Several here are aware that in July of 2010 I awoke one morning to find myself deaf for all practical purposes. In 1998 I awoke one morning to find that my right ear had lost 84% of hearing and in July 2010 my left ear died. Nada. Nothing.
In 1998 they advised that due to the type of residual hearing I had in my right ear and the fact that I had a good functioning left ear, they wouldn't advise a hearing aid for my right ear.
Last year I had no alternative but to get the most powerful hearing aid made. With it, I have what is described as 10% hearing. That means if 10 words are spoken by a human voice I will recognize 1 word. The small amount of residual hearing I have with a hearing aid is so distorted I recognize 10% of what is being said and I have to fill in the blanks to try to make sense of it. It's a constant mental struggle and Rennie and his lovely wife can attest that I have to ask folks to repeat themselves alot just to try to follow a conversation.
The very large corporation I that employed me was very generous to me but as a field engineer working on CT scanners, MR scanners and x-ray equipments, my deafness presented some real safety problems for my personal safety and the safety of the customers machines. February of this year I retired. In my personal shop, I can't hear my tablesaw running...my bandsaw running....my jointer, router or planer running. While I can't hear my DC running I can sometimes hear the airflow at some stations....all this while wearing my hearing aid. Without the hearing aid, I can't hear any tools. I have to really be careful in my shop these days.
For various professional scheduling reasons and some attempted treatments, it took until December 3rd for me to become qualified for a cochlear implant. The medical field can't prove why I lost my hearing. I have been diagnosed with Menieres' Disease but that doesn't explain the sudden loss of hearing as hearing loss due to that disease is generally a gradual loss. The theory is that the hairs lining the cochlea of the inner ear dropped off and the inner ear is now defective.
There are 3 companie that produce FDA approved cochlear implants..one company in Australia is the oldest and has the oldest design. One company in Austria which has the newest design and is the newest approved for use in the US market and then there is Advanced Bionics headquartered in California.
Advanced Bionics was bought out about 2 years ago by a Swedish corporation that also owns Phonak the largest hearing aid company in the world.
For technical reasons with which I won't bore everybody, AB's implant will simulate most closely the normal functioning cochlea IMHO. The problem arose that it entered a self-imposed recall last November 23 when it had 2 of 28,000 implants fail in such a way to cause patients pain. I didn't qualify until December 3rd a few weeks later. They used an outside engineering firm, found the problem, changed their manufacturing process, ran a multitude of tests with associated documentation. They were reapproved for the European and Asian markets in March 2011, to the Canadian market in June...and in the US market on September 13, 2011.
Today I was implanted with an AB cochlear implant and have an activation date of Novermber 22, 2011. Bear in mind, it could take upto 2 years to retrain my brain to recognize this new electrical stimulation as sound. In just under 1% of the patients, CIs don't work. In short, I have taken the first step to try to regain some hearing.
I am amazed at the way I have handled todays surgery. Go to youtube and search cochlear implant surgery. Be prepared..it was a little more complex than my wife and I was expecting.
So I have a processor embedded in my skull now.
I became a cyborg today.