The Things We Do When We Have a Hearing Loss
Part Two

By Rick Faunt, HLAA-WA Treasurer

photo of headphones, ear probe, and an audiology exam report

I left off in Part 1 of my story with the hope that a half-dozen surgical attempts to correct a hearing loss would result in stabilized hearing. You may remember that my hearing loss was caused by a nonfunctioning Eustachian tube that allowed a bumper crop of germs, bugs, and other slimy things to grow and feed upon the middle ear bones. Unfortunately, my usual luck continued to hold true after these surgeries.

Success…Kind of

Yes, the surgeries did work. I got a 20 dB improvement in the hearing on my right side that lasted almost a year. But — and there’s always a “but,” isn’t there? — the “permanent” ventilation tube that was supposed to allow the ear to drain and keep the pressure equal got plugged, and it needed some TLC from the doctor.

I didn’t really notice the decrease in hearing until I had my annual follow-up hearing test and exam by the staff at the Veterans Affairs Regional Medical Center. The audiologist noticed that my hearing level had dropped since the post-surgery test, and I had effectively lost about half of the gain we had made. He also noted that the eardrum had a poor response to the pressure test.

After giving me that batch of good news, he sent me out to the waiting room to think about things until the ENT doctor could see me. The luck of the draw gave me the resident doctor this time instead of the head doctor. Oh goody, more practice for a resident! I am convinced that my chart is stamped with big letters saying, “This guy is a great guinea pig.”

Sharp, Pointed Objects….Ooops

The resident doctor looked in my ear and determined that the tube was plugged up. He tried to unstop it using a variety of sharp, pointed objects. When these didn’t work, he tried the suction hose. That worked, I guess. It sucked out the tube along with whatever was clogging it.

Upon hearing him say “Oops!” I became decidedly unfriendly. After exchanging thoughts and plans of action, we decided to let the ear heal, and I’d come back in a few months to see if any fluid had built up. He decided this after I explained in my calm, quiet, reasonable manner that the reason the tube was in my ear in the first place is because I have a long history of fluid building up and causing problems.

I waited the three months it takes for things to heal, or maybe they felt it takes that long for me to calm down. When I returned, this time I got the man, the head honcho himself, the guy that did the surgery. He looked in my ear and concluded that I needed a tube inserted to drain the fluid that had built up. Maybe the look of absolute disgust on my face had something to do with it, or maybe he suddenly recalled some of my discussions with his staff. Either way, he then apologized and said that getting a new tube inserted would probably become a routine part of my hearing care plan.

So, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Stay tuned for part three.

About the author

Rick Faunt has been a member of HLAA, in its several names, since 1996. He has held nearly every office at the Chapter and State level and continues to this day. He is a retired Boeing worker and was a consultant/installer of various Assistive Listening Systems for the hard of hearing.

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