Posts Tagged ‘Ear Nose Throat’

The Big Decision Part 3

(Read Part 1 or Part 2)

There are several reasons I initially didn’t want to consider a cochlear implant (CI). I will admit that most of my issues with CI were based on facts from a decade before. But beyond that, the first and foremost reason that I didn’t want a CI was that everything that I had read told me that any hearing I had left in my ear would be destroyed upon having surgery for a CI.

When CI was recommended that day by my ENT, my thoughts were I’m only 27. To me, that’s pretty young. What if five years from now, doctors can do some sort of surgery or procedure that doesn’t kill any hearing I have left? I mean, if they destroy my hearing with a CI and it doesn’t work or I don’t like it, there’s absolutely no going back. Do I want that?

And I didn’t want that. Who would?

The other reason I didn’t want CI stemmed from the fact that I knew someone who had a CI. And from what I could tell, that person communicated about as well as I could if I had just got some hearing aids at that time. Granted, the person I knew who had a CI had the surgery done a decade before I sat in my ENT’s office that day.

Raise you’re hand if you know that technology advances nearly as fast as we breathe?!

Raise your hand if you realize that a CI is a piece of technology?!

Let’s just say both of my hands were in my lap the day I was first recommended to get CI, because I was completely oblivious to all that. And honestly? I’m very glad I chose that day to adamantly tell them no. I’d never worn any type of hearing aid in my 27 years, and I see now that it was a big step for me. The type of hearing aid I would have to wear was over the ear and a hey-look-at-me-and-my-huge-hearing-aid-so-obviously-I-can’t-hear-very-well type of thing. To someone who has worn hearing aids for years, it’s no big deal. It’s like wearing your glasses to the store on a day you don’t feel like sticking in contacts. But for me it was like wearing glasses for the very first time in public. It was a big deal.

The ENT and Audiologist I saw that day (who are not the same ones I now see for my CI) clearly thought I was a little mental in wanting only hearing aids, but I was ok with that.

I was eventually sent by DARS to an Audiologist on my side of town to be fitted for hearing aids the following summer, in 2008.

I distinctly remember walking out of the Audiologist office the day I got my first set of hearing aids. The freeway ran right in front of the office, and it was amazing to me to be able to hear cars driving by. I would later drive to a local store and jump back about three feet when I was assaulted with the noise of the doors sliding open. It was overwhelming to me.

Hearing aids helped me much more than I had expected. They really did. Looking back, I realize how much my life would have changed for the better if I’d got them after that first hearing test as an adult. Sure, they didn’t bring back every bit of hearing, but the fact that they helped at all meant that my life was better because of it. You can bet that I had a very big moment when I realized I should have said years prior to that, Who cares if anybody knows I can’t hear? I don’t! I need help, and these hearing aids will help! But me, being me, cared too much what people thought.

Let that be a lesson for you. Sometimes when we care too much about what other people think, we miss out on a better life than we could have if we just didn’t let it bother us. Something I still need to hear. Even today.

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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.