The Big Decision. Part 2.

(Part 1 can be viewed by clicking here)

When I went into my first ENT’s office in October of 2007, my mission was clear in my head. I couldn’t hear my fifteen month old son’s laughter anymore, and I couldn’t hear my newborn daughter cry. I wanted hearing aids.

I had been told some years before that hearing aids would likely never help me. But let me tell you now, that when you’ve gone from about a thirty percent hearing loss to about seventy percent? Most anything is going to help at that point.

Here’s a not-so-funny story. When I went into the ENT’s office, the first thing they wanted to do was to try and figure out the reason for my hearing loss. I know my loss is hereditary, and I know my dad had been seeing doctors for decades relating to his own hearing loss, with no cures to be found, so I was mostly just humoring the ENT. The ENT ordered an MRI and bloodwork to be done, hoping for some sign or clue as a way to fix my issue medically. Because my daughter was only two weeks old at this point, I had been told to wait another week or so before having my blood drawn for the bloodwork, but was informed that the MRI was safe to do immediately.

So my mom and I head to the lab a few days later, intent on having my MRI done. We sat in the waiting room for a while, and when my name was called, I passed my two week old daughter to my mom and promptly headed to a small dressing room. An MRI is done by using a magnetic field, so I was told to take everything off that had any sort of metal on it, and given a hospital gown. Earring, rings, headbands, or any type of metal is strictly forbidden when having this test done. And after removing all my metal pieces, and dressing as they had indicated, the nurse comes back to my dressing room and escorts me to the MRI room. I was stuck inside the little capsule-like area for about an hour, trying not to hyperventilate from claustrophobia, and before I knew it, the test was over. I re-dressed and immediately was able to return to the waiting room and hold my daughter again.

And here’s the kicker. The nurse followed me back to the waiting room, and spoke with my mom and I for a few moments after the test. She informed us that they’d send the results to my ENT and that it would be ok for me to resume nursing after forty-eight hours.

I said, “Uhh, what’s that?!”

Yeah. No nursing after an MRI for 48 straight hours. It must have been one teeny tiny detail that my doctor apparently forgot to inform me of, which is weird considering that I had my two week old with me when I went to the ENT’s office. I was one very unhappy mother! Fortunately for me, I had plenty breastmilk stored already. Unfortunate for my daughter because she’d rather have starved herself than drink from a bottle. I am happy to report that she’s reached a strapping three and a half years of age, and has nearly healed from this very traumatic experience (although I still blame this incident as the reason for her fear of abandonment if I am more than ten feet away from her).

Back to the bigger picture.

Even after the bloodwork, and in addition to the MRI, the ENT could find no reason as to why my hearing loss was progressive. We knew what caused the hearing loss, and that it’s a sensorineural hearing loss, dealing with the nerves within the ear and their lack of performance so to speak, but we’ve never figured out why those nerves stop working. It’s obviously a gene passed from parent to child, sometimes genes that manifest later in life, in our teens, while other times those genes lay dormant and never cause hearing loss at all. Even if I did submit myself to be tested genetically, there’s never a guarantee that anything can be fixed. We’d learn the name of the gene maybe, but we wouldn’t have a way to medically fix it yet.

My ENT’s office told me that my best option would be a cochlear implant, and strongly recommended that I consider it.

But I was adamant.

I didn’t want one.

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