Meet Joe Campbell (if you haven’t already done so)…
Joe is our eldest child; our first-born son.
The reason we don’t talk about Joe in our blog (much to his annoyance) is that Joe has perfect (albeit selective) hearing. When Joe was born to the world I’m not entirely sure I had ever (knowingly) even met a deaf person. I’d certainly never considered that he would end up being the ‘odd-one-out’ amongst my children.
Joe, like all my children, is a star. He is bright, charming, witty, funny, polite and handsome. Everything you could want in a son. I am so very proud of him. Joe likes rock music, playing the drums and rugby. From his early days where Joe was capable of tripping over his own feet and, after four years of hard work, Joe is blossoming into quite the little rugby player; sticking his head where others fear to go and tackling anything that moves.
Why am I mentioning this I hear you ask? Well Joe is nearly nine years old and, in England at least, this means he has started playing full-contact rugby. If his rugby future is anything like my rugby career, this mean endless trips to A&E and a list of broken bones I’m not proud of.
I am a huge rugby fan. I have dragged my children around the country and have force-fed them rugby from when they were only weeks old. Joe, Alice and Ollie are familiar faces at Harlequins and, whether it’s because of the sweets or just the chance to spend some time with Daddy, they never turn down the opportunity to come along. When Joe was born, there was no doubt in my mind that he would be a future England Captain (along with all my other friends’ sons) and when Ollie arrived, he was earmarked to take over when Joseph retired….
And herein lies the problem. Ollie is deaf and bescause of the decisions we have taken, Ollie has electronics in his head. Whilst the decision will ultimately be ours in terms of the risk of Ollie playing rugby, his future, in this respect, looks (at the very least) complicated if not entirely clear-cut. various bodies (the BCIG and NDCS) have provided some guidance:
But at the end of the day, I may have to put these dreams on hold….
This is the first time I can see we will have had to make a negative choice for Ollie’s future that is based on our decision to give him CIs….and I find that so hard to swallow. I know that various of Alice and Ollie’s CI team cringe when they hear what we let them get up to…boogie boarding with processors on, swimming in the sea and largely living their lives to the full; as we had always said, we didn’t want their deafness to define them or the decision to implant them to negatively change their lives….
I have no regrets at the decision. On balance, it’s a small sacrifice for the freedom we have given him. Ollie’s speech is coming on daily and he really is flying; the future looks very bright, but what will he do at school when others are playing rugby? what will he do when his big brother heads off on another rugby tour…?
I’d love to hear from someone who has made it work.