I make no apology for how long this will be as the journey, although it’s only been 5 months, feels far longer.
Our beautiful girl (5) was diagnosed with High Frequency Hearing Loss (HFHL) in August last year. It was a shock. She had us all utterly fooled. Only a very minor speech impediment even hinted at something amiss and after a few frustrating sessions of speech therapy it took a hearing test to show she was running with about 80% hearing in the right, and only about 65% in the left but at high frequency (think: bells, alarms, whistles, as well as ‘f’, ‘s’ and ‘th’ sounds) her hearing was dipping off the chart like a cliff at around 30%.
“Had you no inkling at all?” asked the well-meaning audiologist, “she is classed as profoundly deaf at that range, how amazing she has coped and lip-read all this time!”
She meant it as a massive compliment to our sweet girl but we felt so deep down stupid and ignorant that we hung our heads so low leaving the clinic that day we could have gloomily licked the floor on the way out.
She was given one hearing aid at first, an ugly beige comma-shaped thing. I hated the sight of it and could barely even bring myself to touch it the first few days. Every day we fiddled with teeny batteries, wax removers, whistling, jumper first THEN hearing aid, and of course the ever-present fear of dropping it down the loo…. But eventually, as with any inconvenience, you suck it up and get on with it.
Then in October, I naively expected at the return check-up for them to announce she didn’t need the left one anymore, it was all a big mix up and show us a corrected hearing test chart and send us on our merry way.
Then I woke up.
At this visit, the aid was cranked up even further still and she was given another one, smaller this time, for her right ear.
“‘God’, I silently pleaded, ‘this is not the plan!'”
We tried to jazz them up a bit with stickers but these just end up entangled in her unfathomably flyaway hair.
Many a morning I’d comb her hair only to find a tiny star or tennis ball sticker snarled up in there.
Truthfully we felt confused by this decline in her hearing as it ran contrary to what Clever Consultant #1 had declared back in August: “It’s congenital. We’ll never know the cause. It will never get any better but won’t get any worse.”. So I consulted my old pal Google who told me that there ARE tests that can be run to eliminate, if not establish, causes of deafness. So I demanded my money back. No, sorry, I politely emailed to ask for a case review and voila!
In December, we meet Clever Consultant #2. He is cheery, charming and reassures us he’ll write letters off to Other Clever People and see what we can find out. At this appointment, the test shows further decline BUT fear not, her middle ears are chock full of glue. Not Pritt Stick, but unfriendly fluid which is darn hard to get rid of and can deafen a treat. An operation to insert grommets is threatened but we’re given 2 months to pray the glue away.
We did. And on Monday this week we are told the glue has gone. Praise God. All clear. We are delighted. But wait. As she sits through her hearing test I suddenly realise I can hear the beeps coming through her headphones from across the room….. and she’s staring blankly ahead. Oblivious.
“Unfortunately the hearing seems to have declined rapidly” and now we’re confronted with a startling reality… she now has only around 20% hearing in both ears. With no glue to blame this is truly bad news.
Clever Consultant #2 has no words. Well, actually he had a few: “rapid deterioration”, “potential for entire loss”, “assessment for cochlear implants”, “learn sign language”, “quickly”.
We are despatched off home and we lay on our couches sucker-punched and not sure where to start in processing this.
Everything we thought we knew about our baby’s miraculous healing at birth was being challenged. Read my blog “There’s A Pulse“.
Suddenly our testimony felt under threat. A wolf was prowling round the door.
Why is there this hearing loss at all? We are certain this is recent. We don’t believe she was deaf from birth. Not one person who knows her would say they suspected or noticed any hearing issue at all – let alone a big one!
And why is it on the move? It feels alive. The consultant hypothesised that it could have been caused by the common (but until this week unheard of by us) CMV virus transmitted during birth.. but surely if it’s a virus that is live and altering her hearing it can logically be stopped, cured and retreat?!
No answers are forthcoming from the Clever People, they’re too busy today. We’re left out on our own to let our emotions, questions and worry swirl all inside us as everyday family life carried on around us.
Do we pray? Fast? Get the whole church praying? Or just the ones that aren’t flaky? Do we sign up for sign language classes? Do we apply for support benefits? I start gathering information on the options but something of my Peace is gone. It was left in that consulting room.
So now, the fight was on. We were blessed yesterday to receive a clear word from God to stand on: “Do not give an inch”. This was closely followed by a revelation of how to prioritise in the battle..
I shared with my husband an analogy that came right into my spirit as we shared our faith and heart in this challenging moment.
If my husband told me ‘I am going to buy you two gifts. One will be very expensive and exclusive.. it’s diamonds and you can choose them! The second will be a bottle of perfume. But we only have one hour.’ When we head off to the shops it would be so ridiculous of me to spend 55 minutes choosing the perfume and leave only 5 for the diamonds!
A very modern take on prioritising perhaps (Matthew 6:33), but something inside both of us just clicked. We were so focused on navigating our way into the deaf ‘world’ and working out how we deal tactically with the situation that we left little time or energy to pursue her full, restorative healing.
I thank God we have heard His correction. Now we have adjusted our vision. We are heading for a different end to this now.
We are no longer planning on accommodating this audacious, demonic theft of our daughter’s hearing. We rebuke this organ failure and we command this virus to retreat in His mighty, all-powerful, sovereign Name!
Just 3 hours ago as I type this I was about to publish this blog asking for your prayers…… when suddenly God stepped in.
We asked the elders in our church to anoint our girl and pray for her healing right after the meeting this morning. I removed her hearing aids. We prayed. We thanked God and slowly people dispersed. But after 10 minutes of waiting right where we prayed my husband and I started to test her hearing. I am (almost) without words. My friends: SHE CAN HEAR.
Even halfway across a large fairly noisy room, my husband whispers a series of random words behind his hand and she casually repeats them….!!!
We have continued to test her through the past few hours and, with no hearing aids in, she is responding normally!
Friends, if you believe that Christ is the Word of God. If you believe He heals because He is the Great Creator and Physician, if you know in your spirit that His love conquers all, and far above all we can ask, think or imagine… will you stand with us, shoulder to shoulder and rejoice in this evidence of our faith. Will you give a moment in holiness to thank God for this miracle and celebrate with us. Our hearts are so full of gratitude and joy we hardly know what to do or say. Such an extraordinary miracle on such an apparently ordinary day…. oh thank You so much Jesus.
This is the journey of just one family, in one home, in one country….. but the victory – it’s for all of us.