family was referred to a pediatric ENT, who helped them discuss all of their options and decide whether or not cochlear implant surgery was the best decision. After talking with the ENT it was pretty clear to us that she needed this surgery. Not only could she carry on conversations again but she could hear music. McKenzi enjoys dancing and listening to music. Until she had her cochlear implant surgery she had to put her hand on speakers in order to feel the vibrations and this is how she “listened” to her favorite songs. She was content doing this, but occasionally mentioned to her parents how she wished she could hear the music. For example, one time when we were driving down the road, we had her favorite song turned up loud and she was touching the door for the vibrations, she looked at her father and said “Daddy, I just want to hear it.” It broke her parent’s hearts and they knew they had to stay strong and positive for her, and they told her it wouldn’t be long and she would hear again.
At the age of 6, McKenzi underwent her cochlear implant surgery and at first she didn’t like it until she realized she was able to hear her baby sister cry and she could hear music on the radio in the car. She had to learn all over again what she was hearing. There were 5 different mapping appointments that she and her parents had to attend in order to fine tune the volume and hear everything that would occur around McKenzi. As of today, she is doing great and her parents feel that it was the best decision for McKenzi.
McKenzi has also used an FM system at school from the start of school. She really likes being able to hear directions or the teacher reading without having to be right next to her. This technology has also been extremely helpful if McKenzi has questions during class because the teacher doesn’t have to walk to her and speak right next to her.
“If it wasn’t for this wonderful technology she wouldn’t be able to communicate with her peers without an interpreter.”
Why McKenzi is a HearStrong Champion
McKenzi is a HearStrong Champion because she is a motivated and enthusiastic young girl who wants to help teach others about hearing loss. She also extremely driven to teach others about her cochlear implant and exactly how it works.