At last I got to see the consultant. My hearing was checked yet again and I was told:
1. I have what is classed as a mild hearing loss.
2. It is difficult to determine whether my hearing loss is caused by scarring and perforation of the eardrums due to infections or otosclerosis.
3. Without exploratory surgery (cutting open and peeling back the eardrum to get a look), there is no 100% accurate way to diagnose otosclerosis.
4. A CT scan can help to diagnose otosclerosis, but is not 100%.
5. My hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, and I am a good candidate for open-fit hearing aids.
6. Since we don't know if my loss is from otosclerosis or hardening of the eardrum, the stapedectomy surgery may not be of much help. (I made it clear, however, that I am not interested in the surgery, anyway, as a 3-5% chance of it resulting in profound deafness is WAY too high for me. He did not dispute those figures.)
6. There is no way of knowing how much my hearing loss will progress or how fast it will progress, but it will probably get no worse than 40-50dB (moderate hearing loss). So chances are I will never go deaf.
7. Hearing aids can help alleviate the stress associated with severe tinnitus.
So the outcome of my visit was:
1. I am being scheduled for a CT scan.
2. I am getting a pair of Siemens Acuris Life open-fit hearing aids, and I was assured I would have to wait no longer than 2-3 months for them. (The audiologist was going to fit me right then, right there, but the clinic was out of the ultra-thin tubing for the open-fit aids).
The Siemens Acuris looks like this:
And when worn, they look like this:
And if you squint you can see what the aid looks like from behind:
Even with my hair as short as it is right now (completely over the ears--it's super short!) the aids are virtually invisible. They are light as a feather. I will probably keep fumbling for them to make sure they haven't fallen off!
So that's good news. Finally, at last, after three years, I'm getting hearing aids. And the NHS is paying for them! (Technically they are property of the NHS, but even if I lose them I only have to pay £70 for replacement ones. And batteries are free! If I bought these from a shop, they would be £1500 and batteries £20. At last I'm getting some value for all the money I have paid into the NHS all these years!)
May all beings be at ease.