A change has come

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I haven’t blogged about this yet, but I love my new job (part time) as department secretary at Huntsville Hospital Pediatric Therapy – I feel like I’m making a difference for the children we see, and I feel like I’m giving back a little of what so many have helped us with during Riley’s journey to hearing.

The clinic sees patients for speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and now audiology. It’s exciting that families no longer have to drive to Birmingham or Nashville to have their child’s hearing tested or their cochlear implants mapped or their hearing aids adjusted. All that is available in Huntsville now.

It took a lot of hard work from the therapists, the audiologist, the volunteers, the hospital’s foundation, and many donors to help get the audiology program started. And it’s so worth it.

I’m learning so much about how these services really benefit these kids. I know first-hand how great auditory-verbal therapy is. Now I’m learning the benefits of OT. And about how you do PT with a 3-month-old. These therapy disciplines are fascinating.

Another cool thing? I wear scrubs to work. No futzing with dress pants and shoes. Or trying to find a shirt that fits. Or that isn’t too wrinkled. Just toss on the scrubs and go. I’m working on my color combos: Today it was turquoise and red; other days it’s been hot pink and navy.

I’m still writing, too. In fact, I’m working on a story right now for a national publication and another for a regional parenting magazine. And, of course, I’m still writing for VisitSouth.com’s Huntsville site. Stop by and leave me a comment there, too. The more links and visits and shares and tweets and posts I get the better.

In case you’re wondering, I took a buyout from the newspaper in January and was set to be a full-time writer when this opportunity at the hospital came along. Sometimes things have a way of working out, when the time is right. The good Lord knows what He is doing.

I’m loving my new schedule, and I’ve almost grown accustomed to getting up early. I’m still working on getting to bed early, as you can see. It’s nearly 11 p.m. and I’m banging away on this keyboard!

So that’s my update for now. Things are going well, and we’re enjoying life!

How do you map an ear?

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Audiologist Emily Rector checks the connection between Riley's CI processor and the computer.

Yesterday I talked about taking Riley to her mapping appointment at the HEAR Center. You’re probably wondering what that means. Mapping means programming. It’s a little like upgrading the software on your computer. Sometimes your computer slows down or needs a boost to do some new processes.

Riley wears her CIs everywhere but in the water and to sleep

Same thing with the CI processors, which are the pink and blue devices you see Riley wearing. They contain tiny computers that need occasional updates.

The cochlear implant processors have to be readjusted at various intervals depending on how long a child has worn them. For example, when Riley first got her CIs, she had to get them mapped every month for the first couple of months. Then every three months for a couple of years. After nearly seven years, unless she’s having trouble with the CI, Riley’s map is updated every six months.

The audiologist hooks the processors to her computer and updates the software on them. This mapping sets the devices’ electrode stimulation levels in Riley’s cochlea so she can detect soft and loud sounds comfortably.

Over time, Riley will adapt to the settings. What was once too loud might become too soft as her brain’s auditory center gets used to the sounds. Then we’ll go back for another mapping session.

Today I am 38

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My birthday is today. I didn’t do much, but that’s OK. I took Riley to her MAPping session today at Children’s HEAR Center in Birmingham – all went well there. After we got back to town, we met Ryan at Phil Sandoval’s for an awesome Mexican dinner.

When we got home I was instructed to go to my office and shut the down. I sprawled in the floor and flipped through More magazine and waited. Riley came and got me and I noticed all the lights were out. She made me close my eyes and she led me into the kitchen, where a chocolate cake with chocolate icing was lighted by a 3 and an 8 and two gifts waited. It was very sweet, and the cake was good, too.

I’ve spent the rest of the evening in my pajamas, watching Riley do one-armed cartwheels, watching the Olympics, playing with WordPress plugins, and listening to music and watching videos like this one and this one and this one and this one and this one. And drinking Coke and eating Doritos and Chips Ahoy chocolate chunk cookies.

It’s been a good day. I’m not going to look back at my last birthday and all the things I wanted to do but didn’t. You can read the dirty details in the related posts below. No point in looking back and getting down on myself. I’ll just keep working to get where I want to be. Eventually I’ll get there.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I love my friends!

And what better way to close out my birthday than with a little Jon Bon Jovi and a 16-year-old’s memories? Sweet dreams, y’all …