Stuart N - Cochlear Ambassador
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In 1989 I started having periodic severe (knee-walking, commode hugging) vertigo attacks. I was 47 years old at that time. On two occasions I went to the Emergency Room at the local teaching hospital. They did CAT scans looking for a brain tumor but, thankfully, they didn't find one. I was on vacation, and passing through Knoxville, TN and had to go to the ER there. The ER physician mentioned the possibility of Meniere's Disease and suggested I continue my trip and see an ENT when I returned home. I was seen at the ENT clinic and finally, after about 6 months, was diagnosed with Meniere's. In conjuction with the vertigo, I was having problems with my right ear. I was told that in 85% of the cases, Meniere's was unilateral. Unfortunately, I was in the other 15%. I began to also have problems in my left ear, although the hearing loss was more pronounced in the right ear. I started wearing two hearing aids in 1992 and by 1997 was completely deaf in the right ear. The loss in the left ear fluctuated. I could go severals months ,to a year or so, with decent (but not normal) hearing. However, I could wake up the next morning and be so impaired that I could hardly understand much of anything, especially on the telephone. My discrimination has been as low as 62%. This situation would last from a few months, to a year or more, and then suddenly change for the better overnight. I was told that if I ever went completely deaf in the left ear I would be a candidate for an implant. Several years ago, I asked about an implant in my right (completely deaf) ear and was told that was not a viable option at that time because there had been no stimulation for several years. A few weeks ago, my hearing, which had been reasonably good for 2 1/2 years, crashed again and the discrimnation was only14%. It had been so good that I very rarely wore the hearing aid during that time. It was not normal hearing, but I did OK as long as I could position myself correctly and have anyone talking to me on my left side. I was told yesterday that it was time to consider an implant in my RIGHT ear, the one that is completely gone. The surgery is scheduled for August 5 (it is now May 13). The August date was the first one available. I'm an impatient guy and it's going to be a frustrating period of time from now to August. I want it done now. I'm really motivated. I don't fear having the surgery, although I do have some aniexty about how successful it will be. I will be glad to hear from anyone, but especially from one who has had an implant in an ear that has had no stimulation for an extended period of time.
I have posted a video on Youtube in which I tell my story of how I went from normal hearing to becoming deaf in one ear and severely impaired in the other one and how my hearing was restored by a cochlear implant. The video can be found at this link:
UPDATE: I was implanted in my right ear on July 10, 2009, and activated on July 16. I imediately understood speech. Refer to blog for more info.
Further update October 21, 2010.
I've had the implant for 15 months and am very pleased with how well I can hear. The left ear is still up and down even when using a hearing aid. The implanted ear has become my dominant ear. My latest hearing test in September 2010 showed that I had 100% discrimination in quiet and 88% in noise. This was with the implanted ear only since the other ear was plugged so as not to receive any sound during the test. Having the surgery was one of the best decisions I've ever made.