I am working on a setting up an appointment with audiologist #2 (who will forevermore be referred to as “my audiologist”) to pick out hearing aids. Deja vu, anyone?
I went to the ENT today. First, let me say I loved Dr. O. He is awesome. Very knowledgeable and personable. Just a great doctor, so that was good.
I started out by telling him I had two conflicting audiograms and he jumped right in and said we’d re-test, so re-test we did.
A lot of it was the same as before – listening to tones through headphones, listening to tones through my nerve, listening to and repeating words. Both the first audiologist and my audiologist did these tests.
Then they did a test that the first audiologist never did, but mine did, and that’s a “masking” test where they play static noises in one ear while playing tones to the other nerve.
There was an additional tests I hadn’t had before, and that was something where I had a headphone in my ear, and some sort of weighted sensor on my shoulder. They would play loud sounds in my ear, and the sensor would register the movement of my inner ear in response to the sounds.
First, it seems that when the first audiologist left out the masking test, that is where she ended up getting the sensorineural loss. Something about that test is what made the difference in showing my loss was NOT purely sensorineural, that there were some instances of conductive loss only.
Second, that last test they did today showed that my inner ear is not vibrating and reacting as it should to the loud noises. What does that mean?
Otosclerosis. My audiologist was right.
What it means is that the tiny bones of my middle ear are slowly fusing together. The more fused they become, the worse my hearing gets. The “fix” is a procedure called a stapedectomy, where they go in and free the fixed stapes and insert a prosthetic. It’s not fool proof and often needs repeated through the years.
The problem? I’m not currently a candidate for a stapedectomy. If I understood correctly, the reason is because I still have enough conductive hearing that my stapes does still have some movement, so if they were to go in to try to do the surgery, it could vibrate and wreck a very delicate procedure.
That means that right now, my “fix” is hearing aids. It also means that my hearing is likely going to continue to deteriorate, unfortunately. Once it gets bad enough (read: near deaf), then I could get the surgery, or opt for an implanted hearing device that is a small rod inserted near my auditory nerve that would allow sound to bypass my ear and send sound directly to my nerve. Ew.
He asked about my family history, as otosclerosis is thought to be 80% hereditary. The only family member I know of who had hearing loss was my paternal grandfather. I have no idea what caused his loss, and as far as I know, he was never diagnosed. I recall having to yell at him to get his attention and everyone being frustrated with him, sadly. Dr. O said it is highly likely he had otosclerosis as well.
Due to the heridary component, it looks like the kids each have a 50/50 chance of inheriting this from me. It tends to start between the ages of 11-30, which is exactly when mine started (I’ve had problems since at least high school). It’s more prevalent in women, and pregnancy can kick start it or make it worse.
This led Dr. O to ask me about our plans for more children, which I said were highly unlikely (thanks, Mother Nature – NOT) and he said while it’s not a reason to completely avoid having a child, there is a chance I could lose more of my hearing should I ever get pregnant again – or even lose all of my hearing.
Because this blog was started about our journey through infertility, I think this is a prime time to point out how much I hate my body. As if being infertile doesn’t suck enough… as if having the CHOICE of procreation [in the natural sense] taken from you doesn’t suck enough… now, if through some immaculate work of forces beyond my control we did ever conceive again, I could go DEAF? Awesome. Completely f*&@ing awesome.
As I said, that puts me back to where I THOUGHT I was a week ago – picking out hearing aids. We’ll see how it goes this time. My audiologist already asked me what days/times work for me, and we will go over my needs (both auditory and work) and pick what will be best, let DVR know, and get some hearing aids. Hopefully.