I am mostly deaf with a skull implant (BAHA) that allows me to hear. AMA
EDIT: I think I'm done for today 3 Hours in and the questions have tapered. I unfortunately have to get SOMETHING done at work today. Thank you everyone for the interest, this was actually really fun. I'll see if I can answer any straggler questions tonight when I get home.
After hijacking a thread in a thread posted to /r/science I was asked to do an AMA. Given that I answered a bit over a dozen questions in that thread, I'm doing what I didn't think I was really interesting enough to do... an AMA.
Here's the back story. 16 years ago, I awoke one day to find that the hearing in my left ear had disappeared completely. Long story short, I was diagnosed with Total and Sudden Sensorinoral Hearing Loss and left with single-sided deafness for a while. ENTs had no solutions for repair, so I just lived with it. It wasn't until about 3 years ago when I noticed my right ear began diminishing its hearing that I started to worry and pursue hearing aids. A small-town Audiologist suggested I research BAHA or Bone Anchored Hearing Aids because he believed I was a candidate. Much research later, I went through with the surgery and have complete restoration of hearing on my left side.
Some of the questions I was asked earlier:
iamtherockshow asks: Holy shit, that's amazing. Did it restore your hearing completely? It looks like they've drilled a microphone into your skull. Wow (sorry, this kind of things just completely blows my mind).
Answer: Well, it gave me about 75% capacity back. Truth be told, I wasn't completely deaf, but I have complete deafness on my left side and a bit less than 50% on my right side. This implant, which yes... is essentially a microphone drilled into my skull but not in the conventional sense, restored that.
They first start by inserting a titanium post into my skull about 4mm down. They had to carve out a bit of scalp (which I didn't realize there was so much muscle and cartilidge between the skill and the skin) in order to get optimum contact. Titanium is the only metal known to oseointegrate with bone and when inserted, will actually meld with the bone and become part of the body. Here is an album I took post surgery when I had the procedure done http://imgur.com/a/9jKtt The "microphone", if you will, is a receiver that vibrates at the same frequency that the bones in your ear vibrate at. This vibration resonates through your skull which your brain interprets as sound, thus restoring hearing. Since my cochlea (the nerve going from the ear to the brain) is dead, the only type of hearing I have that can be relied upon is conductive hearing... which this facilitates.
Jugg3rnaut asks: Why don't more people get this? What types of deafness can't be cured by this? How much does it cost? Does it cause any pain (say, a few months after the surgery)?
Also, if you ever wanted it removed permanently you'd then have an open hole in your head?
Answer: Not a lot of people know about it. Although the technology has been around since 1977, it has only become relatively popular in the US since the late 90s. I have been deaf for 16 years and every single ENT and Audiologist that I went to always said the same thing "Keep checking back, technology changes all the time". It wasn't until I went to a small town Audiologist that he mentioned BAHA to me and I started researching... this was last year.
My type of surgery is for people who have single sided sensorineural hearing loss. Meaning, the hairs in their cochlea are dead and are no longer processing the sound from one side of their head to the brain. They still have what is called conductive hearing though, which is sound that is amplified through the skull. What the surgery does is places the device on the deaf side to simulate hearing direction and vibrates the hearing signal through the skull to the other working cochlea on the other side of the head. It's not a solution that can work for everyone.
It cost me $1500 for the device, $600 for the anesthesia, $16,000 for the operation, of which all but $2500 was paid for by insurance. There was ABSOLUTELY zero pain after the surgery as the point of entry impacts a nerve directly on the side of the head. It was numb for the 3 months of healing and the numb zone gradually got smaller. I survived on nothing but a couple of tylonol the day after and had no residual pain afterwards.
If I wanted it removed, they would remove the post (it unscrews) and there would be a divot in my head where they carved out some of the muscle to get better bone connection, but that's about it. The skin would grow over the incision.
And that's just a few. So go ahead Reddit, destroy my work-day from any shred of productivity and ask me anything.
1 horse sized duck.
TL;DR - Hearing went out and now it's back because I'm a cyborg, ask me questions.