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Friday, July 31, 2009

Aids and Implants

This is the start of my newest adventure. Today I went to
the university Speech and Hearing clinic for hearing aid
evaluation and Cochlear Implant mapping. It was a double
decker appointment. I wanted to get it all done at once.
It certainly turned out to be a productive morning.
I haven't had a real audiological evaluation in 20 years.
Back then, we decided that hearing aids weren't working
for me. I ended up getting a Cochlear Implant in my right
ear. My left ear has been free and quiet ever since. I
can hear the loudest of noises with it, but that's about
all. For the past two decades, any time I've been to the
audiologist, it's been for CI related care and nothing else.
I've been told that hearing aid technology has greatly
improved in recent years. Many people do quite well with
powerful digital hearing aids. It seemed like a good idea
that I should try again. Besides, to become a candidate for
a second CI, I first need to exhaust all non-surgical
options.
I haven't done this in a long time. Some things have
changed. Some have not. It was an interesting experience
to work on that long forgotten left ear of mine.
The verdict isn't in yet but we are pretty sure what it's
going to say. A hearing aid is not going to help me.
Apparently, my ear is working fine and reacts to sounds.
but for some reason, the sound doesn't reach my brain. it's
a problem with the pathway to the brain. That's called
neuropathy. It doesn't matter how loud they amplify sound.
I won't hear most of it and I certainly won't understand
speech.
It's failure but not necessarily bad news. I expected no
less. Failing with a hearing aid is the first step in being
able to get a second CI. So I consider this something
positive.
Still, we are dealing with surgery and Medicare. We have
to be absolutely sure I won't benefit from a hearing aid.
For that reason, I had a mold made today and I will be
getting a hearing aid in a week or so. Thankfully, I can
borrow it from the clinic. I don't have to pay for it
unless I decide it works and want to keep it. Nobody thinks
it will actually work, though.
Next, I went to my CI audiologist for re-mapping. That
involves checking the CI equipment and evaluation my map.
The map is a program that controls what and how I hear with
the CI. The map can be changed and adjusted as needed.
Most people go in for re-mapping at least once a year.
Because the hearing evaluation took so long, I was running
late for the CI appointment. My audiologist made a few
adjustments with my map and then her computer pretty much
died. She fought with it for awhile but couldn't get it to
behave. Since I'll soon be back at the clinic to pick up
the hearing aid, we decided to postpone mapping for another
day. Hopefully the computer will be back on track by then.
So, that's it. I'm a failure with hearing but happy about
it. How strange life can be sometimes. I truly feel that
a second CI is my best chance for understanding speech
again. I've waited quite a long time to pursue this goal.
I'm so pleased to finally be moving forward with it. If I'm
lucky, I could be "bilateral" by the end of the year. I
think this is the start of something really good.

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