Yesterday Scarlett had her second auditory brainstem response (ABR) test. This test measures the brain's response to sounds using electrodes on the scalp. Small earphones are used to produce sounds at different levels, which gives audiologists an accurate idea of what is being heard. This test allows hearing deficits to be diagnosed accurately long before children can describe their own hearing. It is done under general anesthesia and takes about 2 hours.
The hospital tries to schedule babies for anesthesia early in the day, since they have to be NPO (no food by mouth) for several hours before. You just can't make a baby understand why you won't give them a bottle when they are hungry! This worked out well for us this time, though it meant being up and on the road before the sun was up.
The test went well. She is officially considered to have moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears, though the left is slightly worse than the right. The most affected is the higher pitches, which are critical for speech development. There has been a very slight improvement since last time, most likely due to the infection she had then. So, not much change, and we move forward with hearing aids and speech therapy. Something that I don't think many people understand is that she CAN hear - she hears our voices when we are close, she hears the dog, the television, her musical toys, the door closing. We really questioned her hearing for a long time, because she would only rarely react to these sounds, but as she has developed, she is much more interactive and shows us that she hears us.
The doctor who did the test was going to give the results to Scarlett's audiologist so that we can fast-track hearing aids while we still have good insurance coverage. I appreciate that they are so understanding about this and trying to help us wherever they can.
Tomorrow we go in for her last dose of Vincristine (just out-patient chemo) and might have to sneak a little blood transfusion in, too. Another long, long day at the hospital!