I had a series of 3 intratympanic steroid injections in my right ear, each about a week apart. The numbing agent used for my eardrum keeps it numb for a number of weeks, thank goodness! I hope I never have the pleasure of experiencing that sensation again – ever. The routine for the next 2 injections was the same – lay on my left side with my right ear facing up, don’t swallow, yawn or pop my ears for 30 minutes and spit into tissues. The sensation of the steroid medication being injected caused me to be dizzy with each injection, but it had passed by the end of the 30 minutes. I also had an earache following each injection that went away by the next morning.
My 3rd injection was on June 12, 2013. In my journal I wrote:
Treatment #3 today. I do think some things are louder and will find out for sure when my hearing is checked.
Unfortunately, my ENT told me that he wanted to wait 2 weeks to retest my hearing. I was trying to be patient, but knew that I wouldn’t be able to make a permanent hearing aid decision until that test was completed.
Other journal entries during the following 2 weeks had comments about noises being louder and needing to adjust my hearing aid to a lower volume setting. Sweet!!
June 26, 2013 was my next appointment. My ENT reported that my eardrum was healed from the injections and I would no longer need to wear a earplug in the shower – that was a huge relief! My hearing test showed improvements in the ranges where normal speech is heard – excellent news!! My ENT advised that I could opt for additional steroid injections but he didn’t think I’d experience any additional improvement with them. He was OK with me sitting for an evaluation by the audiologist for a permanent hearing aid, but he told me that I should get one that was programmable to be stronger later because there was no way to know that my hearing wouldn’t continue to decline over time. I was still sitting on “cloud 9” from my improved hearing test, so that comment hit me hard! He was very kind and compassionate in the way he worded that message to me and we both had a few tears in our eyes but both agreed that neither of us had a crystal ball to see into the future and as for today we would celebrate the improvement and move forward with plans for a permanent hearing aid.
As readers of my blog might guess, I had done quite a bit of research about the hearing aid market. One of my primary concerns was being able to communicate by telephone for work. Most hearing aids are capable of transmitting sound from a telephone call directly into your ears via Bluetooth. The technology is truly amazing. What I didn’t like about most products on the market, though, was that they required a device be worn around your neck to process the Bluetooth transmission. In my searching, I found one produce that had a “wireless” solution for telephone communication – no neck loop. I was sold!
When I left the ENT exam room and moved to another part of the office where the audiologists were, I had my folder of research with me. The audiologist and I had a very lengthy discussion about options and I was very disappointed to find out that the office only works with 2 hearing aid manufacturers and neither was the one I wanted. She told me that these 2 manufacturers had excellent products that worked well for their clients. They both used neck loops for Bluetooth telephone transmission, though. I was told very definitively that if I only wanted the hearing aid brand that I had researched, I would have to find an audiologist on my own to obtain it from – how crazy is that? Limited choices may make sense from business model perspective, but is not patient friendly or putting your patients first.
I spent the next several days making calls to to try to find a local audiologist who would work with me. This was the second time on my journey that I had to be my own advocate, and in this case, the health care system absolutely failed me!
You won’t be surprised to learn that I was successful in finding an independent audiologist and I’ll pick up my story there in the next post.