Monday, November 28, 2005

How it will be paid for!

Dear HBF (health insurance for those not in Australia)

After years of fighting tooth and nail to get you to pay a decent percentage of the costs of hearing aids, I forgive you. I am still in shock after finding out you'll cover practically the whole CI device. Not to mention that being a private patient means I go to a fancy hospital :P

Dear Government

Thank you for paying the gap that HBF doesn't cover. I realise that the benefit has only been available since October and the timing couldn't have been more perfect ;)

Dear Work

Thank you for being so understanding and accomodating. It is a real load off my shoulders knowing I can take as much time off as necessary without worrying that I'd be resented for it. I can not imagine my previous employer being this nice OR flexible.


So, thats all the outside factors taken care of!! My next appointment is in 2 weeks, it involves a bunch of hearing tests then seeing the ENT again!

Friday, November 25, 2005

How it will work

As a fair warning, its going to be an emotional process so any ranting and raving isn't intended to milk for sympathy but just more of an outlet. So apologies in advance if I sound like an emotional wreck ;)

For those who have absolutely no idea what a Cochlear Implant (CI) is you can visit this link and that has a picture and describes how it works.
During surgery, they "install" an electrode into the cochlear and this electrode stimulates remaining nerve fibres and makes the brain think its sound. There is also some kind of titanium plate under the skin, I think Dane is looking forward to sticking magnets to my head :P There is an attachment (speech processor) which looks and is worn like a hearing aid which has the microphone which directs the sound to the electrode.

Its also like a hearing aid in the fact that you can't sleep/shower in it, you take it off.

It is better than a hearing aid because all a H/A does is increase sound. I have lost ALL my high pitch so no matter how loud my hearing aid is, I can not hear things like birds. A CI will not only increase sound but will do it across all pitches. I think the idea is that it also increases clarity... with my hearing loss, I can tell there is sound but I can't work out what is being said.

So basically the goal of the CI is to allow the recipient to have normal hearing. Telephones, no lip-reading, understanding group conversations, uncaptioned movies/tv. And still with the benefit of silence at night for a good nights sleep :P

But the CONS! It is NOT guarenteed to work.

One major thing stopping me is during surgery, you lose your residule hearing. I may not have much left of it, but I can use a hearing aid and if it didn't work, I'd be even more withdrawn and it would be even harder to communicate with me than it is now. And I do appreciate the fact that people do make the extra effort to make sure they are understood :)

The other major thing stopping me is that if a face nerve gets hit, that paralyses one side of my face. Great. (Saying that, my surgeon says he's never done that).

It could upset your balance... it could get infected... other normal sort of risks when you go in for surgery. (knowing my luck, it'd be the anesthetic that kills me).

Its VERY expensive but we are hoping health insurance covers that. I find out next week exactly how much it will cover.

Apparently everything sounds different. You have to learn to hear again. Because the technology is so focused on speech, music can either be improved or ruined forever. What would I do without Run to Paradise??

Then the other thing is more about work letting me have time off because they like you having 3 weeks off to recover from surgery. Then all the time off for various tests.

SURGERY: Its DAY surgery, you don't even stay overnight. I couldn't believe that, especially as they drill holes in your head! haha!

Then its 3 weeks for the wounds to heal. After 3 weeks you go in to actually have the speech processer (hearing aid thing) turned on and "tuned". They start you off on a low volume (thank god, I don't think I could handle "normal" loudness) then they turn it up each week.

After all this... there is a 90% success rate. And I like those odds.

Feel free to ask any questions, if I don't know the answer, it'll give me something to ponder!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Specialist appointment this afternoon. He got my money's worth of the x-rays by staring at them for ages before finally announcing my head is all normal (ha!) and that I can have surgery.

I haven't actually made any firm decisions about getting the cochlear implant yet.