July 18, 2013 was the day my new hearing aid for my right ear would be in. I had received 2 intratympanic steroid injections (of the second round due to my hearing declining again). When I arrived for my appointment I took in a copy of my most recent hearing test from July 8th and my audiologist took one look at it and told me that we would need to send my new hearing aid back. The processor was not going to be strong enough due to the additional loss I’d had. I was crushed! Not because of the additional loss, but because I wanted to find out just how much different it would be with a hearing aid that had been programmed for me. My only experience was with the loaner hearing aid I was wearing and, to me, it seemed to have minimal programming when it was given to me. It helped, but I was certain that the new one would be much better.
On a positive note (and thankfully there have been some), the hearing aids for both ears would likely arrive at the same time.
The following week, I had the third steroid injection and would again wait for about 2 weeks for a follow-up hearing test.
My new hearing aids arrived together, as expected, along with the accessory I had also ordered to allow me to talk on the phone without a “neck loop”. That day was a great day. We did the initial programming and set up and for the first time since 2008, I was hearing in stereo! Even though the noises and sounds were not as full and rich as they were prior to my hearing loss, they were balanced around my head and I could tell where they were coming from (a long as it wasn’t behind me). I’d have follow-up appointments every couple of weeks for a while to do additional programming, set up programs to help me hear better in certain situations, like when I am on the phone or when I am in a noisy area. One of the most fascinating things about hearing aids is that you can program them to block out some frequencies to help you focus on certain frequencies. This is exactly how my program for talking on the phone works. The frequencies in which most voices communicate were the ones focused on in my phone program.
My life had been greatly enhanced!
At my follow up appointment, my hearing test showed no improvement from the second round of steroid injections. I knew that already. I’ve often wondered if the outcome would have been different if we had extended the first round of injections. Would it have prevented the decline I’d experienced? Would it have improved my hearing even more than I initially experienced? Of course we’ll never know. I know that research into this treatment is continuing today and the protocol we followed is considered standard, however, oral steroids were also considered standard until intratympanic injections came along. The possibility of not just halting the process that causes sudden hearing loss, but reversing it through this type of early intervention is wonderful to think about. One of the greatest obstacles, unfortunately is that the condition usually isn’t recognized soon enough when the earliest treatment could be the most effective. I experienced proof that it can work, at least for a short period of time and I’d advise people to strongly consider it if they find themselves in a similar situation one day.