I was born with hearing loss. My deaf babysitter told my mother at 2 years old that I was deaf. I was fit with a hearing aid at KU Medical Center and learned to speak and hear pretty well. If it had been two years later, my language development would have been much poorer. I had an 85 db loss and my hearing was stable until I was 32 years old. The Meniere’s attacks hit me hard at the age of 32 years old for one year. It started with one episode every month, then every 3 weeks, then every 2 weeks. I went to several incompetent ear, nose and throat doctors, who did not know anything about Meniere’s.
My audiologist referred me to Dr. Luetje, who put me on a strong medicine routine for a year, gradually decreasing the medication as the Meniere’s episodes got weaker and longer between attacks. My hearing dropped to 95 db loss with 10 to 25% speech discrimination range. At the age of 35, my Meniere’s was nonexistent except for some rare episodes due to allergies. I took stress multi-vitamin with 100 mg of niacin every day. At 45 years old, I got my first digital hearing aid, which restored my speech discrimination back to 25%. At the age of 53, my hearing deteriorated to 105 to 110 db loss with 5% to 10% speech discrimination.
At 54 years old and on June 14, 2007, I got a cochlear implant in the ear where I do not wear my hearing aid. Since my activation on July 2, 2007, it has been a very slow learning-to-hear process and may take several months before I will be able to have good speech discrimination. The CI had no impact on my Meniere’s, dizziness or balance.
Interestingly, I forgot completely about my Meniere’s episodes as I did not have any for the past several years. I have a 12 year old son. We have had season passports to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for the past 6 years, where we ride a lot of coaster rides. I am rarely dizzy even after the rides. Dr. Luetje said the coaster rides indicate that my balance and dizziness are in pretty good shape in relationship to my Meniere’s. However, I do have a slight balance problem when walking up and down stairs and ladders. So, I have to use hand rails at all times.
Leonard Hall — Olathe, Kansas