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.

The proof I offered to /r/science this morning is here. There is also an album that I made a while ago when I just got out of surgery here.

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.

Comments: 368 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

lightshatter4 karma


Davedough5 karma

lol. Most people who stare at me in stores and such have a completely opposite reaction =)

SpiralHam3 karma

What's your opinion on Mountain Dew BAJA Blast?

Davedough3 karma

Tastes like monkey ass in a can

weaksauce222 karma

Jokes on you. Baja Blast doesn't come in a can. Well at least not here.

Davedough1 karma

Doh! And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling kids!

verbalsoze2 karma

You mentioned it was disorienting trying to stand up the first day of your hearing loss; how hard was walking and following your daily routine in the beginning? Also, does BAHA help those who become deaf in both ears?

Davedough3 karma

I was out of work for about a week because I was completely bed ridden. I couldn't walk or be trusted behind the wheel. My balance came back after then and I was still a little shaky, then it came back for good. I can still get dizzy easily, but its not a burden.

No, the BAHA requires one working ear because it sends the signal from the deaf side to the working side to simulate stereo hearing. You have to have one working cochlea in order for it to work.

iamrenata2 karma

i'm an interpreter and have seen very little deaf people with the baha. i think it's great, but how do you feel about a baby that is born deaf to be inplanted with the baha or with the cochlear? As you may know, the deaf community (those deaf since childhood) frown on it incredibly, how do you feel? If your kids were born or became deaf, would you implant them at a young age or would you give them the option to?

Davedough2 karma

This is a mentality that I honestly cant wrap my head around. I imagine it has to do with previously being able to hear, but if science has provided a way to allow you to function better than the means you were born with, why wouldn't you take it? Other career opportunities can open up and life in general wouldn't be so difficult.

I once saw a deaf couple in a department store completely frustrated with a clerk because all they were trying to do was return a pair of pants. The clerk had no idea how to communicate and they couldn't get their point across. If it weren't for me being able to fumble through some signs, they probably would have left frustrated. I just don't see how dealing with inconveniences in life like this can be looked at as something tolerable.

PowerTattie1 karma

......can you hear my thoughts?

Davedough3 karma

Yes, and that sounds fantastic. I'll send you a PM with the address so we can meet and... well... you know.

lampdev1 karma

Can you hear me now?

Davedough1 karma


sofer61 karma

Are you a wizard?

Davedough6 karma

No, but I play one on TV.