Sunday, September 27, 2015

Can I Hear You Now?

The answer is: "No!"  But, that may change soon! In about 6 weeks, I may be able to hear a lot better out of one ear, and in another 3 months I might be able to go without my hearing aids!

On Thursday, my MIL and I went to Albuquerque to meet an ear surgeon. John stayed home with the sick boy. I have long suspected that I had a condition called, "otosclerosis". 

  1. a hereditary disorder causing progressive deafness due to overgrowth of bone in the inner ear.
My brother Stephen was diagnosed with it about 15 years ago after a concussion. (They were doing an MRI to determine if there was a traumatic brain injury).  He could have had surgery to correct it then, but he was a trumpet major in college and would not have been able to play for 9 months.

When I talked to a local ENT (ear, nose, throat doctor), he told me that I probably had otosclerosis based on Stephen's diagnosis, and the fact that both Daddy and Grandpa Long were completely deaf without assistance by age 40.  Dr. Hobbs told me he would refer to me to Albuquerque for the surgery when I was ready--it just was not cost-effective for him to invest in the equipment.

I thought the surgery was something to consider way down the road, when my hearing worsened.  I got my first hearing aid about 11 years ago, and my current ones about 7 years ago. My insurance doesn't cover hearing aids because I am over 19 years old.  This summer, I started researching the procedure: a stapedectomy. 

    stapedectomy is a surgical procedure of the middle ear performed to improve hearing. If the stapes footplate is fixed in position, rather than being normally mobile, then a conductive hearing loss results.  
As I read up on the procedure, I saw comments about this procedure being INSTEAD of hearing aids.   I decided to talk to my primary doctor about a referral.  He agreed that it would be a good move.

This is the picture Dr. Horn used to describe the procedure. The procedure will take about 90 minutes, and I will wake up with a band-aid over my ear.  The nerve that deals with taste buds will have to be moved out of the day, so there is a possibility that I may lose my sense of taste for a while.  I figure that could be a good thing. If chocolate doesn't taste good--maybe I won't want to eat it??!?!

Most of these surgeries are successful, but there is the 1% chance that I will become completely deaf in that ear.  That is why he will only operate on one ear at a time.  But most people notice immediate results.

I was very impressed with the doctor. He told me this is his "favorite" surgery to do.  "I did two today and one yesterday!".  His father, aunt, and grandmother all had the surgery.  In fact, it was this family history that lead him to becoming an ear surgeon.

My next step is to have an MRI (or is it a CT? I can't remember) to make sure that my ear is shaped the way it's supposed to be.  Then sometime in mid-November, I will go under the knife for the first time in my life. 

And hopefully when I wake up, and you say, "Can you hear me now?", I will answer with a resounding, "Yes! I can hear you know!"

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