Thursday, February 14, 2008


I'm having Baha dreams.

No, not the tropical vacation spot. And no, I don't mean not some obscure religion.

The Baha I'm speaking of is a surgically implantable system for treatment of hearing loss that works through direct bone conduction. Specifically, it stands for: bone anchored hearing aids.

Supposedly it works miracles for the hearing impaired like myself. When I was given an evaluation this morning, I fell in love with it. I'm a candidate. Woohoo!

Unfortunately, when my surgeon approached my insurance company three years ago, they denied the surgery and I couldn't afford to pay for it. Hopefully, United has moved out of the dark ages and will approve it now.

I lost my hearing when I was 21, thus I've been hard of hearing all my adult life.

I was in the Air Force and I worked in an extremely noisy shop with inadequate ear protection. To top it off, when I began to have excruciating pain, I was pregnant with my first child and the AF base hospital OB/GYN clinic didn't believe I was having a serious problem. They insisted that it's normal for expectant women to have earaches and headaches. Thus, they allowed the tumor to grow in my ear for many months. The day the OB clinic finally sent me to ENT, I overheard the doctor saying that "I'll stop her malingering once and for all. We're going to prove nothing's wrong." Instead, the ENT doctor found my tumor. I wish I could have seen the OB's face when she got the news. I never saw her again, however. That's how the Air Force medicine worked - I rarely saw the same doctor twice. After Luke was born, I had a radical left mastoidectomy (ear surgery). The pain went away, but so did much of the hearing. This morning, the audiologist said I have "severe to profound" hearing loss.

Unfortunately, no hearing aids have been able to help much. I wear an over-the-ear model on my left ear. See the diagram left. My aid is similar to the one pictured on the bottom middle. It helps a little. If someone stands next to my left ear and speaks, I can't understand them. However, it seems to help my overall hearing. I don't ask "what" as often and I don't have to turn the radio up as loud as when I'm not wearing it.

So wish me luck. I would love to be able to hear conversations without missing half of what is said, or misunderstanding so much.

This wasn't much of a Valentine's Day post. Of course, I was at a softball game all evening and haven't celebrated yet. Hubby and I plan to celebrate Saturday night. I hope you all had a very happy Valentine's Day!


Yvonne said...

The very best of luck Ashley! I really hope your insurance company approves the operation. Keep us posted on your progress?

Molly Daniels said...

Don't you just love the insurance companies' reasoning? When my hubby had heart surgery and had to start monitering his blood, he had to start getting his INR levels checked every week. There's a home device that does the same thing, and had he been on medicaid, it would have been provided at no cost. But insurance won't pay for it. Same with the Gardisell vaccination for my teen daughter...'until it becomes mandantory', they'll pay zilch.

Best of luck with the implant...I ruptured my ear drum in '96 and had to have a tube put in it. Ear pain is the pits, but it gave me a new appreciation for the hearing-impaired. And I still have problems in noisy rooms!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the well wishes. I'll definitely keep you posted. I should have fought harder 3 years ago. This time I will if it comes back denied. I really need to hear better for my job. I speak on the phone to donors all day long and I have trouble hearing them a lot of times. I misunderstand conversations in person a LOT.

When I was a kid, they didn't put tubes in ears. If they'd had that procedure, I'd probably hear much better now. I'm just happy they have tubes now to help others.

Brynn Paulin said...

Here's hoping that the insurance company has gotten a clue by now. Good luck!

sterlingwriter said...

The insurance company will approve your request. The insurance company will approve your request. (I'm using the Star Wars suggestion Force here. Hey, it showed up in my WIP the other day, why not to help you?)
Seriously, all the luck. I have minor loss, usually during conversations. I'm good at lip reading and guessing.

Unknown said...

I must lip read because when people are in front of me, I can understand them much better. But I swear, if I heard no sound, I couldn't tell what they're saying by lips alone.

Caffey said...

Ashley, don't know if you know, but I'm deaf. I was born with severe hearing loss and was totally deaf by age 13. I too have a son who is hard of hearing and my husband is deaf too.

Insurances will pay for cochlear implants, which is different than Baha, but similar too, just two different deafnesses and implants to improve it. I know that to get it, have to have a good skilled worker writing the letter to the insurances. Making sure they indicate the medical necessary (to hear approaching cars while walking, various things). They too need to stress its not a hearing aid, but using medical terms for what the implant does (its been so long since I've seen a letter to remember what words they used, but those in ENT have done many letters so they should know all this). So if denied, don't give up, keep them writing from the ENT. I'll be rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ashley, I know exactly what you are talking about (except for the insurance side of things). I would encourage you to get a solicitor as your hearing loss and tumour could be caused through your working environment (sadly this would probably be hard to prove). Secondly, I am a Cochlear Awareness Volunteer here in Australia and provide presentations for professional organisations, clubs, groups. I also meet up with prospective recipients for a 'show and tell', write for the media and web. Please read 'my story' on click on to recipients and click onto Wendy. I hope, by reading this, you will not feel alone and it will encourage you to keep fighting for justice. I actually went to my GP for 6 years complaining of 'falling to the right' and he told me that I was stressed or it was a virus only to told by FOUR eminent surgens that I was inoperable and only had weeks to live. So, be strong Ashley, be motivated, confident and assertive and you WILL succeed and once you receive your Baha you WILL start to live as normal a life as possible because the Baha IS the Rolls Royce of hearing technology and my quality of life is amazing after receiving it. Good luck. Wendy Jansz, Sydney Australia PS when you look at our website please go to services and then resources and print these two pages and put them on the back of the toilet door everywhere you go, especially your DOCTORS rooms. Happy everything and hope your late Valentines Day celebrations were as happy as ours. Wendy

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