For twenty-two years Ben was able to function with regular in the ear hearing aids. However, at 22 he had to change to more powerful, behind the ear hearing aids in order to function well. Then, after 13 years of wearing the more powerful behind the ear hearing aids, in the Fall of 2017 Ben recognized that something changed.
Last Fall, Ben noticed that he was having much more difficulty understanding people in more situations. He always struggled in noise, but he began to notice greater difficulty in even more frequent situations that used to be easier to understand.
After having a new hearing test done in March of this year at the University of Miami, Ben was referred to an Ear Nose and Throat surgeon for consideration as a candidate for a Cochlear Implant. In June, Ben was evaluated and given a series of tests.
The hearing tests showed his hearing had deteriorated from moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss to severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. What is even more dramatic is the ability to understand speech. In Ben’s left ear, he has the ability to understand 10% of what he hears in silence, in moderate noise it drops dramatically. Furthermore, a CT scan in June of this year revealed the cause for the dramatic drop in speech discrimination and the deterioration of the hearing. Ben was diagnosed with a condition called Mondini Dysplasia.
Mondini Dysplasia is a condition that will cause Ben’s hearing to continue to deteriorate and is only treatable with a Cochlear Implant. At this time Ben is a candidate for this life-changing treatment only in his left ear. However, in a few years - it is likely that Ben will need a second implant in his right ear.
Without the Cochlear Implant, Ben’s ability to understand speech will continue to deteriorate and dramatically limit his ability to function in his calling as a pastor. In fact, Ben’s life has already been impacted negatively in that he no longer teaches Bible Studies, nor is he able to attend large ministry functions or pray with people at the conclusion of worship. Furthermore, Ben’s relationship with his wife and children has become challenged due to inability to understand in many situations which they find themselves.
A Cochlear Implant is an expensive treatment, but has the potential to restore almost “normal” hearing and dramatic improvement in speech discrimination. The cost for the testing, surgery, implant device and the therapy that follows implantation has an estimated cost between $75,000 and $100,000. Ben has won an appeal with his insurance company, but even though the treatment is approved, there are extensive costs that will need to be covered by Ben and his family.
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