So last Thursday I woke up feeling rough. I’d been really ill the day before and was suffering from some serious migraines as well. But fortunately for me, I had a lift to the hospital with the fabulous Dollar who came along to help out with the small one and do the driving duties. I had been told that I shouldn’t drive for 2 hours post appointment, and as the hospital is some 20 odd miles away, I figured I needed a hand!

I had two appointments, one after other. 5 stars to the CI team at Selly Oak for giving me appointments on the same day to avoid me travelling too much. Finding child care, getting back home in time to pick my big girl from Pre-School, plus generally having support with me, means that doing some appointments all in one has been a huge help.

Upon arrival, feeling very flustered indeed as I was 30 minutes late despite leaving 1.5 hours prior to the appointment (for a normal 45 minute trip) due to terrible traffic, I was introduced to the lovely lady and man who were going to do my tests. The first one was the one I was absolutely dreading, the one where they were going to test my balance.

I always had bad balancing skills when I was younger. A simple roly poly on the floor could make me dizzy for ages. I remember being about six or seven years old in P.E one day at school and being made a fuss of me when I managed to walk across the balance beam for the first time unaided. I can remember it clearly as it just so happened that my Mum (who was working at the school at the time) was passing the hall at that precise moment and saw me do it! I remember seeing her beaming at me with pride as it was quite an achievement :-D

I was 11 years old when I finally had some balance tests. We are talking more than 15 years ago to be fair, but goodness me it was torture! I was in London and they were trying to find out exactly what it was that was causing my deafness. I was sat on a chair and spun around really really fast, stopped suddenly and the doctors would peer into my eyes. Repeat as necessary, several times. After this, with my head spinning, I had to walk in as straight line as I could, turn round on the spot and do various other activities. I imagine they were looking to see how long it took me to regain my balance, and what my eyes did when dizzy to get more information as to what was going on. 

I suffered frequent severe Vertigo attacks as a child, which made me very sick and I was confined to bed for days at a time. As I got older each time I had one, I lost a bit more hearing in quantity or quality each time. The attacks are far less frequent now, I’ve been told that as my hearing gets worse, the attacks lessen and perhaps even one day, when I don’t have them anymore it’ll be because my hearing has gone completely. I don’t know for sure what the real case is, or what will happen eventually, but it does make sense and does install a little bit of fear into me.

So you can imagine, that I was feeling a little bit nervous about being made dizzy, and scared that I’d be swung around on some spinning chair again. And you can then imagine my relief when I was told it’d be nothing like the sort!

I had to lie down on a very comfortable looking bed which was black leather and big enough for two! I then had to wear a huge visor over my eyes which I fear made me look a little bit like Darth Vader. The visor had had a camera inside which would then watch the reaction in my eyes to the test, which would be completely natural as the brain couldn’t use the eyes to focus on anything. It needed to be completely dark inside the visor, and unfortunately I have a funny shaped nose or cheek it seems, and had to stick some tissue up into a gap to hide the light peeping in! I then had warm water pumped into one ear for 30 seconds and I had to keep my eyes open so the camera could record what was happening.

Did you know that if water is pumped into your ear, and hits your eardrum for an amount of time, it can affect your balance? Even though I couldn’t see a thing, the room was spinning! It was horrible and very unpleasant. I couldn’t see a thing, couldn’t hear anything and was told to count in twos for as long as I could, to keep my brain occupied so it wouldn’t try to imagine something I could see for the eyes to focus on. Oh, and the lady said the water would be warm, 7 degrees warmer than my body temperature she said. I am someone who has lukewarm baths, I am someone who doesn’t like the summer, I am somebody who does not get cold easily. That water was HOT!

She did the procedure for both ears, and then again for my left ear as it was established some light had been peeping through the first time. (More tissue was henceforth stuffed). I asked what they had been able to see, and I was shown some demo videos of other tests been done. It is really creepy what you can see, the eyes dart to the left and the right at various speeds. Apparently mine was quite fast, but the good news is that the eyes reacted equally to the tests on both ears despite my history of balance problems through vertigo. I understand that this is a good thing, as the operation for the CI has a small risk of increasing balance difficulties, so if your balance is bad to start with, it’s something they need to discuss with you. If it’s ok, then the risk is going to be fairly minimal. So Yay!

The second test was the auditory hearing test where I had three small pads placed behind each ear and in the centre of my forehead which would pick up nerve readings when putting sounds into my ears. I then had to lie on the comfy bed again, close my eyes and they’d switch the light off. I had to relax as much as I could and guess what – she even said that if I fell asleep then that would be great! I don’t think I did fall asleep, but the baby had been up all night and I was very tired, so the rest was very welcome, it was certainly an easy task compared to the dizzy test! It took about 20-30 minutes, and I did not have to do a thing. The lady said that I might hear some clicks during the process but I didn’t hear them, I can’t remember the last time I had that much peace and quiet!! The results, apparently were just what they’d expect from someone with my level of deafness, so I guess that means my normal hearing tests show an accurate record of what loss I have.

This morning, I received a letter. My final assessment appointment is on the 9th December. This will be when they evaluate all the reports with me and say YES or NO. Eeeeeeeeeek! I’ll let you know the outcome of course :-)