Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life with hearing loss

Hearing loss, part of life for me.  

I have always needed a hearing aid for my right ear, never really wore one until recently.  In December of 2008 I had a continuous ring/static noise with varied noise levels of my left ear (the good one!) start.  When I couldn't hear the pastor at church talk with the aid of a microphone, I decided it was time to figure out what was happening. And I also was declining to attend group events or chose not to participate in group events due to the effort it took to listen.  After a few 'lets try this' approaches, an ENT doctor in Fargo decided to have a CAT scan of my head.  The scan looked as if nothing wrong but Dr. P asked another ENT doctor at the University of Minnesota to check it out and there the ball really started to roll.  I am very thankful to get into Dr. L since he is not taking patient, how blessed I am.  March of 2011 I visited the U to see if Dr. L could tell me what's going on.  And he did, I have a genetic bone disease called Otosclerosis, this happens to most women of childbearing age and it's calcification of the middle ear. One only really knows if they have Otosclerosis for sure is by surgery but the CAT scan can show too.  At the University, they have the technology to change the colors of the CAT scan, in which Dr. L did and it showed white around my ear bones, new bone growth.  Then we discussed options, surgery or no surgery.  Well not exactly, there are a few options such as a diet of eating low, low sodium which is almost impossible or trying a hearing aid. I did actually try a hearing aid, but chose not to keep it. Reverse hearing loss is tricky to fix with an aid device.  I mulled over this surgery option for about 6 months and decided I was going to have surgery, then it took me one month to actually get to in.  This Dr. L is great, an ear surgeon and reminds me of my piano teachers dad. Full of pep and energetic, willing, appreciative, encouraging.  

How was surgery, (it happened Oct. 17th)?  It went very well, as expected and it took all of 1 hr and 45 minutes.  I now have platinum & titanium stapes prosthetic bone. I say, 'to bad that metal isn't on my finger in the form of a ring and a little jewel or two for sparkle' but I can't have everything I want, right? My middle ear  was fused together, causing me to loose the ability to hear the low tones. The stapes bone was removed and replaced in order to have it work again, the other two bones of the middle ear were shaved of the new bone growth to have them be more 'normal' as well.  The recovery time to wake up from surgery was very long for me. I spent a good deal in stage 1 and stage 2 recovery. If anyone has been under general anesthesia, you know.  Husband was great, to sit and wait a long, long time (9:30a - 4:00p) for me and then drive me home.  He was my responsible adult for 24 hrs. :)  I also had little to no pain, the discomfort I did had left about 8pm that night. 

I just had my follow up appointment with Dr. L on the 11th  of Nov. and the outside healing is good.  I even got to see my ear canal and the surgery cut on camera!  I also have a good 6 months to see full recovery, I went in thinking it would be a couple of months. I had to have a skin graph along with the prosthetic and the skin graph has to 'thin'.  But I have hope, I can hear Dr. L tuning fork!  I don't seem/think I hear much of anything from my left ear, it sure makes life interesting.  Thank goodness for my hearing aid in the right ear.  I will have a audio gram in 8 weeks and then 6 months to see how I am progressing.  I am actually pretty excited to have to happen and see what's up!  

So, here's the last few years of life with hearing loss. The first 25 years were simple, hearing loss in the right side and my left ear compensated immensely for the right side.  Now, it's a little more complicated.  

Until Next time,   Lexie ><>   

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