The first step into this journey is having my first visit with the ENT doctor to establish myself as a patient. The doctor (ugh!) did not know Auditory Verbal Therapy however, she did recognize after my explanation that it is the exactly same audio rehab therapy that cochlear implant patient received post-implantation. Before I met my new ENT, I had my hearing exam with the audiologist on site.
I had a lovely conversation about my capabilities with my new Audiologist. Topics included: my candidacy for cochlear implants, its risks and benefits, hearing aids path, hearing aids manufacturers, my hearing goals, impact of my maintenance medications on my brain listening effectiveness and today’s hearing exam results.
For those of you readers are not familiar with how a hearing exam is executed, here is an YouTube video of the same examination I had today:
As you can see in the video, the patient is pressing the button whenever he hears the sound. However in my case, I am trained to close my eyes and focus to hear the sounds so I am not visually distracted, meaning I am devoting my entire brain to listen in that moment. Since I am profoundly deaf, I do have a history of false positives especially when I concentrate too hard. During the test, I must be in relaxed and focused state to produce a meaningful result.
Also, during the examination, the test is performed WITHOUT my hearing aids on and its results are based on my “unaided” hearing – the actual natural (or residual) hearing I have since birth plus any aging erosion.
This is where I can get frustrated and forget I AM deaf! At every hearing test, I go in thinking I am hearing very well lately and therefore should passed the test. BUT, that will never happen because I AM deaf! Duh! So in my case and as with many other deaf friends of mine, its not the passing or failing of the test but instead it is the “degree” of failure that matters.
Hearing Exam results are scored on a grid called “Audiogram”. Here is another great video on how to read an audiogram:
So, what did my “unaided” audiogram look like in today’s test? Here it is:
Yup! As I have known since birth – I am 100% profoundly deaf no matter how well I think I did on the test! You will notice at some frequency – especially after 1.5k Hz high frequency – I am really OFF the chart! Ka-BOOM! However, it also shows I still have some TINY, TINY, TIIIINNNNY residual hearing left!
So after discussing the results on the audiogram and other topics, my Audiologist and I have come up with a few agreements and an action plan:
- Still keep the cochlear implant as an option – decision can be made at the conclusion of the hearing aids path
- Audiologist is an authorized Phonak dealer. Phonak is one of several hearing aid manufacturer that I would consider besides Oticon (which I have been a life-long user of)
- Meet again on January 30th to go through a wide spectrum of Phonak models and products based on my test results, my hearing goals, technology features and my brain listening capability.
- The selection of the chosen hearing aid model will be determined by the widest gap between “unaided” (hearing without hearing aids on) and “aided” (hearing with hearing aids on) hearing, the natural tone of sounds and people voices AND the technology features of the hearing aids.
- We also agreed that if Phonak is not my chosen manufacturer, I will pursue another audiologist locally who is an authorized Oticon dealer.
It looks like at this point, I am pursuing the hearing aids path. In conclusion, doing the hearing exams, generating too many false positives, is like this:
Stay tuned after January 30th!