Jim B’s Story

Jim Buter

In February of 2010, I was working in my garage when I became unbelievably dizzy and sick at my stomach and my ear felt like it had water in it. After an hour of hugging the commode my wife had an ambulance transported me to the emergency room. They said I had an ear infection and severe vertigo and hospitalized me. In three days in the hospital, I received meds for vertigo and nausea and an IV but nothing for my ear though I begged for help from an ENT as I could hear nothing on the left side. Because it was a weekend, the nursing staff said I would have to wait until Monday to visit the ENT in his office. This was a critical mistake. By the time I saw the ENT on Monday, I was deaf in my left ear because there was not an ENT on call that weekend. To say I was devastated and infuriated is an understatement. I was disabled because an ENT was not available to be on call the weekend I was in the hospital.

Regardless of how I was afflicted or why, I became determined to find a way to beat this problem as I had problems almost everyday. I actually had someone in a store who had approached me from the left side actually ask me if I was being rude or just plain stupid, because I had not answered questions he had directed at my ear I could not hear from. Experiences like this caused me to pressure my ENT to refer me to a specialist and soon there after visited an ear clinic a 4-hour drive from our home. After two thorough examinations by two different doctors, I was told I was in fact permanently deaf on one side and none of the treatments the ENT had recommended would do anything to correct that. However, the doctors there suggested BAHA surgery as a solution.

I turned my anger over what had happened to me into determination to beat this. So, I did as much research as I could about this surgery, and about the specialists. The best source for me was actually a web-site in the UK for people like me, people who had already had surgery and had been fitted with hearing processors. These kind and well informed people who had been through this really helped me decide to try the surgery, until I made the mistake of watching a video of the surgery at Hartford Hospital which scared me to death. It appeared disfiguring, bloody, terribly invasive, and everybody would know as a large amount of hair had to be removed. So,I called the doctor and tried to cancel going forward. Fortunately, he convinced me to drive across the state to meet another patient like me and show me photos of the newer and much less invasive surgical style he used. She showed me her tiny scar and the abutment behind her ear under her short haircut, how her processor snapped on it, and convinced me the doctor could hide one in my hair too using his new surgical style. To this day, I wish I had written down her name, because to me she was an angel in disguise. In fact, Today, I try to repay her for her kindness by being as good of a counselor to others like us.

I agreed to surgery and tested two different brands of sound processors on a temporary head-band. A week later I had outpatient surgery and a bone-anchored abutment implanted behind my ear. My one inch long incision was completely hidden by my hair and after a couple days of slight bleeding was able to play sports and pursue all my normal activities except I still could not hear on one side. Now I endured the longest two months of my life…waiting for my head to heal so I could get my receiver, but when I did it was like a new day…I got back part of my hearing.

Though I’ll never hear like I did with two ears, I function much better now with my BAHA and I do whatever I can to counsel other SSD people like me to have the new style surgery and carefully evaluate sound processors and choose the one they like best. If someone asks, I’ll tell them all the reasons why I prefer the Ponto Power which I now have, but I believe every patient deserves their own choice.  Anyone who wants to know more or needs someone to talk to, is welcome to contact me through Melissa.

All my best,
Jim Buter

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