Monday, June 9, 2014

Considering going bilateral

The last several months, I have thought of going bilateral... Getting my right ear implanted.  I do like the bimodal approach I've got going right now, but still find myself struggling to make sense of what I am hearing, especially noisy situations.  And I am still very highly dependent on visual support.  I feel if I get the right ear implanted, that I could possibly do better.  Hear better.  And there is also the possibility that getting the implant may possibly help with the tinnitus that I've had going on in my right ear for as long as I can remember.  If I don't have my hearing aid on, then I end up with a bunch of ringing/buzzing/whatever in the right ear, and it drives me crazy.  The hearing aid drowns out the tinnitus sounds for the most part, but from time to time even the tinnitus will be too loud that the hearing aid doesn't help.

I have emailed my audiologist, and she just got back to me today, basically saying it could be possible for me to go bilateral with Medicare coverage.

I spoke with Dr. ***** and I think we can get it covered if you want to pursue a 2nd implant.  Medicare rules state that you must be able to meet their qualifications with your current implant – and since we implanted your poorer ear; I think you would meet their guidelines.  Let me know if you want to pursue a 2nd implant.

 Since I had my bad ear (dead ear) implanted, there's a good chance I will meet Medicare's CI coverage criteria and they will cover it.  When I first sent the clinic an email regarding the possibility of going bilateral, the office person right off the bat said the clinic did not do bilateral implants for those who have Medicare coverage.  Which I thought was odd, since I was hearing from other implantees online who were able to get bilateral coverage with Medicare.  So I emailed my audiologist, and she spoke with the surgeon about this, and got back to me saying it is possible.  Medicare does not say anything about bilateral implantation in their criteria, does not say they only do unilateral implantation, that sort of thing.  And just knowing there are other adults who were able to get the second implant coverage, I knew there was a possibility it could be possible for me as well.  But of course, had to contact the clinic/audiologist and have them do some research and discussing.

It would be nice if I could get the second implant done this summer, before school starts up again in September.  But who knows if that would be possible.  In the meantime, I will keep in touch with my audiologist, and discuss this with my family, and consider my options.

I just feel like I would do better if I had bilateral implants, and was able to take full advantage of all the new features available with the Naida CIs from Advanced Bionics.  They have UltraZoom, which I've heard is handy for noisy situations, and they even have bilateral features as well.  A single implant processor wouldn't be able to use UltraZoom, one would need to be bilateral to take advantage of that feature and DuoPhone, and some of the other features.  My hearing aid audiologist had to call Phonak and get help with creating a specific program on my Naida hearing aid for noisy situations, since I couldn't use the Zoom features since I only had one hearing aid.  So if I went bilateral, I think that would open up my world even more and give me more opportunities to take full advantages of the current new technology, and improve my hearing more.

It's a lot to think about, for sure.  But I am indeed seriously considering going bilateral.  My implant picks up on more sounds that my hearing aid doesn't pick up on (clock ticking, and other random little sounds like that).  Just on Saturday, I was over at my mom and stepdad's house, talking to my mom, and I realized I was hearing a clock ticking in the living room.  I removed the headpiece for a few minutes, and couldn't hear it with the hearing aid.  I'm just amazed with what cochlear implants can do.  Been a bit more than 2 years, and there are always new sounds I encountered that has me amazed at the technology available, and wishing for more.


Paige said...

I say do it!!!! I LOVE being bilateral. So much better than hearing aids. Have them go ahead and send a preauth to see if your insurance will for sure cover it then go from there? Ps you would be able to get a Naida for each ear this way! ;)

CDM said...

Medicare doesn't do pre-authorizations. I'm seriously considering toting for it, just have to talk to family, and figure out transportation and such. A lot of travel involved, which kind of sucks but that's what I get for living in the state of Wyoming. :)

Sarah Purdy said...

There's a lot of research out there that supports the bilateral implant. Have you spoken to Wendy at WY Hands & Voices? I think she's got two children with bilateral implants and might be a good contact person for questions. I think you've definitely got a case since you rely on your auditory skills so much in the work place. I know auditory training can be a pain with the second one - you have to take off the first implant to help train the new side, but you probably had to do that with your HA anyway when you got the first implant. Good luck!

CDM said...

I do know of Wendy and her kids. I noticed they upgraded to the latest AB processors at WYHI, which is pretty neat.

Didn't really have to keep my hearing aid off when I got the implant. I tried to, but tinnitus got bad enough that I needed to put my hearing aid back on to drown it out. Audiologist told me not to worry about it much, just try to get some CI only practice in when I can. But I will definitely be able to take left CI off for a bit to practice with right CI, no tinnitus in left ear! :)

thatdeafgirl said...

I'd say go for it! If I had the option now, even though I barely wear my CI I would go for a second CI. But because I am 14 years post implant I don't think i'd benefit from it as well as I hope too. A second CI is not an option right now due to NHS rules