Usually I’m pretty private about my family life.  But sometimes it is important to share experiences that could have a positive impact on others who are living with similar issues.  Thursday, July 17 is a very big day for our daughter who will undergo surgery to receive her first cochlear implant.

serena hopeSerena was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss….meaning she could hardly hear with her left ear, and her right ear had only mild/moderate loss.  Basically, her ears are perfect organs except her microscopic ‘hair’ nerve cells in both ears are damaged.  She has worn hearing aids since age 2.

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Her left ear declined in elementary school, so she only wore a hearing aid in her right ear.  Otherwise,  her life was pretty typical….good marks,  sports teams and an overly active social life.

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We were just coasting along, even forgetting about her hearing loss and thinking all would continue this way indefinitely.

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Last summer, on July 20, everything changed.  Serena’s hearing in her right ear dropped to nothing.  It’s called unexplained sudden deafness.  Usually people with hearing loss do experience declines in their lives, but nothing this sudden or traumatic.  We were all devastated. Serena’s response was amazing, and she attempted to carry on as always, not admitting that this was such a significant setback or hardship.

She was in Grade 11 and by October, we had a live captioning service called CART in place, thanks to the supportive school board and teachers.  In fact, a TV station did a health news story about Serena and the CART service, hoping to make others aware of this wonderful aid in the classroom.  Click HERE to view the CTV news video, called “Living with Hearing Loss”.

Serena also got new high powered hearing aids for some sound and her lip reading became stellar.  We also knew about cochlear implants and began the application process. She was approved for two implants but will receive only one for now in her right ear.  Think of it as a bionic ear, in which sounds will be transmitted electronically into her cochlea, bypassing the damaged hearing cells.

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Three days short of one year of deafness, she will have surgery.  The health care system  has risen above our expectations and all costs are covered by our provincial government.  We are so fortunate to live in a country like Canada that provides such significant financial support in health care.

At the end of August, her cochlear implant will be ‘turned on’ and Serena will begin to re-learn how to hear.  It is not instantaneous perfect hearing as we have naturally. The brain has to re-map all the new electronic sounds coming in and eventually Serena will hear them.  It could take up to 6 months to understand words again, but we anticipate it will be faster due to Serena’s well-developed ‘hearing brain.’

So our new journey is beginning, and we are optimistic that we will all adapt to the technology and are excited about the world of hearing awaiting Serena.

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Along the way are many support systems, and some I have discovered through online searches.  Thank goodness for the internet!  I have connected with other parents and professionals on Facebook and elsewhere.  One group in particular that has chapters throughout North America is Hands & Voices.  I now belong to Alberta Hands & Voices and appreciate all the help and support of their Facebook group. They are a parent-driven support group that advocates for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

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No matter what bumps in the road we have, there are others to help us along. Has it been an easy year for us? No, it has been stressful and overwhelming, but by sharing this special story about my amazing daughter, maybe some of you will also find hope in difficult times.

**UPDATE**  Serena had her surgery as scheduled on July 17 and all went well.  She has fully recovered and is looking forward to our activation date, Aug  26, when the cochlear implant will be turned on.  Thanks everyone for your kind comments and support.

29 Comments on Silence is not Golden

  1. Nancy
    July 16, 2014 at 7:58 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing your story, Kelly! My daughter is a Speech Language Pathologist working in a school for the deaf. She has taught me a lot, so I understand much of what you have shared.
    Your layout is fabulous,and I like all the fun photos. Your daughter is beautiful!
    I will pray for you all as you continue on this journey! 🙂

  2. Maria
    July 16, 2014 at 8:10 am (2 years ago)

    Dear Kelly,i wish all the best for your beautiful daughter!!! And also for your whole Family! She is Young and i am sure that every Thing will be ok .Serena enjoy your new life 🙂
    you wrote : maybe some of you will also find hope in difficult times…and it is amazing that i have just received your email , after i decided to have also a big surgery.
    Sorry about my english, Maria from Vienna

  3. Beth
    July 16, 2014 at 8:13 am (2 years ago)

    Kelly you have an amazing daughter, thanks for sharing Serena’s story. I am wishing you all the best with the surgery and recovery.

  4. Christy
    July 16, 2014 at 8:15 am (2 years ago)

    Serena seems able to adapt to things in a very significant way. Getting her implant will be another chance for her to shine and show you her strength and resilience. Best wishes for her surgery!!!!

  5. Robin Mowat
    July 16, 2014 at 8:27 am (2 years ago)

    I will send up a prayer for your daughter, Kelly. She is beautiful both inside and out, obviously takes after her Mom!

  6. JOdi
    July 16, 2014 at 8:31 am (2 years ago)

    Kelly I had no idea!! My sister who passed was also deaf, and loss the majority of her hearing growing up. She never let that stop her for succeeding in life, and was truly my inspiration! She was also a canidate for cohlear implants before she died :(… I hope all the best for your daughter… and I admire your strength in telling her story! I will keep your family in my thoughts today!

  7. Agnieszka Belladea
    July 16, 2014 at 8:41 am (2 years ago)

    I wish her all the luck and speed recovery, she is a fantastic, beautiful and strong person!

  8. Michelle Marks
    July 16, 2014 at 8:44 am (2 years ago)

    Big hugs, tons of prayers and blessings for Serena and you all. I know Serena is a strong and brave young woman and she’ll sail through this with flying colors! Love you …be strong Mom…she’ s going to do fine!!!! xoxoxoxo

  9. Ali
    July 16, 2014 at 8:53 am (2 years ago)

    Kelly, that’s awesome! I had the privilege of meeting a lady with hearing impairment that also reads lips. I would never have guessed! I’m so thankful that the help yoyr family and daughter required is readily available and speedy! I hope her recovery is quick and her transition to re-learning hearing goes smoothly ♡

  10. Jennifer Reynard
    July 16, 2014 at 8:55 am (2 years ago)

    Wow, what a tough, but beautiful story to share!!! Serena definitely gets her strength and beauty from her MOM!!! 🙂 It is just wonderful that technology has advanced this far and that Serena will be given another chance to hear the world again. Will keep you both in prayers!! Jennifer, Calgary P.S. love the sign language symbol on your layout! Brilliant idea.

  11. Sandi Smith
    July 16, 2014 at 9:01 am (2 years ago)

    Best of luck to Serena. I too am battling extreame hearing loss and Cochlear implants may a part of my future if my hearing continues to worsen. I am sure she will do fine!

  12. Asia King
    July 16, 2014 at 9:02 am (2 years ago)

    I can’t believe what your beautiful girl and your whole family must have been going through. I will be thinking of you guys tomorrow and in the following months, and I’m sure Serena will be enjoying all the beautiful sounds of the world again before too long! x

  13. Laurie Finch
    July 16, 2014 at 9:10 am (2 years ago)

    I will be sending thoughts of strength and positive vibes out to Serena tomorrow and for your whole family’s journey forward. Serena will do just fine, I imagine. She is lucky to have such a strong and supportive advocate in her Mom! Hugs to you all!!

  14. Sharon Pelecg
    July 16, 2014 at 9:51 am (2 years ago)

    Healing thoughts sent to Serena for a successful procedure! Love you my friend!

  15. Miae
    July 16, 2014 at 10:05 am (2 years ago)

    Kelly, all the best for Serena’s upcoming surgery! Thank you for sharing, my eldest will also have to have surgery in the next few years and having lived with that knowledge has definitely been stressful. I’m glad you’ve found a support system and I’ll be thinking about you and your family. Hugs, Miae

  16. Misty
    July 16, 2014 at 10:56 am (2 years ago)

    Wow Kelly! Sounds like you all have been going through a lot. So glad you have the support system and that she is staying so positive through it all! Thinking of you all and praying for her and a safe recovery. 🙂

  17. Lisa - papergrace
    July 16, 2014 at 11:11 am (2 years ago)

    I will be thinking of your beautiful daughter and lifting all of you up in prayer. It is so amazing that we have this technology now and I hope that this provides her the ability to hear what she’s been missing. Praying for an uneventful surgery and a quick, recovery. ♥ Hugs!!

  18. Ashley Harris
    July 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Kelly!! Hugs all around! What a great thing for her. Prayers and wishes for everything to go as planned!!

  19. Lisa Duke
    July 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing Kelly….I know things will go perfect for you and your daughter!!! Hugs and prayers being sent your way!

  20. Lynne Joncas
    July 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Kelly, I’ve seen my father, an aunt and an uncle gain their hearing and their lives back after cochlear implant surgery; progressive hearing loss runs rampant through our family and several more of us will be looking into the surgery when our hearing reaches that point of loss. My dad could make out words immediately after the implant was turned on, but that’s not always the case.My aunt and uncle both took a little longer but my uncle in particular now has excellent hearing. Your daughter will be so glad she had it done; I pray all goes well for her and that she gets the best possible results. Hugs!

  21. Deby
    July 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm (2 years ago)

    Beautiful story! My Grandson received his first implant after he turned 1 and the other war was done the following year. The Miracle of science.

  22. Katherine “Kat or Kate” Blue
    July 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm (2 years ago)

    Prayers for a successful surgery today! Each CI journey is different yet we are all still connected in some way. … it was wonderful that you scrapbooked this part of her journey, I hope to go back and do that for my sons scrapbook one day; its been a bit painful even though he has come a long way. He just had the 2nd one done in 2013 and it was amazing. Thanks for sharing your story, it truly helps others 🙂

  23. Patty Rogers
    July 17, 2014 at 12:23 am (2 years ago)

    Kelly, I am so happy for your family and especially Serena! My hope and prayers will be with you all as this miracle of hearing returns to Serena’s life. May this be a perfect solution for her. God bless the Klapstein family!

  24. Mara McEwin (@maramcewin)
    July 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm (2 years ago)

    Kelly what a wonderful blog post! I am so happy to know more about you and
    your family. Serena seems like such a wonderful spirit, and must take after her incredible mom. I am so happy for all of you and that she will be given this amazing implant. Thinking of you all during the surgery!

  25. Stacey Vitale
    July 18, 2014 at 4:08 am (2 years ago)

    Kelly, that is awesome! You will be so happy that you persued this for Serena. My daughter has bilateral implants. She is six years old. She got her first implant at three and second at four. She started repeating ling sounds the day of activation. Serena will do well since she has had stimulation to her right ear with hearing aids. Take it one day at a time. Wishing you and Serena the best always! Here is to a new life for your princess!

  26. izzy anderson
    July 18, 2014 at 5:16 am (2 years ago)

    Serena is amazing! What a thing to go through in high school! I am so impressed with her and all her battles and triumphs. I am so happy she is able to have this surgery and pray it will be a complete success. I hope all went well. Do update us! You are such a strong family. Wishing wonderful things for beautiful, smart Serena.

  27. Lisa Barrie
    July 18, 2014 at 6:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Dear Kelly,

    Thank you for sharing this amazing story with all of us “cyber friends” out here who have seen your beautiful girl grow up. She is so blessed to have a wonderful loving mother and family who will be with her every step of the way. I’m thrilled for her to get the wonderful device and I hope she adapts quickly…you will be in my thoughts.
    Big cybers hugs,

  28. Cindy Gay
    July 19, 2014 at 7:52 pm (2 years ago)

    Good news for your beautiful daughter!

  29. jill d
    July 31, 2014 at 12:39 am (2 years ago)

    I trust the operation went well. My thoughts and chanting are with your gorgeous daughter and the family.


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