Aug 11, 2010

What did you say?

So, if you know me you know that I'm nearly deaf in my left ear. That would be the primary reason that I always try to walk on your right side, and I might ask you to repeat things a few times. I had a slew of ear infections in my teens that did major damage on the inner workings of my ear. I'm supposed to have some bones in there, but they're long gone. I even went through a surgery to put prosthetics back in, but my body didn't care for that plan... and rejected them... and other crap is wrong in there as well that I don't want to bore you with. Anyways, all this has resulted in hearing loss around 75 - 80%.

Good news, my hearing nerves aren't damaged like we previously thought. I have the potential to hear, sound just isn't making it past all the scar tissue in my ear from past surgeries, and since the bones are missing the sounds isn't being transferred to the nerves.  I went in yesterday to discuss some options with my ENT, and long story short...I have four options, three of which could allow me to reach normal hearing level in my left ear.

1. Leave it alone, and continue to deal. (I like this option! I've been living an okay life up until this point. I kind of look at my hearing loss like someone might look at a scar on their face. Their quality of life is not really that terrible, but it bothers them even though others might not even notice it till you point it out.)

2. Get a hearing aid. The audiologist isn't thinking this will help too terribly much, since I have so much scar tissue in my ear it's blocking sound going through. Piping in louder sound will just mean louder muffly sounds being heard.

3. Cochlear a hole into the side of my head and screw in a state of the art hearing aid that accesses the inner nerves instead of just amplifying sound. It's about the size of a bite sized candy bar, and it would be there semi permanently. We did a test run of this, where we just held the box on the side of my head. It was the creepiest feeling I've ever felt. I could hear, but it felt like I had a bad TV reception inside my head. It wasn't natural sounding, and it made me feel dizzy and off balance. I can't really describe it. I didn't like it at all. Plus everything was on a strange delay. I would hear normal sounds in my right ear then hear weird, loud, robotish sounds through my left, on a delay. I'm not thinking I'm interested in this. I mean, I know it's an amazing breakthrough in science, but I don't think I'm hearing that poorly to justify it. I don't know.

4. Surgery to clean up the scar tissue and replace the bones...again... I've tried this before, and my body said hell to the no. The doctors believe they could scoop the scar tissue out, cut under my eardrum and try attaching a new prosthetic bone into my ear that might prove to be lasting. Though the technology has changed, this still makes me nervous. There is no guarantee how my body might react to another prosthetic being put in. I'm not sure how I really feel about going under for something they can't 100% guarantee will last. Realistically, I understand nothing is guaranteed to work, but it seems like I've have a pretty crappy run on this strategy up until this point.

Bah, I don't know. I have another evaluation next Tuesday. I'm getting a CT scan to see how much bone I have left in my ear, and having another pow wow with the doctors. I have the head of Barnes ear surgery, my ENT, and the head of the audiology department evaluating my situation. I was proded for 2 1/2 hours by them and a bunch of students and now I just feel ill. It makes me feel so sea sick when people mess with my ears. They get all excited about the strangeness that is my ear. I just get barfy from being poked.

I'm not making any decisions now, but it does give me something to think about. I could potential improve my quality of life. But I'm not sure the risks justify the benefits. We'll see.


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