Monday, 21 September 2009

A sound investment ...BAHA

I made a decision a few months ago about a BAHA . For those of you who don’t know what it is - a bone anchored hearing aid. The surgery is tomorrow 8am.

I have had moderate to severe hearing loss in my left ear for about 20 years. I am not sure exactly why. A hearing aid doesn't , well didn't, help much.

The hearing in my right ear is not as bad but still a moderate loss and with a hearing aid I get by. I have had a lot of surgery on this 'ear' and there isn't much more they can do. A reconstruction could be risky , quite dangerous and involved . Though still unsuccessful.

I also get lots of ear infections and that is my main reason for getting a BAHA . Wearing an in the ear aid means the infections don't go away ... it is always warm and moist . A breeding ground for infection. There is a risk of meningitis or worst that close to the brain I was told.

I am also getting the BAHA to improve my 'life'.

I just don't hear well , even with a new hearing aid one seemingly 'good' ear, it does not provide adequate hearing.

Trying to find a misplaced mobile phone when it rings is impossible. The sound comes from every direction!

Trying to locate my mischievous monkeys at the best of times, least of all when accidents happen and/or high pitched screams emit ...from every direction.It's is so scary.

In a crowded room voices are blurred and words become indecipherable. Everything is indistinct and it's annoying.

I can’t hear the wait staff nor the people I am having dinner with when we go out. I can hear reasonable well at home but I still stuff up and miss things. I mishear things.It causes tension.

The TV and radio up loud annoys everyone else, and me, when they always turn it down or I am screaming over the top of the din "to be quiet", so I can hear my show.

I imagine my family and friends are tired of me saying, “ What? I can’t hear you.”
"Please talk louder "
" Pardon "
" What did you say ...repeat it again"
"I missed that ...what was the punch line" ... I didn't get the joke. I don't laugh when I should be.

I am tired of people (shop assistants) looking at me as if I am stupid when I ask them to repat something simple because they mumble especially... "cash out ?"

I am tired of saying, “What? I can’t hear you.”
I am tired of saying stupid things when I don't hear the right words's not only embarassing it is socially isolating.
I am tired of people saying I talk too loud ... Really ! I can't help it.
I hate people saying don't worry ...or I'll tell you later .

So, finally, I am having a surgery called BAHA. Bone anchored hearing aid.
Yes, it sounds daunting , scary even , but it really isn’t dangerous (that's my mantra isn't dangerous).
Maybe my family were certain I had a hole in my head or had a screw loose before, but with this procedure I really will have one...though I hope it isn't loose!

Stage 1. A hole will be drilled into the bone area behind my right ear (one with the best hearing) for placement of a titanium implant (screw abutment) , which in time fuses with the bone and transmits sound vibrations within the skull and inner ear. Skin/flesh and hair follicles will be cut away.

Later, this screw abutment will stimulate the nerve fibers of the inner ear and ultimately allow a sensation of hearing from my right ear.

Recovery from stage 1 takes about three months. The wound must be kept scrupulously clean as danger of infection is great. Still I want the procedure ...I think!

Stage 2 Three months after surgery when the surgeon is sure the implant has fused to the bone, the next step will be fitting the sound processor. I will be eagerly counting the days to Christmas BAHA day.

This will make the whole procedure worthwhile. A small , thin box about the size of a postage stamp attaches to the implant (the 'screw'). As you would expect from what the name says, the processor processes the sound to my ear. Nature should take care of the rest.

The processor will sit slightly under my hair and should be barely noticeable. Not that I care about this !

I know my brief description is not as technical as the process really will be, but maybe it gives you an idea what it is about. I have confidence in my DR and I am looking forward to the procedure though I am admittedly very nervous.

The surgery and the BAHA is ridiculously expensive a sound investment and even with private health insurance the Surgeon and Anaesthetist are going to have a good Christmas I'll be out of pocket a few thousand dollars.

I am also not sure how much of my hair they will shave off ... though having a bit of a skinhead for a few weeks should be worth it.*sigh*

It will be the questions (I won't hear ...initially because I still have to wait 3 months for the processor ) and explaining it dozens of times over until it heals that bothers me a bit. I will still wear my normal hearing aid till I get the BAHA processor.

I will hopefully educate a few people in the process.

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