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My name is Karen and I live in Western New York. I am 46, I have been married for 22 years and my husband and I have two sons, ages 21 and 18.
I have read many, if not all, of your stories over the past few months as I have been going through the evaluations and then the waiting to be approved for a cochlear implant. The approval came last week and my surgery will be July 22, 2011! I am both nervous and excited that this will help me. I am trying to have realistic expectations but it seems that many implantees hear better than I have in a long time.
I was diagnosed with Meniere's disease at the age of 14. I would have vertigo in spurts every few years and each time I would lose a little more hearing in my right ear. I got my first hearing aid when I was 30 and I found it to be very helpful. Shortly thereafter, the Meniere's went bilateral and within a short time I needed 2 hearing aids. My left ear had always been my better ear, but in 2008, I lost all hearing in that ear when I had surgery to control the vertigo. This was a major adjustment. Everything sounds very different with one bad ear even with a high-powered hearing aid. I found I missed so much, but still I learned to manage pretty well.
The past few months I have been experiencing distorted hearing. Voices sound robotic and most times there is this annoying static along with any sound or voice that I can compare to a radio station not being tuned in. This happened to me once before two years ago. I received steroid injections through my eardrum and it seemed to help. After 5 or 6 weeks, it went away. I did not regain the level of hearing I had but the clarity returned. This time the steroid injections did not seem to help. The distortion varies quite a bit day to day, and even throughout the day, but most times I cannot use the phone. Even when it is "not so bad," I still need closed captioning to watch TV and need to be close to someone to attempt a conversation. Because I have had 2 previous surgeries on my ear, my doctor first sent me for an MRI to see if scar tissue had grown that would rule out a cochlear implant. It had not and I was thrilled. I had all the other screenings and everyone has told me along the way that I would make a good candidate.
I am still hopeful that this distortion will clear up and with the implant I will hear in stereo again. I am nervous, of course, but am anxious to experience what a cochlear implant can do for me. My ultimate goal would be to get to a place where I am NOT constantly worrying about what I am hearing and what I am missing. I look forward first to the surgery, and then to my activation day. From what I have read here, this distorted hearing has prepared me well for the strange sounds that I may hear on activation day but, it will be so nice to know that my hearing will improve with time instead of the declining hearing I have dealt with for many years.
7/22/11 Implanted with Cochlear Nucleus 5
8/18/11 Initial activation