Sunday, March 2, 2014

And the winners are....!!!!


It all started as an idea to promote awareness for International Cochlear Implant Day, which was on February 25th. I asked some members of my Italian Forum if they had any ideas as to what type of contest to create. One of the members, Luca, suggested a Create Your Own CI Food/ Create a Video on YouTube Contest to make it fun for families to have an activity to do together with their kids.
I thought, excellent!!! What can I do to motivate people to participate? I was reading Linkedin when I saw the President of Ear Gear's picture pop up, so I thought I'd throw a wild card and contact him to see if he would be willing to donate a pair of Ear Gear to one winner.
He replied to my email in a flash and said, "You know what, Jodi, I will donate up to 25 pairs of Ear Gear to help you promote International CI Day!"
This is EAR GEAR: www.gearforears.com
It was one of those "OMG" emails:-)
Because I belong to many forums around the world, I began posting the contest on these forums. Thanks to Ear Gear, I was able to give prizes to everyone. Special thanks to Rachel Chaikof for promoting awareness through her power forum Cochlear Implant Online on Facebook.
Here are some of the winners!!!!












 

 




Monday, February 24, 2014

HEAR(T)


Tomorrow, February 25th is International Cochlear Implant Day. I first read about this event a couple of years ago, but it has always been so low key that no one really knew about its existence. I have tried to change that by creating an International Make Your Own CI Food / Create a CI video to raise awareness contest. Thank you so much to Mark Rosal of Ear Gear who has donated various pairs of EAR GEAR that will reach winners all over the world: we already have entries from Australia, Pakistan, India, Italy, the USA, the UK, Norway, etc. Parents from around the world have posted cakes, videos, pizzas, cookies, bananas, cous cous...that they have created together with their kids to create a magical CI moment.

Someone from a group asked why do we need a CI Day?

We need a CI Day to celebrate the work we are doing with our children, the words we teach every single day to give them a voice, the hours we sacrifice to provide our kids with a future and above all, the neverending supply of love that comes out of our pores when we are at our lowest moments in trying to find the strength to take the next step forward when all we want to do is crawl back into bed and bury ourselves under the covers.

Every day new parents of babies diagnosed with profound hearing loss appear on the forums desperate for answers, and the Moms are always ready to take time to answer questions and provide resources. We pay it forward every single day, because we lived that abyss years ago.

The Mom who made the cake on this post wrote the following in a comment:
When my daughter saw the cake, she still didn't talk very well. She touched her ear and pointed to the cake, saying Boo-Boo, because I didn't make this cake now, but in June of last year when Martina was one. Although Martina was born in March of 2010, for us it was as if she was born in June of last year. She lived her first two years of life in total silence, she had never heard her mother's voice or her father's voice, the birds singing, the sound of a closing door, nothing nothing and nothing. In fact, when she began to hear, my calm and silent Martina became another child, much more self-confident and now she never stops talking. I am so happy to have made the right decision for her, otherwise I would never have had such a crazy-beautiful little girl. And now...it's her baby sister's turn. We still don't know her degree of hearing loss, but if it will be like her big sister's, we will not hesitate in making the same decision for cochlear implants. I don't know if this cake can be considered an entry in the International Cochlear Implant Day Contest, because I made it a year ago, but for me in this moment, it was more important for me to have shared about Emanuela's hearing loss...they are my sun and my moon:-) 

We are a Community and we have earned our International CI Day.

Hmm...how to celebrate?

As I tell all of my Moms, take your baby out for an ice-cream, a simple Mother-Child ice-cream: no lessons, no therapy, just a lot of hugs, kisses and rainbow sprinkles on top!!




Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough"


I began writing this blog five years ago for two reasons: I wanted to share Jordan's hearing loss journey with other parents, and writing was a cathartic experience that enabled me to heal things I never knew needed healing.

Naomi Higgs, co-founder of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle once wrote: "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon!" No truer words have ever been said in regard to raising a Deaf baby.

I remember when Jordan was about two years old and wore hearing aids. I took him out for some ice-cream in the center and we stumbled across a Rock band. He pointed his little finger at the musicians playing and indicated that he wanted to get out of his stroller. He stood there for about thirty seconds, then his little legs started moving and he did this funny squat dance to the beat of the song.
I started crying, my baby could hear music with his hearing aids.
We danced there for a good twenty minutes, then we went home.

I wrote about how his pre-school teachers told me not to send him to Elementary School because he was violent and could hurt other children. Jordan was extremely slow to learn new vocabulary, he had very poor comprehension and even poorer expressive language skills. I told those teachers that he was frustrated because he had difficulty communicating, but he could read and he was going to Elementary School.

Jordan got his Cochlear Implant when he was in 4th grade.

The CI gave him access to spontaneous language: he felt closer to his peers, his frustration decreased, he began learning to speak English. The picture above is of the first time Jordan spoke on the telephone and heard our voices. My Mother-in-Law captured the moment.

Jordan went to a Middle School specializing in Musical Education. He sang in a choir and learned to play the Classical Guitar.

When I ran into difficulty during the first two years of high school and was considering moving him to a more difficult educational setting, my CI Mom friend, Paula said, "NEVER set limitations on your son, ALWAYS strive for more. His hearing loss is only one part of him, he can do ANYTHING he sets his mind to achieving."  Jordan chose to change schools, conscious that he was choosing a more difficult academic path. And he is doing just fine.

Between Italy, the USA and Australia, I am part of a global Cochlear Implant Community. I use my experiences and network to help others at all points of the journey, just as I learn from families who are further ahead of us on the path.
This type of CI Community support is fundamental to ensure that our kids remain kids, as well as to safeguard our own well-being during the process.

I am proud and honored to say that Cochlear EMEA has recognized the importance of a Mother's Voice in the journey that so many of us travel, and they have offered me the opportunity to serve as a Consultant to Cochlear Europe, Middle East, Africa in regard to communications and relationship management with recipients and candidates and their parents and other relatives.

Three continents of families.
One family at a time.


 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pierre...The Homeless Man at the Fountain of Trevi


My good friend works in a gourmet food store next to the Fountain of Trevi. He has bilateral cochlear implants and the heart of a Romantic Roman Gladiator. He wakes up at 5 am. every morning to go to work and every now and then sends me photos of a spectacular sunrise over Rome or some mouth-watering pasta dish.
The other day he told me a beautiful story...


I'd like to tell you the story of Pierre, a homeless man who walks the streets of Rome. I see him almost every day. He must be about 65 years old. He's thin, has bright eyes and has always sparked my interest, because I always see him reading really big books, while sitting on the steps of a church or theater. 

He always has a book in his hands.

Today I got to work early, so I sat on the steps of a nearby theater. A short time later, Pierre arrived, said hello and sat down.
I said, "Pierre, what are you reading?"
He told me to come closer and showed me a thick book in French.
I told him, "I don't know French, and you?"
He proudly replied, "I'm French."
I asked him "How did you end up in Rome, France is pretty far from here."
He looked at me with such sadness in his eyes, that I was immediately sorry to have asked the question.
He straightened himself up a bit, and in perfect Italian began telling me his story.
Pierre said, "Many years ago I was a professor at Sorbonne University. I fell in love with a student not much younger than myself. A few months later we became husband and wife. We were completely in love. We were so happy together, even though the only thing missing was a baby to complete our love. But I didn't need to have everything, I had her and her love. We were happy for twenty years.
Then, she got sick, with that horrifying disease, I can barely say it's name...cancer....they told us she had only a few months to live. Her dream was to travel around Europe. So, I decided to sell everything, every single thing we possessed and we began to travel. We visited France, Germany, Italy, Holland, all of the places that she dreamed of seeing.
But every day she got sicker and sicker and day by day I started losing her.
But she was happy, happy to have me by her side and to travel. In the meantime, our money was dwindling...I spent the last of it on a beautiful funeral worthy of the woman I loved.
Nothing was the same for me after she left me...she took me with her when she died.
I began wandering through Europe, and I ended up here. Reading helps me to feel less alone and to have her always with me."

My friend and Pierre have become friends, and he has begun bringing him books to read. 

Pierre is not his real name, but in the end..."What's in a name?"

 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Simple


Last year at this time, I spent 15 days at sea drinking Dom Perignon and devouring lobster. I saw breathtaking sunsets over wild natural settings and watched fireworks while holding hands. I got up at sunrise to go jogging dirt paths surrounded by wildflowers and crystal blue waters until the heat motivated stepping right on into the sea to cool off. I lived Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

I just spent the past four days with my friend Rosy. We got up every morning at 7 am to be on the baseball field by 8 am. as she had to score the baseball games of an International Baseball Tournament. I stood for the Italian National Anthem and watched them play ball. We hung out on a campsite dedicated to the 60 teams and drank cold beer to wash down the dirt hanging in the humidity. We ate Mexican food on plastic plates and made room for sweaty mothers pushing hungry babies through the small spaces between the wooden picnic tables.

Whether you're in Jimmy Choos or Crocs, own your shoes.
And smile as you walk that mile.