Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Because sound matters: Day 2 with Oticon

It was day 2 on our Oticon adventure and we awoke anxious for all that the day had in store!  Our schedule was busy!  Conference from nine to five at the Oticon offices, followed by dinner and entertainment in New York City.  Prior to our trip, we had been a bit anxious about how Brody would do in so many new situations.  Though he does have a friendly personality, Brody still tends to cling and stop communicating when he is uncomfortable.  (Side note: Just the week before, Brody chose not to participate in his speech session with his teacher of two years because she had a student observing their session.  He remained uninvolved most all of the session.)  I mention all of this to say these concerns now seem silly.  Brody was friendly, excited, and outgoing from the beginning of our trip and did not waver despite the many new situations and people he encountered.  These were his friends! (That's what he kept telling us!)  So while Travis and I prepared for a day of learning, Brody headed to "camp", a day filled with crafting, games, and play in a room near to us at Oticon's offices.

I took eight pages of notes during the day and while I am sure you do not want to read the nitty gritty details, I must cover the highlights!

Our morning started with Alan Raffauf (Vice President, Marketing of Oticon Medical US) who reviewed the basics on bone anchored hearing systems, new products (Ponto 3 SuperPower!), and challenges Oticon wants to address.  We learned that ponto (the name of Brody's bone anchored hearing device) is Latin for bridge.  That is so neat!  In bone anchored hearing, sound stimulates the device which vibrates the bone around the cochlea, sending the hearing signal to the brain.  All while bypassing the ear and ear canal!  We heard from Tory Burns, an audiologist with Oticon and fellow ponto user.  He shared with us his personal experience as well as the new very much improved MIPS surgery for the placement of Brody's abutment (titanium post placed in skull that ponto attaches to).  This surgery is specific to Oticon devices allowing minimal scars, no sutures, shorter healing times, and less complications than the previous techniques for placing the abutments.  We learned about the immense community of support and advocacy thru Melissa Tumblin, mother to Ally, also a ponto user.  Melissa is the founder of earcommunity.org,  a website loaded with information and resources related to microtia and atresia.  They assist with educating, creating awareness, providing picnics where families can gather, helping those in need receive a donated device, scholarships, and so much more!  Melissa also made a huge announcement related to advocacy for microtia.....stay tuned because I will be writing a specific post on this.  Next we heard from Angela and Sarah Sabal.  Sarah is a sixteen year old beautiful young lady with bilateral microtia, ear reconstruction, and ponto user.  I cannot tell her story because it is hers to tell but I will say that she left this Momma feeling oh so hopeful for Brody's future.  She was a picture of grace, courage, and perseverance.  Her mother, Angela, directs several facebook groups related to microtia inlcuding a kids' club.  Camilla Gilbert is a beautiful young woman who shared her lifetime journey to hearing.  She shared the struggles and the triumphs.  I mention each of these by name because they were so special to us.  Up until this point, we had little contact with people who were walking a similar road as Brody's....the journey to hear and all that entails.  By the end of the morning, I felt overwhelmed by the support and resources available but also felt almost neglectful that I had not reached out to these sooner.  I was really beating myself up.  As I've had a bit of time to reflect, I think we were so busy upon Brody's arrival home with adjusting, providing for our children's needs, and visiting so many medical appointments, it all just seemed too much.  Thankfully we met each of these new friends at just the right time and before any major decisions for Brody's health have been made.  God's timing is perfect.  

Believe it or not....that was just our morning!  It was time for lunch and when we were reunited with Brody, it appeared he was doing just fine.  Actually, he was great!  He informed us he was eating at the kids' table.

If you are still reading....well, bless you! Here's where it gets good. :) At this point in the day we were not only overwhelmed with information but with the genuine goodness of the Oticon staff. Oticon's founding principle is "People first."  They do not just speak this but live it.  Many of the staff traveled across the country (or around the world!....two from Denmark!) to be with us for the weekend.  They took time away from their families, gave up their weekend off and instead listened to us.  I have worked in healthcare for almost twenty years and this is the best example of making the client priority that I have EVER witnessed.  The staff traveled with us, ate meals with us, taught us, listened to our stories, laughed and cried with us, and genuinely cared!  In all honesty, we did not pick Oticon when choosing Brody's bone assisted hearing device.  Instead that is what was provided to us, the only option that was paid for by our services.  BUT OH MY how that was God providing again when we did not even realize it!!!  What a blessing that we received Oticon products for Brody.  Not only did God provide him the best hearing for now but the most amazing staff to support and encourage us!  We continue to stand amazed at God's provision in our lives.

Our afternoon was filled with information related to insurance/reimbursement, methods of advocating, and brainstorming.  The ponto users and families shared takeaways from the day, suggestions for Oticon, and ideas for the future.  No big deal, right?  Here's the difference, Oticon staff listened.  We spoke, shared, and wrote down our ideas.  I heard the Vice President say, "If two people write it down, we really need to consider it."  Wow.  So many could model themselves after Oticon's customer service!  Our conference day ended with workshops and I played on Canva to create an image that promotes Brody's product.  It helps that he has a great smile. 

Well our day was not over yet!  Together we traveled into the city where we boarded the Spirit of New Jersey for a dinner cruise on the Hudson River.  We enjoyed beautiful views of the New York city skyline, including the Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and Statue of Liberty.  What a treat!!!

After enjoying the beautiful sights, our day ended with dessert and a dance party inside the boat. Brody took the lead when he grabbed Ally for a slow dance.  He even kissed her hand when the dance was over! Then the music picked up and so did the dance moves!  

The kids, big and small,  had a great time taking over the dance floor.  And yes, we were definitely surprised by Brody's dance moves!  It was a fantastic ending to a jam-packed, overwhelmingly good day.  

Thank you, Oticon.  Sound does matter.  Our son is proof of that. 


  1. Awe, love this post Dayna! - Melissa (and Ally) :-) x

  2. Beautiful post and our family is so happy for your son and the great time he had.