Ariana's Story

Ariana is 11 years old and getting ready to go to middle school next fall. She will be in the 6th grade, and she wears bilateral cochlear implants. Ariana has one older brother and one younger brother. She is a very smart and happy child and enjoys swimming, baton, and art. Ariana had a neat opportunity to meet Marlee Matlin last year at one of the local elementary schools. It seems like just yesterday, though, that our healthy baby girl was just getting over her first cold when she was suddenly stricken with bacterial meningitis at 4 1/2 months old. Ariana is very lucky. She beat a lot of odds. She was in ICU for 12 days.

When she was 15 months old, I went into her room and she did not hear me call her name. My heart sank. I knew at that moment there was a hearing loss. We have no idea if it is from the meningitis itself or a result of the antibiotics that helped save her life. We later found out that she was deaf in her right ear and had a mild to severely sloping loss in her left ear. We chose not to give her a cochlear implant early on because she received great benefit from her hearing aids and was making great progress in her speech and language. Cochlear implants were not as popular in 1998 as they currently are. We were a little afraid back then.

Thanks to wonderful speech therapists, doctors, and an oral deaf preschool, she continued to make lots of progress. It wasn't until she was almost 8 years old and going into the 2nd grade that she hit that wall. She was only getting 35% of aided hearing and she came to us asking to please let her get a cochlear implant. A lot of people in the past thought she would not be a candidate due to ossification around her cochleas from the meningitis. She did have lots of ossification, but she was so blessed to have two successful surgeries. She had surgery on her better ear first, in August of 2005, and she received her second cochlear implant in November 2005 due to that ear was ossifying rapidly.

I cannot put into mere words how it has changed her life. If I could do it all over again, I would have gotten her this wonderful gift when she was first diagnosed with a hearing loss all those years ago. It has been a long journey, but such a rewarding one! My favorite quotes are "love is pulling together against all odds" and "never never never give up".

Written by Kia, mom to Ariana.
Keep up with Ariana at her blog:

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