Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
Back to my hearing loss history. Sometime in the Spring of 2008 I experienced a sudden drop in the hearing in my left ear, the one that I had moderate loss in since the early 2000’s. What’s interesting, though, is that I didn’t realize it had happened. I thought my ear was stopped up. I kept thinking how it seemed like I was talking with my head in a fish bowl with my own voice echoing in my head. I’m not sure, but I think it was at least a week before I made an appointment with my ENT doctor to have my ear checked. I do remember, though, that I was not thinking that what I was experiencing was due to having more hearing loss.
My ENT doctor had me do a hearing test with the audiologist. I remember thinking that something must be wrong with the machine because I wasn’t hearing the beeps like I should. The test results showed that my left ear had a substantial drop in hearing, ending up in the “severe” range. I was shocked! As I look back now, I wonder if my hearing had gradually been declining throughout the years. I’ll never know for sure.
My ENT advised me that I should start treatment with high dose oral steroids that would last for several weeks in an attempt to halt the process that was going in inside my ear that caused the sudden hearing loss, and possibly reverse it and that we would check my hearing again when I finished the steroids. My experience with taking high dose oral steroids goes something like this:
- I quickly had trouble falling asleep and if I woke up, I was up the rest of the night. I don’t remember feeling all that tired, though, given the fact that on average I had 4-5 hours of sleep during that time. I used the time productively (mostly).
- I experienced some of the worst heartburn known to mankind! It started within the first week of taking the steroids and didn’t end until nearly a week after I stopped taking them. I ended up taking antacids and medications to reduce the acid production in my stomach.
- I had bouts of sudden starvation. I HAD to have something to eat! You are supposed to take the steroids with food as well. It’s no wonder why people talk about gaining weight from steroid use.
So after about 3-4 weeks, when I finished the steroids, I went for my follow up appointment and there was no change in my hearing at all. My audiologist, Lisa, and I talked about different options to help me hear. One definite challenge I had was that I was nearly deaf on one side of my head. I couldn’t tell where sounds and voices were coming from – I was hearing in “mono”. This was a significant challenge for work because I spent most of my time advising and consulting – talking and listening. She suggested a bi-cross hearing aid system by Phonak, specifically the Phonak Eleva 211 daz with the CRX boot.
The bi-cross system picks up sounds from the bad ear side of your head and wirelessly sends them to the good ear. You wear bilateral devices, however, the device in the bad ear is only a transmitter, not a hearing aid. I remember being told that a hearing aid in my left ear would not help my situation (more on that later) so I opted to use the bi-cross system.
Through a work relationship, I knew about Epic Hearing Healthcare, a hearing benefit program that I could utilize to help reduce the cost of my bi-cross system (hearing aids are seldom covered by traditional medical insurance). Mike Reha, the Director of Sales and Marketing at EHH had educated me prior about the merits of his organization and I was a fan, not knowing that I would need to be a customer at some point in my life. I would highly recommend checking this organizing out and encouraging your employer to consider adding this benefit.
I diligently used the bi-cross system for a year or so. I personally found that if I made sure I sat with my “good ear” facing people I was talking with, I had nearly as good an experience so I eventually stopped using it. My experience may not be like anyone else’s, though. I’d still encourage everyone to explore a cross option for single sided deafness.
In Part 3 I’ll be jumping to 2013 and the start of my wild ride!