November 7, 2006

No knitting content

I was trying to wait on my next post until my knitpicks yarn came in the mail, so that I could post pics of more progress on Cathode. It doesn't look like that's gonna happen though. Why? Because I have yet to receive the yarn. Normally, they are pretty quick, so I'll be forgiving for a little while.

So, instead of yarn I will discuss my big news!

Over the past month I have been the doctor's office over 5 times. I visit a specialist for my hearing known as an ENT, the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor is typically the doctor that little kids visit this for ear infections. I, however, am one of the lucky few who have a natural inclination for ear infections/problems without any actual reason, so I continue to have regular check ups every six months. I have had so many ear problems that I no longer feel pain in my ears until something is bleeding or ruptured. Nice, eh?

I have had ear infections since the age of two, when I went to see a general practioner or so my mother tells me. He proscribed tubes, which is a common occurrence in children. Tubes simply put are a small open ring inserted into the eardrum which allows air to travel between the outer ear and the middle ear. I will allow the professionals to explain how this treats ear infections.

I continued to have multiple ear infections; Turns out my tubes air and other foreign bodies to travel there as well. This lead to my first visit to the ENT to remove the tubes. During which the removal of tubes it was discovered that they were covered in fungus. YUCK! The ENT knew what to do and I recovered with no major issues.

I continued to see this ENT, who discovered a cyst in my middle ear. The middle ear is the area behind the eardrum and eustachian tube. It consists of three small bones which conduct sound to the cochlea, which is your main place for processing sound. Not a good place to have a cyst.
He recommended that I have surgery to removed the cyst and to reconstruct the ear bones. These surgeries have fancy names like, tympanoplasty, cholesteatoma and ossicular reconstruction. My surgery was complicated in the fact that the cyst was in the middle ear and not on the ear drum, which meant that my middle ear bones where affected. I was diagnosed in 1990. I was ten. The surgery had only been performed once before me and my doctor was the pioneer in the area.

My parents elected to have the surgery. Not having the surgery meant that not only would I eventually lose my hearing, but the cyst would continue to cause infection and other associated problems. Not removing the cyst was really NOT an option. The process is "a surgical procedure to correct hearing loss from an abnormal middle ear bone(s). One, two, or all three of the middle ear bones are replaced with prosthetic hearing bones." (to quote the University of Miami's Dept of Otolaryngology) I emerged from the surgery with one less cyst and one more prosthesis.

My hearing was obviously improved, but obviously far from perfect. I have can hear most things. However, I can't hear very high tones, or very low tones. Also, I have problems with speech in crowed places, or from far distances. I will not clearly understand you if you speak on my left side. Basically, I read lips if you are on my left. The hearing loss was gradual, so I never really noticed it.

I continued seeing my ENT until I entered college, where all health related issues go to the wayside. (Don't even ask about the state of my liver during my undergraduate years.) My first year of graduate school I went to the emergency room from ear pains. I can't describe it other than stabbing pains in my right ear. The doctor on duty treated me with an outer ear infection gave me a prescription for ear drops and a note to see the ENT in town (via the ENT's contract with the hospital). Did I forget to mention that earlier that week the school nurse practioner had treated me for a middle ear infection? Yes, in my duress at the emergency room I forgot that as well.

I went to the ENT in town the next morning when blood started dripping out my right ear. He refused to see me and gave me the same type bottle of ear drops that I had gotten from the ER. Finally, I decided it was time to call the parents. I've never heard my mother cuss at someone, much less at the volume and rate she was cussing at that doctor on the phone. He hung up on her. Twice. She was irate. Dad was the calm one for the first time ever. He decided to call my old ENT up and get an appointment that day. He couldn't get one with my old doctor as it turn out is now a plastic surgeon, but the doctor pulled a few strings and got me an appointment with a college of his.

Dr. Shaw is the best ENT ever. She's was gentle as she peered in my ear. Turns out my eardrum had ruptured from the infection behind it and I had a hematoma on my ear canal. (Are y'all learning the lesson about trusting general practioner's opinion on ears?) My good ear was stopped up with a wick (to get the ear drops in) and I can't ear with my left ear anyway. Let's just say that I was completely deaf.

Prior to my marriage in Jan of 2005, She recommended that I try another reconstruction surgery to improve my hearing again, while I was still on the parents insurance or that I get a hearing aide. We went for the surgery. (She was not the one performing the surgery, I had to go to an middle ear specialist.) Long story short, you can't tell if the surgery will work until you've healed from the surgery. It's a tricky process. Unfortunately, the surgery fell flat and my hearing was not improved much.

This past month I've been visiting the ENT to getting fitted for my new hearing aid! I have an all digital hearing aid with artificial intelligence to differentiate between speech and sound. It also allows for programming to my specific hearing loss. I mean that rather than it just turning the volume up on everything, it only amplifies those tones that I require. Very wicked.

Mine's light purple!

I am hearing things I didn't know made noise before, like crinkling napkins in my left hand. I have also been learning just how loud things really are, like movies, restaurants and screaming children. I am also learning why people want to throttle screaming children. If scientists want to learn how to break the sound barrier, they just need to listen to a crying child in a crowded pizza parlor on Friday night buffet.

For further reading on hearing loss and hearing aides I recommend the following links:,

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