Little Boy’s Voice – LOST


Chris Portis – 18 years old (Junior year for CCA yearbook)

This morning I emailed Chris’s yearbook picture to the mother who is in charge of the CCA yearbook.  I think it is due the 20th.  For ME, I’m cutting it kind of close being that I am normally the first one to submit things due to those in leadership for our homeschool co-op!

Perhaps I was just tired (it WAS early, and I had a lot to do today so didn’t sleep well for “worryin’ over it”), but I was a little tearful lookin’ at the “mug” of the baby of our family. I felt as though my little boy’s voice was LOST.

Chris had speech problems, and started school late as a 6-year-old.  This is ironic as his is the best voice I “hear” in my family now. He enunciates really well (at least for ME), and he has great volume and projects well. (Likely in part due to a couple of years of Debate)

I was emotional about it, for I don’t have a “little boy voice” memory of Chris. We have some videos of the kids when they were little. Now that I “hear again”, I can make out what Chris use to sound like.  But his voice is “lost” for me… I have no memory of it even after listening to tapes. Many times when I “hear” someone that I’ve known for a long time, I have a twinge in my memory. It’s like a growing pain – as my brain stretches and searches – to see if there is a memory of that person’s voice.  I don’t burn any calories hearing the voice of someone “new”.  I don’t have a memory of their voice.

When I was activated on May 13, 2005, it was the FIRST time I had ever heard Chris.  My husband and daughter chuckle at some of their memories of Chris’s voice changing. That adolescent “crack” of a maturing young man’s voice left no imprint on me – for I did not hear it.  I am unable to reminisce with them.


I learned to really WATCH my kids when they were growing up. We’ve all been told that mom’s seems to have an extra pair of eyes in the back of their heads.  I made sure I made use of mine.  Desperate to understand and connect with my children, I made sure I WATCHED. I looked carefully at body language and facial expression.  I wanted to know how they were feeling, and wanted to understand what they were trying to convey.

I had to know that when both rushed inside talking at the same time, that I had to see AROUND the story of the squished worm. I had to see on Chris’s face how gleeful he was to have squished the worm, and how it felt.  I wanted to identify with his pleasure of this, and deciphered the look on his face to know he was eager for that “Mama high 5“!

My daughter, however, had tears in her eyes and her lip was all a-quiver.  She recited the same story.  Yet, her chest heaved with indignation, and her finger shook as she pointed it at the human I had just given a “high 5” too.  It seems the worm was squished all right, but done so on her arm!  So I had to smother a laugh, and commiserate with the little darling all the while wiping “squished worm” from her skinny little arm.

Still Adapting

I am truly blessed to be “hearing again”. However, hearing with a cochlear implant is not “perfect hearing”. I have learned to make some changes now that I am hearing through the miracle of a cochlear implant.

I hear voices great. Other sounds?  Not so great… I also don’t hear well in busy, noisy environments.  These are just two of the reasons I ended up training for a hearing assistance dog.

I have learned to watch Chloe. I pay attention to where her focus is, and try to always be aware of what she is hearing. She has these great “hound dog” ears that perk up, and her eyebrows are especially expressive as she concentrates, and alerts to the sounds around her.


(See how tired she is after a shopping trip?)

I have changed the way I shop. Chloe does great if I run my errands in the morning, and she is more alert and “ready to work” when I remember to take care of things early in the day.  If I end up having to go do something later in the day, she still does her job… but there’s a bit of a “drag” to her step. No dog can look tired like a hound dog can! I realized it was more fair to her to do “work” early in the day. We still do things at night like movies, eating out… but she is normally able to curl up on her blanket until needed during those times.

hlaa-feb-034 Here Chloe is resting at a late morning meeting while I am giving a workshop on “HoH Valentines”.  She has learned to rest when she can, and work when it’s “time to do so”.

This morning she and I went grocery shopping. I never use to attempt going to the grocery store alone.  Talk about feeling housebound!

Today while shopping, I unsuccessfully pulled to the side to get out of the way of someone in a hurry. In order to keep Chloe from getting trampled on, I dropped my shopping list and 4 coupons.  Chloe does an “automatic retrieve” of things dropped. Within 45 seconds I had my shopping list back in hand with 4 slightly damp coupons. (Bending to the floor to pick up something flat, can cause me to GO FLAT due to Meniere’s)

We were almost finished shopping, and I noticed that Chloe’s ears were up and could even tell from watching her muzzle a low growl was erupting from her chest. I quickly shushed her but looked at where she was so intently staring. A man sat on the floor near the magazines – all sprawled out – and apparently making himself at home.  Chloe knew this was unusual, and wanted to make sure I knew he was there.  After we rounded the corner, I reached down to pat her head and said, “Good girl, Chloe”. She wagged her tail and knew I had acknowledged what she had seen and HEARD.

Adapting – My List

I believe every WISE person learns to adapt.  If you look back on your life and see some real growth, chances are you learned to adapt at some point.  Adapting is not “caving in” to other’s ideas, peer pressure, or external stimuli.  In actuality, for one to adapt one must consciously choose to make necessary changes in order to succeed.  We don’t ever adapt in order to “fail on purpose”.

I made a list of adaptations I have made in order to “succeed”. By no means an exhaustive list, this hopefully will help you come up with a list of your own.  It’s very helpful to “track changes” and record progress.

♥ Shop/run errands early so Chloe performs “best”

♥ Taught Chloe to walk in a modified heel… slightly forward as I have poor peripheral vision to the lower left

♥ Go to Costco on Monday or Tuesday mornings to avoid crowds

♥ Move my chair in church to allow Chloe room right in front of me so she doesn’t encroach on other folk’s space

♥ Follow-up with every face-to-face meeting with an email to make sure I understood

♥ Use Facebook to know how to better pray for others as I don’t talk to many people in person and NEVER by phone

♥ Watch the show “24” with enthusiasm as I’ll have to watch it anyway to be with my hubby on Monday night’s…

Give you any ideas?  Now go make your own list! (smile)

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

One thought on “Little Boy’s Voice – LOST

  1. I’m an early girl too! List maker, note taker, researcher, and obsessive planner are my still-improving adaptations.
    It is sad that we miss out on things, like a memory of your son’s little boy voice. I’m so sorry you have that ache, my dear sweet friend.
    Part of my disability is losing and confusing memories. Mom will say, “hey do you remember”, and I won’t be able to pull up what she’s referring to.
    I know I’ve lost friends just because I can’t always remember what they told me or confuse the context of it. I come across as not caring.
    I may not be “timely and targeted”, but the friends that have remained know beneath the confusion is a ton of love and concern. They’ve learned to adapt to me, as I learn to adapt. That’s a solid friend worth keeping!
    Bless you, and love,
    –Lisa and Kenai

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