Getting the diagnosis

Getting the diagnosis
When she was only 5 weeks old, little Ariane contracted meningitis. “The doctors saved her life, but the illness left her deaf,” tells her mother, Nancy Lalonde.
When she was only 5 weeks old, little Ariane contracted meningitis. “The doctors saved her life, but the illness left her deaf,” tells her mother, Nancy Lalonde.

My husband and I would take turns sitting by Ariane’s side at night while she was in the hospital. She had to do a hearing test because meningitis can cause hearing loss. I was sure that she was fine so I wasn’t worried. But during the test, I could tell from the look on the audiologist’s face that something was wrong. Then she told me, “I regret to inform you that your daughter is profoundly deaf in both ears.”

The words weren’t registering. I couldn’t believe it. I called my husband and he came to meet us. He cried and said it was his fault that our daughter was deaf. It’s a little complicated, but Ariane has a minor kidney problem that is hereditary and that lead to a urinary infection. The bacteria spread and she developed meningitis. That’s why my husband felt he was to blame. For my part, I couldn’t stop thinking that I was about to lose the ability to communicate with my daughter.

I heard the audiologist speaking, but it was like I was in a fog.

Not long after, the pediatrician came by and assured us that Ariane could have a very good life despite her handicap. Then, the audiologist discussed the option of cochlear implants to help her hear. We decided to go ahead with the operation.

I let Ariane and her determination carry me through. Of course, I was sad. I sang her lullabies knowing full well that she couldn’t hear me. That made me cry. I consulted a psychologist at the IRDPQ, the Quebec City rehab centre for people with physical disabilities. It felt good to talk to someone neutral.

My other two children, who were 15 and 7 at the time, took the news about their sister’s handicap well. In hindsight, however, I realize that my youngest son didn’t get enough attention.

As for Ariane, she’s been able to hear since she was 6 months old thanks to the cochlear implants. She’s 5 now and doing well. She even sees a positive side to her handicap : she can unplug her device to play quietly, in her bubble. It’s a good thing I learned sign language!

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Source : Naître et grandir magazine, May–June 2017
Interview by Nathalie Vallerand

 

Photo : Maxim Morin