Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Johnny Five's pet mouse.

This is it folks. This is the Advanced Bionics HiRes 90k Cochlear Implant in all its glory. One of THOSE is going in my head! It looks like Johnny Five's pet mouse. It is a super tiny computer, a magnet, and tiny wires with 16 electrodes at the end of it that will be inserted in my ear. The complexity behind this little doo-dad is mind boggling...

From what I understand, after they knock me out with the happy juice, they are going to make an incision behind the ear to make a little well in my skull for the magnet to sit so it does not float all over my head. The magnet is that little silver watch battery looking object surrounded by clear plastic. Then they proceed to drill a hole through the mastoid bone to insert the tail that follows the natural contour of the cochlea. The best way I can describe the cochlea is a snail shell. The next step would be for the audiologist to fire up the implant to make sure that it is working. Then pending the results of that, the incision is stitched up and my head is wrapped in a pressure bandage. Not sure what that is, but it sounds sadistic. At some point, they will wake me up, and stuff some Jell-O down my throat and then ship me home with a designated driver the same day. Sounds like a walk in the park...

Monday, July 30, 2007

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I am hoping to write this under a thousand words.

Ladies and gentleman, this is an Audiogram or a hearing test. On the top, you will see Frequency in Cycles per Second (HZ), and on the left side you will see Hearing Level in Decibels (db). What the heck does that mean?! I'm going to tell you without boring you.

Hertz or HZ represents the different pitches of sound. The lower the number, the more bass the sound has. The higher the number, the more treble the sound has. Decibels or db is the volume which the lower the number, the softer the sound, the higher the number, the louder the sound. The picture shows different sounds and where they fall on this graph. You can see that human speech is in the range of 50db and above.

The GREEN line represents normal hearing. Anything below that green line a person with normal hearing can hear.

The BLUE line represents my right ear. The only sounds I can hear are below that line. With a hearing aid, I can get up to 50db but with very little speech discrimination.

The RED line represents my left ear and anything below that I can hear, somewhat. You see that red line goes flat at about 1050Hz and up which means I did not hear anything at volume of 120db which from what I am told is mighty loud.

The rest of this entry is more technical and probably will bore some of you but my fellow geeks will find it interesting to say the least. I want to be able to refer back to it monitor any changes when I get the implant.

Pure tone measures without hearing aids for my left ear are:
95db at 250Hz
105db at 500Hz
110db at 1000Hz
115db at 1050Hz
No response at 2000Hz and up.

Right ear:
90 db at 250Hz
95db at 500Hz
100db at 1000Hz and 2000Hz
95db at 3000Hz
100db at 4000Hz
95db at 6000Hz
90db at 8000Hz

Speech discrimination with a hearing aid for my left ear was 0% in quiet, and +10 noise and +5 noise
For my right ear with my trusty hearing aid in was:
Sentences in quiet was 30%
Words 6%
Phonemes are 30%.

With hearing aids in both ears ranged from 35-42%

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Newbie here.

Let me make a long story, short but sweet.

Let’s take it back to 1983 when I was discovered I had moderate severe bilateral hearing loss which graduated to severe/profound. I was fitted with hearing aids in both ears. I have done very well since I was mainstreamed orally. When I hit about 11-12, I stopped wearing a hearing aid in my left ear as my hearing loss progressed to profoundly deaf. It started as a Darth Vader voice and then just went down hill from there. I still wear a hearing aid in my right. I never had the chance to befriend someone else that had a hearing problem. I was surrounded by hearing people all my life. I felt embarrassed that I had a hearing problem. I would never talk about it. I tried to hide it at all cost, as if I had leprosy.

A couple of years ago,I started having these episodes of sound appeared to be muffled. I felt like that I had water in my ears. I had numerous tests done revealing no water at all, or nothing wrong at all. Since I felt fine the next morning, I felt it was no big deal. As time went on, the recovery time ranged from overnight to a week and as long as a month. Looking back I see a pattern that I started losing my speech discrimination. I was to the point where I was afraid that one of these episodes it won't clear up.

Lets fast forward to the present, for some strange reason, I thought that my problem with my ears might have been with a deviated septum that I had. I put the surgery off for years until this past February. I had the nose job done. When I woke up in recovery, I was completely deaf. Absolutely nothing, just vibrations of my own hanging ball thing in the back of my throat. I will not lie; I was scared speechless which doesn't happen often. I was told that it was my Eustachian tubes were swollen from the surgery. Maybe that was the case because my hearing did eventually come back to the point where I can hear some environmental sounds with my hearing aid, a month and a half later. In exchange for me breathing and sleeping better, I lose hearing.

Remember I was saying that it was no big deal, no big deal became a very big deal after I found out my hearing in my right dropped an additional 10db. I have officially been classified as profoundly deaf in my right ear. The idea of becoming totally deaf dawned on me at that moment. Never once in my twenty-seven years walking on this earth did I ever cope with the idea of going deaf as a doorknob. Whew, talk about being oblivious to the obvious because it was present day reality. Proof positive was that I now can no longer talk on the phone which I have done quite well for the past 15 years.

After the initial mourning, I started researching the hell out of alternatives. My alternative is a cochlear implant. After I spent every resting moment I had online, researching forums, websites, blogs, and white papers, I decided to go ahead and get evaluated. After the hearing test, the CAT scan, the MRI, a more intense hearing test, balance test, water in my ears and a couple meetings with the surgeon, I am a candidate :) I have decided to get my left ear implanted since I have no hearing in it. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain if I get something back. It would be nice if it did more then just hold my glasses up. I decided to go with Advanced Bionics and the Harmony 120 processor. My surgery date is set for August 27th!!

I feel as if I have done a complete 180. I do not have the same outlook on being deaf as I use to. I do not feel as I suffer from leprosy. I have become very open about it and even adapted a sense of humor about it. The point of why I started this blog is that I want to share my experiences hoping that it will help someone else down the line.

So I lied, it wasn’t so short but border lining sweet.