Monday, February 01, 2010


You might be dreaming up images of white sandy beaches when you read that word (OK, so the place in California might be spelled "Baja", but the sound is the same...) That once unknown-to-us word (or, more accurately, acronym) has become the centre of much research in our house.

The story begins last April, when Steve came down with a bad case of flu-like symptoms. Shortly followed severe ear pain which prompted a trip to the clinic, a course of antibiotics, severe dizziness and illness, another trip to the prompt-care, including IV fluids and antibiotics and culminating in a deafness in one ear, which we hoped would dissipate with the resolving of the virus. Unfortunately for Steve, it did not. Unbelievably, the virus attacked his auditory nerve and permanently destroyed it, leaving him 100% deaf in his left ear. Not only can he not hear from that ear, but he has constant, loud, jet-engine tinnitus (TIN-i-tus) ringing that drives him crazy on a good day. After a lead on an option called the BAHA from his ENT, we began to research.

A Bone Anchored Hearing Aid is a remarkable newish assistive device. It relays the sound from his left side (the deaf side) through the BONE in his skull so that he can hear those sounds on his right side. It involves a short operation, during which a titanium post is screwed into his skull. The post fuses with his bone and becomes a part of it after 3 months. Then a processor is worn on the post. The processor picks up the vibrations of sound and relays it through the bone where it the sound is then processed in the good ear. So, in actuality, Steve will be hearing (hopefully) all the sounds a normal person hears, but in one ear! Technology is remarkable!

We are hopeful that this will help him hear more and also hopefully alleviate some of the tinnitus. We are grateful that we live in a place where Steve is able to receive this procedure and device. As it is a fairly new procedure in Canada, it is not covered by OHIP. However, the hospital where we went today covers the procedure because of experimental grant money they receive from the government. Steve is a great candidate and so has been approved for one of the twenty surgeries they are able to do each year. The processor is not covered by any government agency and comes with a hefty price tag. However, we are hopeful that our insurance will cover most, if not all of the processor.
(These are pictures from this website...)
The process is worn on the skull. That will be an adjustment. It can be removed for showering and sleeping.

The sound travels through the processor and through the bone in the skull.

We remain hopeful that this will restore some of the things that Steve has been missing for the last many months. It will take 3-4 months on a waiting list for a surgery spot to come open for him. You can read more about the BAHA here.

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