My Mum’s been staying with us since Friday because tomorrow she’s going in to have a cochlear implant, an actual bionic ear. I’m so immensely proud of her for going ahead with this, despite all of her fears and the potential risks. It’s major surgery, obviously risky for anyone, if they hit her facial nerve her face could sag permanently, the procedure destroys any residual hearing she has and at the end of it may not work at all anyway. And she’s worried about how she’ll look with ‘this thing’ stuck on the side of her head. It’s easy to dismiss some of her worries as vanity (and I have), but then it’s not MY head they’re drilling into, is it?
And yet, she’s doing it. I’m so glad. It could take up to a year for it to start working fully but the payoffs would be awesome. (If it works.) And they’re doing it in her worst ear which has barely any hearing anyway, so hopefully she’s not losing too much. Saggy face and lumpy processor on her head notwithstanding, of course.
So far we’ve been having a surprisingly good visit, only a little shouty and annoying. She’s enjoyed playing with Bianca, and even Sheldon the Aggressive Guard Parrot is in love with her. On Saturday I took her to one of my favourite places — Ikea! It wasn’t quite the road to Damascus-type conversion I was hoping for, but she did enjoy it and said the meatballs were nice. I wouldn’t know; Bianca would let me eat any of mine.
I’m either on Carer’s Leave or working from home this week. Thank you, Evil Empire, for being considerate! This afternoon I’ll drive her in to the Eye and Ear Hospital ready for her op tomorrow morning. She’s nervous, of course, and I’m glad that she’s here with me so I can give her hugs. Just for her of course, I’m not worried at all… :-)
The wikipedia article linked above claims the costs for a cochlear implant in the US are between $45k – $125k “some of which may be covered by health insurance”. But here in Australia the entire thing is free and covered by Medicare (in the UK it’s free under the National Health Service). I bitch a lot about being taxed up the wazoo and being forced to pay for expensive private health insurance for our family, (
rants posts to come) but I am so so grateful that we live here so Mum CAN have this done. Sure she had to wait over a year for her turn, but it’s here now and so far the care she’s been getting through the evaluation process has been wonderful.
So I’m very grateful, and hopeful too.
One part of the article was amusing. It says:
The discovery that electrical stimulation in the auditory system can create a perception of sound occurred around 1790, when Alessandro Volta (the developer of the electric battery) placed metal rods in his own ears and connected them to a 50-volt circuit, experiencing a jolt and hearing a noise “like a thick boiling soup”.
Which made me laugh pretty damn hard. You have got to love the enquiring scientific mind. “I’ve just made this really cool invention, I wonder what will happen if I stick it in one of my orifices?” I suppose we should be happy he chose to stick the electrodes in his ears instead of attaching them to his knob.
Or should I say as well as, since Wikipedia does not record where else he may have inserted them. Presumably the results were not as good.