All my life I've struggled with hearing loss. I was affected with juvenile otosclerosis and the loss got so bad that in my teens I had bilateral stapedectomies performed. That means they did surgery on each ear and replaced a non working bone with a prosthetic piston. This “fix” worked well for a while and I lived a wonderful young adulthood with decent, passable hearing. In the early 2000's my hearing began to fade again. I ignored it in the beginning. I had a wonderful fulfilling job as an EMT Intermediate on a 911 truck and I volunteered on my local ambulance. I was Chief for 6 years. Life was good. I chose not to believe that I was again losing my hearing. Sadly, eventually I couldn't deny it. Relationships with co-workers were struggling because I would misunderstand people and patients were not getting the best patient care they deserved. I eventually resigned from my position since I felt I wasn't doing my job at 100%, the patients deserved better.
My hearing continued to deteriorate. Then in the Spring of 2011, I became horribly sick. It hit hard and fast. One minute I was fine and the next, I was on the floor unable to walk or hear very well. Everything sounded like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons. I crawled to the phone, called my husband at work and told him something was horribly wrong, that I couldn't hear right and please come home. I couldn't make out his answer, and hung up hoping he understood how dire it was and was on his way. He called his parents to come watch the kids and hauled me to the ER. I had pneumonia in which the bacteria had also infected the inner ear, leaving me profoundly deaf on the left side and leaving me with lasting equilibrium/balance issues that I still battle with today.
The hearing never came back. The nerve was killed. It is considered a “dead ear”. My right ear has an impairment in the speech range which makes it difficult for me to understand speech if I am not looking directly at the person and supplementing incoming sound with lip reading. I had a Cochlear BAHA implant last year which has made life a lot easier, but it doesn't “fix” everything. I still don't have directional hearing. It doesn't make my left ear hear, that hearing is gone forever. It takes sounds originating on the left side and transfers it to the right. It is an improvement, but it is only as good as the right ear – which isn't good - and I still can't hear at night in bed when I'm lying on my right side.
With one deaf ear and one impaired ear, I no longer have directional/stereo hearing. If I hear a sound, I cannot locate where it is coming from and if that sound originates on the left side, I can't hear it without my Cochlear BAHA on. I cannot wear the BAHA in wet or snowy weather or while sleeping. If I am asleep and I have rolled over onto my “good” ear, I cannot hear the smoke detector or alarm or phone. I also cannot hear a knock at the door or stove timer. A hearing dog will assist me in all these functions therefore helping me keep my children safe and if I am out shopping, a hearing dog will help me become aware of my surroundings.
I have three beautiful girls. I would do anything to keep them safe, including stepping out of my comfort zone to raise funds for NEADS.
Please consider donating to defray the costs of a hearing dog for either me or another client. Your donation, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated!