08 June 2006

Implanted Yogi

I've had a severe to profound hearing loss all my life. I've worn hearing aids in the left ear, both, and now just the right one. It has its positives and negatives. The traffic doesn't keep you up at night when you visit NYC (you take out your heaing aid to sleep), but I can't hear U2 in concert without wearing a hearing aid (which is the profound part of my hearing loss)... or the sound of a hummingbird's wings either way.

So it's been a challenge learning yoga from time to time - between my hearing loss and the quietness that can permeate a yoga class. However, learning in yoga is as much visual as anything else so imitation, in the main, is my teacher.

Lately my hearing has grown profoundly worse in a very short time. So I've been a little freaked out, and also spending time with ENT doctors and audiologists trying to figure it out. One option that we are kicking around is a cochlear implant, which is an implant into the cochlea of the ear so that sound is transmitted electronically to your "hearing nerves" rather than through aural amplification. The picture spells it out in fewer words...

The audiologist did a test of my comprehension of sentences spoken in a normal conversational tone to me whilst wearing two hearing aids. My comprehension was only 33% of all words - you're a candidate for an implant if you score below 50%. So I passed by failing...

Amazingly it is a real possibility that I'd be able to understand speech much better if the implant works well for me! Right now I am able to discern ZERO words in my left ear in that test I mentioned a moment ago... the reason you have to score less than 50% in order to be eligible for a cochlear implant because that's the level most folks find that an implant gets them back to - so I can essentially double my sensitivity to sound overall. I can't even imagine what that would be like. As a "deaf" person, I wonder if I can handle that the nosiy, real world!

I was, and am, scared of the whole thing on so many levels. But it could be the best thing ever. For example, now I can't wear my hearing aid to most yoga classes because the aid can't handle sweat/high humidity. But the electronics for an implant can handle that kind of moisture - so I'd probably be able to understand what's going on in a yoga class better than ever.

So my profound loss of hearing is showing me how I might be able to hear profoundly better.

There's a profound messsage there somewhere...



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