My Hearing Impairment
My Problem with hearing began when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I had a number of very bad colds, and as a result this inflamed my tonsils and adenoids which became infected, also I had Quinsy on top of this as well which is an abscess of the tonsils. The Gunthorpe Juniors school in Peterborough that I was at, reported to my parents that I was not hearing well in class, this was probably because Inflamed tonsils can block the draining and ventilation tubes that runs down from the middle ear to the throat. My inner ear was likely filled with fluid, a condition today called glue ear. With correct antibiotics and healing time I would have recovered, possibly without any hearing loss. After much delay from the Ear Nose & Throat Consultant back then, my tonsils and adenoids were removed and I was given a hearing aid to wear. I believe that my hearing problem that I have today is from the constant daily use of progressively high powered hearing aids over the last 40 years and not from infections I had in my youth.
The rest of my schooling was spent at a Partially hearing unit at Dogsthorpe school in Peterborough and then when I was 11 I was sent away to boarding schools at both Mary Hare Grammar School near Newbury and Ovingdean Hall School Brighton.
During the latter part of 2006 and early into 2007 I was prescribed with two different analogue hearing aids because the ones I had been wearing were no longer available. I was persuaded at the time to try the new Digital hearing aids and although I had tried two different models. I found that I could not get on with them as they sounded very tinny. I soon went back to wearing some suitable replacement analogue ones.
A surprise came on the Friday 14th September 2007. This was a letter from the Emmeline Centre for Hearing Implants at Cambridge. The letter told me they have had a referral for a cochlear implant and wanted to know if I still wanted to go ahead with this. I had forgotten all about this, although when ever I went to the audiology at my local hospital I often wondered when or if I would ever hear from Cambridge. Of course I immediately wrote back by email saying that I was interested and did still wanted to go ahead.
Friday 23rd November was my very first visit to the Emmeline Center at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. We my wife Alison and I (whom is also having assessments for an implant) arrived to find a car parking space with little time to spare, must remember next time to turn up extra early to get a place, and reported to the reception area dead on 10.30am. Alison's interpreter turned up on time to help her. We were then taken into a consulting room to be given an idea of the program and what to expect over the coming weeks or months ahead.
After a couple of hours of this we were then given a half hours break and on returning to the reception we were then sent to our first set of tests. I had what I believed to be a cuny test and this involved sitting before a screen where I had to watch an expressionless mans face without any sound. I had to show my lip reading skills. This test went on for a good twenty minuets, I did well on some parts and badly on others. There were no other visual clues as to what the man was saying and I found it hard to do.
After this I then had to lip read the same man again but this time with only one hearing aid switched on while the other was switched off, this was easier but there were still difficulties, soon after another fifteen minuets I then had to change over and do the same again, right to left and vice versa. The final test after this was to just listen to what the man was saying without seeing him on the screen at all and this proved to be nearly impossible, but I had to tell the examiner what the speech sounded like even though some things sounded extremely silly. For example: The postman kneed on the floor' which sounded to me like, 'The postman peed on the door!
Another and final test for the day was a touch screen of letters between the words Ahh and Ahh. I had to listen and touch the screen as to what letters between the Ahh - Ahh I heard. So for example: Ahh B Ahh ... Ahh G Ahh ... Ahh S Ahh ... Ahh D Ahh ... Ahh N Ahh and so on.
By 3pm when all these tests had finished I was mentally shattered, very tired. I know that if I had I been digging the garden all day I would not have been so exhausted. It was time to go home.
Now each evening I find myself reading much about cochlear implants on the Internet, information and subscribing to various Internet forums etc. All ready I am finding people with mixed opinions, who are either completely for this and some who are completely against. I will need to find out as much as I can before making up my mind as to whether i will go for it or not.
Below is a copy of my audiogram, this is a hearing chart and is very similar to a graphic equaliser on your Hi Fi music system where you can adjust the range of different frequencies. Possibly I will be getting an updated audiogram on my next visit to the Emmeline Centre.
Wednesday 28th November 2007. Today we were there at the hospital really early and easily found a parking space, had ample time for a cuppa tea and sandwich in the Women's Royal Voluntary Services cafe before checking in at the Emmeline Centre reception. Somehow I felt that it was not going to be a good day. In spite of a good journey and start to the afternoon, met two other cochlear recipients and Alison interpreter, a very pleasant man from just outside of Ipswich named Doug, we had an hour and a half to wait for the first of our two appointments.
Although on the appointment letter I was told to allow up to one hour for consulting about family medical history, I was done and out by the end of less than ten minuets! I had not long to wait back in the reception for my next appointment for an audiologist to do my hearing tests and to making some new ear moulds She also asked me questions about my medical history like I explained at the top of this page.
I didn't feel that there was any real benefit in attending today and possibly for the first time I felt that I probably was not going to be accepted for the implant. It seems that they might be thinking I am getting on too well with my old analogue hearing aids or that I speak too well, or am too deaf or not deaf enough. I don't know. I will be expecting a letter sometime for another appointment to return again to try some digital hearing aids again, possibly the same as I tried before, I'll have to wait and see. Probably some of the best advice today was by another CI user and that is to take one step at a time. We'll see what happens in days to come...
Watch this space..
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