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prolificus's avatar

Would you choose to have elective surgery that could drastically improve your life, yet significantly impact your appearance and lifestyle?

Asked by prolificus (6583points) March 10th, 2010

I have nerve deafness in my left ear as a result of an accident at age four. While many would not consider one-sided deafness to be a disability, it has affected me in several ways. I shy away from group situations because hearing a single conversation can be difficult. I tend to show anger or frustration when I misinterpret what I hear, not because of what was said. I have been accused of being shy, when in reality I love to be around people, I just don’t speak much because I’m concentrating on hearing and lip-reading, or my head is spinning from processing all the sound retrieved from my right ear. Or, I simply didn’t hear someone call for my attention.

There are many audible pleasures I’ve not fully enjoyed because of my one-sided hearing. The list is endless.

Concentrating all my listening energy on lip-reading and hearing with my right ear has caused the left side of my body to feel like a ghost to me at times.

The type of hearing loss I have cannot be resolved with an ordinary hearing aid. Last year, an audiologist recommended a surgical implant that would conduct sound through my skull and relay the sound to my right ear. Attached to the surgical implant would be a hearing aid, the size of a match box. (Click here to see the device.)

I’ve been holding off following through because of how it would affect my appearance and lifestyle. (I’m not vain, but I don’t want to draw obvious attention to the fact I have hearing loss. Also, I like to wear hats, and the device would limit my hat-wearing options. Something minor to others, but important to me.) I’ve spent most of my life compensating for my hearing loss. And, I’m not sure if the implant is the best option.

If you had an opportunity to fix a hidden disability, but it involved making the invisible, visible, would you?

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think that I would try the implant so you can see what difference it makes in your life. To your temperament. To your experience of the world around you. If you elected not to attach the device, you could.

Fyrius's avatar

Given the choice between being one-sidedly deaf and becoming a cyborg, I think I’d pick the latter. I mean, here you have the possibility to get a freaking bionic ear. How awesome is that?

If you’re having trouble deciding, ask your doctor if you can somehow attach a little black box that size to your head without going through with the surgery yet, just to find out what it’s like.

lilikoi's avatar

The device looks pretty darn cool. I mean, aesthetically it is kind of like a high-tech ugly 1990s pager, but once you know what it does, wow!

jaytkay's avatar

That is an interesting question and an interesting device. I would do it. You wrote “I tend to show anger or frustration when I misinterpret what I hear” – I know that feeling, having experienced temporary deafness. I was cranky and irritable and people avoided me.

YoH's avatar

I absolutely would take advantage of such a device. It would enable me to be a part of what I’ve been missing.

hearkat's avatar

Hello; I am an Audiologist.

The BAHA device is barely noticeable. I have a middle-aged male patient with a grey device to blend with his short hair and he’s gone through Airport Security and no one said anything. He says it is barely noticed by anyone.

I see that you mention that the device picks up sound from the bad side, and sends it to the good inner ear—I want you to understand that your better ear will still be processing all the sounds. However, many people develop some ability to distinguish what they are hearing through the device as opposed to what they are hearing through the good ear naturally.

Another option for the same concept is a CROS hearing system where you’d wear 2 hearing devices that would use a wireless connection to transmit the sound from the bad side to the good ear. There is also the TransEar device that uses bone conduction via a deep fitting earmold on the bad side.

Most of my patients that are reluctant to get hearing instruments because of cosmetic concerns usually report back that they find that the device is less conspicuous than their communication difficulties were.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would probably get the device
.I found out last year that I have MS.Sometimes I will use a cane if I am feeling limpy and it does not stop me from wearing heels.Just last weekend,a woman questioned my “heels and cane combo”.I wanted to beat the shit out of her with it.Lol!
I like to rock some heels ;)It’s best not to care what others think and to do what suits you best.Good luck.

Haleth's avatar

Your hearing loss is causing you some significant problems if it changes the way you interact with people. If you had the hearing aid, you might get a few questions about what it is or not be able to wear hats, but you’ll be able to participate more fully in society. I’d get the device; it sounds like it could really change your life. Good luck!

john65pennington's avatar

Take it from an old cop that wears hearing aids… it. do anything that will help you to hear better and to restore your body as whole. for years, i did not realize the sounds that i was missing. hearing aids restored my hearing and now i can even hear the birds sing. something i have not heard in years. gunfights, loud police sirens on top of police cars, and loud rock and roll music in my headphones ruined my hearing. at least my hearing loss was equal…..both ears. my mother hears only from one ear and she has the same problem as you. if this procedure can restore your other ear hearing, then whats the holdup? hang the appearance.people will accept you as you are. let your hair grow long and hide your aid if thats what it takes. its your life and your hearing….........that you are missing. do it.

marinelife's avatar

Hooray to hearkat!

Buttonstc's avatar

You said that it would make the previously invisible now visible. Not necessarily, unless you choose to do so.

With the proliferation of Bluetooth earpiece devices for cell phones nowadays, this device you linked to is even smaller than that.

I see people all over the place with these fairly conspicuous one-sided Bluetooth devices even when they aren’t actively in a conversation.

The first time I saw one on a store clerk a few years ago I remember how strange it seemed. I even joked around with him about being assimilated by the Borg and he just laughed good naturedly. Nowadays, I never give it a second thought.

I’m assuming that unless they’ve been living in a cave for the last several years, most of the population has had a similar experience to mine.

Prior to seeing the picture in that link you provided, if I had encountered someone wearing it, I would have just automatically assumed it was a Bluetooth earpiece.

The only ones who may ask about it are very young children to whom every new thing they encounter prompts a question but there is certainly no malice in their questions.

If you choose, you could just jokingly (or seriously) tell anyone who asks, child or adult, that it’s the latest Bluetooth option :) how could the tell the difference?

I think it’s a much bigger issue in your mind than it will be in actuality.

As for me personally, I would gladly trade hat wearing convenience for being able to have better relationships and interactions with people. It wouldn’t even be a close call.

Modern technology can do some truly wonderful life enhancing things for us.

I would investigate all of the options which Hearcat mentioned and decide which would be the best option.

But to use nothing and remain as cut off from the world and limited as you described yourself as being would be unthinkable for me.

You don’t have to be “shy” from hearing loss any longer unless you choose to be. And why would you want to choose that?

casheroo's avatar

I chose to have a surgery that could have completely altered my lifestyle. It was either that, or live in pain…but with the risk of the surgery not working at all. I took the risk, and the risk of complications…I’m glad I did.

prolificus's avatar

@hearkat – thank you so very much for the specific information. I will keep this in mind as I explore options with my audiologist!

@everyone – I agree that it’s more important to take care of my need to hear than to worry about altering my appearance. Thanks for your input, it helped me to think about my feelings towards this stuff.

MissA's avatar

Have the surgery for all the obvious reasons. Like stated above, bluetooth technology is such that you will not look out of place. It’s simple…unless appearance takes precedence over your ability to hear, make the appointment yesterday! It seems so obvious that I can’t believe you would need or want to ask.

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