January 4, 2013
After toying with the idea of having cochlear implants (CI), I am now taking the steps to make this a reality. Some of the fears about just having it done are tabled, and I am just taking it one day at a time…my self-preservation tactic to avoid any kind of sucker punch that may halt the process.
I have been wearing hearing aids for 30 years (actually this very year because I was fitted with my first pair while holding infant Stephanie in my lap) I was able to keep the cost of getting 2 hearing aids every 7 years or so with Voc Rehab, Flex Benefits, appealing to school principal to follow ADA requirements. The cost was usually an up-front one-time payment ranging from $1000 to $5000. After moving to Colorado and not working full time that became a future burden I didn’t want to face.
I met a new audiologist and ENT at the University of Colorado Hospital. I took the first test in 2008 and then again in 2011. I “hear” too well to qualify using my brain to fill in the pockets I don’t hear. On Dec 31st 2012, I had failed enough to qualify, going from a speech discrimination of 67% to 28% bilaterally. My hearing loss hasn’t changed but the word clarity is in the bucket (aging process sucks)
So now the process of acceptance is in motion. A balance/gravity test VNG (Videonystagmography) and VEMP (Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential) was administered last Wednesday, January 2, 2013. This involved trying to get me dizzy by flushing warm and cold water into my ear canals and then measuring my eye movements while wearing a mask and then testing the balance organ by marking neck muscle, sternum, and ear canal electrodes. Evidently I passed that with the knowledge that my left ear is more balanced than my right by a slight margin. Still no indication that both ears could not be implanted simultaneously.
So now I wait 2 weeks until January 14th to meet with the surgeon and audiologist to decide on the right product for my lifestyle, get the info about the surgery and schedule a CT scan to check the bones. I have a library of promo material from the 2 companies and my single solo alone mind to figure out which to pick. THEN the coup de grace approval from BCBS, All of this hassle, testing, money, and false hope have to happen before I can even find out if I can have the surgery. Actually the possibility of not being approved is pretty slim, but how much out of pocket is the big roadblock and my biggest fear. I am preparing myself to hear that this will cost me my deductible ($3000). If I have to pay a 20% over that which would be close to $20,000), I have to call off the deal. I’m not too thrilled with the $3000, but it’s kind of doable especially if I can work out a payment plan over 6 months. That is my hope. Then my little “Pollyanna Buster” voice says, “Don’t get your hopes up, sister!”
Another worry, trepidation, concern is how alone I feel in doing this. Wayne doesn’t like to talk about it. I just get, “You’ll research it and I will support you.” Steph and Sam aren’t around and they have their own problems. Friends are too far away, Yeah, I would talk adnauseum about it if I had the chance, but it’s how I deal with the fear and try to make choices. Actually, I know I can make the choice, it is a personal one anyway, but I also think about the day of the surgery and following. Historically Wayne is always “busy” when I need/want him. I feel I have to schedule around him all the time.
I just got the call that my CT scan is now scheduled for next Thursday January 10th at 8:45. So all will be in place for my pre-op appointment the following Monday. If I put aside all my doubts, this could actually happen by Valentine’s Day. I have a PEO program that I am supposed to give that day so, I am kind of hoping that it would work for the 15th. Of course if they could get it in sooner, I would go for it.
So now I just wait… going to purge my sewing room, now.