Another busy week! Congratulations to DeAnn and Jonathan on their new baby (finally a boy!) and yes, I am very jealous. The last month of pregnancy is so uncomfortable, but for once, I don't want this baby to come too early. Our biggest news is that Rachel needs to have her entire implant replaced, and her surgery is scheduled for August 28 (two weeks before my due date). About a week and a half ago, we started having trouble with Rachel's implant, and she told me that it was hurting her. When I checked it, I felt a hard lump over the implant site. We called the doctor, had some trouble finding someone who would see her quickly, and ended up driving her 3 and a half hours to UNC-Chapel Hill to get her checked out. We learned that the magnet, an important part of her implant that activates the device, had fallen out of place and was moving around under her skin. It would have been a quick fix, but when we took her back for a CT scan, we learned that there were other problems with the implant that make it necessary to replace the whole thing. Part of the implant is an electrode string that goes in the cochlea, a shell-shaped piece of the inner ear. Rachel's electrodes punctured the skin in her ear canal. This is a huge infection risk and makes the faulty electrodes useless to her. They need to be replaced and the punctured skin needs to be sewn up to prevent further problems. While they are doing all that, the doctors feel that they should move the magnet farther up her head to where her skull is flatter, making it less likely to have the outer piece (the coil) fall off and less likely for the magnet to fall out again. Here is a link to a site that gives a good explanation of how the implant works and what it looks like: http://www.theuniversityhospital.com/cochlearweb/cochlearabout/whatiscochlear.htm
We are grateful that we were able to find out about the more serious problems now while it can be fixed, but it is frustrating to have to go through all this again. The surgery is usually done as an outpatient thing, but because of all the post-surgical problems we had last time (two weeks shy of a year ago), the doctors plan on admitting her at least overnight so they can keep an eye on her. Rachel is handling it all very well, and although she says she wants to hear again, we are working on learning to sign better. It is very clear to us that no matter how much the implant can help her hear, she will always be deaf and there will always be times when she needs to use sign language. A sister in our ward used to teach ASL at the college level and she has started an 18-week ASL class for all interested ward members. I was very pleased that even in our small ward, 14 people came to class. They come for different reasons, but many of them are the Primary leaders who will work with Rachel.
Our family is busy, but happy and doing well. Its fun to hear Nathan using more words and speaking more clearly. He is very independent, but still cuddly and very happy. Hannah starts Kindergarten in two weeks and in the meantime, she tries to spend as much time as possible in the water. Christian is scheduled to retake the GMAT on Saturday in a week and a half, and during Rachel's surgery and having our fourth kid, we hope to make progress on researching and applying to grad school for next year. We are praying that everything in the next few weeks goes as planned, especially the surgery and birth, and that I stay sane. Thankfully, nothing seems to get Christian too upset and that helps me from going nuts. Its hot and humid, but the summer is coming to an end and we are happy and busy. Please--keep us in your prayers!