I had great hearing in both ears all throughout my childhood and early adult life. I don't remember having very many ear infections as a child and only remember having a few as an adult. I do, however, remember many instances of dizziness as a child.
I couldn't accurately describe these instances (hey, I was a kid) but would tell people that it felt like I was swinging over a great void, with the swing ropes going high up in the sky until they disappeared. It felt like someone outside of my body would push and spin this swing and I would just have to hang on for dear life. As a kid, I thought this was a really cool sensation.
Then, I grew up. That same feeling as an adult is just not fun. I didn't know that what I was experiencing was actually vertigo and something that would crop up off and on. Fast forward to the summer of 2000 and the vertigo came back full force the month of August.
We had been to CA to visit Ron's parents and the day day we were to return home, I had a pretty violent vertigo attack. I thought my neck was just out because the bed we'd been sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, so I had Ron give me an adjustment. That seemed to fix the problem and we headed on our way. While we were driving I had a couple more attacks. When we got to Albuquerque, NM I had the worst. I was in the middle of the bed and the whole room was violently spinning. I knew I wasn't going to fall but the feeling of free-falling in the air was so strong that I had Ron lie down next to me and hold on. It was not a good feeling.
By the time we got back to Kansas the attacks had subsided so I figured they must have been due to the altitude changes. I was fine for about a week and pretty much forgot about the vertigo. That is, until I woke up one morning about 3:00 AM and couldn't hear out of my right ear. My cheek felt a bit numb so I looked in the mirror to make sure I didn't have a stroke or Bell's Palsy (which paralyzes one side of your face). Since I looked normal, we decided to take a trip to the emergency room.
The doctor there didn't really do much except tell me that my Eustachian tubes were plugged from allergies. He gave me a prescription for steroid nasal spray and sent me on my way. The next day, I called my general practitioner and got an appointment. She did a hearing test and determined that I had no hearing at all in that ear. She tried to get me into see a specialist but the receptionist said he had no openings for the next eight weeks (that is an important fact to remember). The next doctor she tried was able to see me the next day.
Off to the doctor I go. He performed another hearing test with the same results. Then he asked me if I was diabetic. When I confirmed that I'd been diagnosed the week before, he patted me on the shoulder and said that was the culprit; diabetes can cause sudden hearing loss. He performed no other tests and told me, "You're deaf and just going to have to learn to deal with it. Come back and see me in three months."
When I checked out, I told the clerk that I was going to "deal" with my deafness and that I would not be back. Not much point in paying for an office visit if he was just going to tell me I had to learn to deal with it. I called my doctor back and she again referred me to the first doctor. The referral office must have gotten a different receptionist because she got me an appointment for the same day.
When I went to the second doctor, he took a detailed history from me and when he found out that I'd had sudden onset hearing loss he said he wished I'd come to see him when it happened. I said we'd tried but his receptionist said he was booked up for eight weeks. I could visibly see the expression on his face went to fully irritated. Evidently, his receptionists have been told that if someone calls in with sudden hearing loss, they're to be worked in within 24 hours. He said if he'd been able to see me, he probably could have saved part of my hearing. He had a treatment plan that involved a hospital stay and IV medications, including steroids, that said worked in 95% of the patients he used it on.
He ran a battery of tests and diagnosed me with Meniere's disease and sudden onset single-sided deafness (SSD). I was still having vertigo attacks so he recommended Gentamycin injections (also called a chemical labrynthectomy) to kill the balance nerve. The premise was that once the right side nerve was no longer functioning, the left side nerve would, in essence, pick up the pieces and do the work of both nerves. This did not work. I was no longer dizzy but I had no balance. I ended up walking with a cane for a long time.
Eventually the left nerve started working for both, but the right nerve wasn't completely dead - or it started to repair itself. As a result, I still have bad balance. I can fall over very easily. I walk into things. I stumble a lot. I can't walk and talk at the same time.
During all of this, I was fitted with CROS hearing aids. They work by taking sound being directed to the deaf side and feeding it to the good side. This meant that I had to wear full-size hearing aids in both ears. They bothered my ear canals so they took them back and made the internal part thinner. I still struggled to hear things around me and couldn't tell where sounds were coming from.
If I was on the phone, I could only hear the phone conversation. If I was listening to the television, or the radio, and someone started talking to me I lost both. I couldn't discern which conversation came from which direction and I'd lose both. This was very frustrating to me and to those around me. I would frequently lose my temper with my husband and tell him that I NEVER forgot I was deaf and that I would appreciate it if HE would try to remember. It wasn't nice of me but sometimes the frustrations would just boil over. By this time, I had quit wearing the hearing aids and was trying to cope just by watching people while they talked and asking people to speak up or repeat themselves.
I thought I was doing pretty good until it started affecting my job. I didn't realize I was missing stuff so didn't know to ASK people to repeat something. Even though I had said I couldn't hear, those around me (co-workers) didn't much go out of their way to make sure I heard something. If I'd ask if I missed something, I'd usually get told nothing important. Several of the people in my group would (and still do) congregate around someone else's desk and discuss work-related things. From where I sat, I couldn't see them and I couldn't hear them.
I started having severe dizzy spells again so my GP sent me back to the office where I'd had a good outcome. The doctor I'd seen then is now retired, but the new doctor who took his place is an excellent replacement. We discussed the vertigo and he told me I was an 'equal opportunity' person - I had two types of vertigo. The Meniere's disease and Bilateral Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). The BPPV he could fix with a procedure called an Epley Maneuver. This is a non-invasive positional treatment for which I'd return to his office to receive.
I asked him if there had been any advances in the treatment of SSD and the hearing aids available. He said that basically the CROS aids were still the only hearing aid choices, but there was a procedure that he could do called a bone anchored hearing aid/system (BAHA) but that insurance probably wouldn't cover it. We would have to get pre-authorization before we could even discuss it. He had the audiologist put the demo BAHA on my head to see if I would be a candidate.
I was amazed! I could not believe that I had hearing in my right ear and not just hearing that had been transferred to my left ear. I could HEAR on the right side. I could have cried I was so excited. I decided then that I would see what it would take to get it approved. The doctor's office sent a letter to our insurance asking permission to do the surgery and to see if they'd pay for it. It didn't take too long for us to get the approval to do so.
I was almost ready to schedule the surgery and then decided I'd make a call to the insurance company to find out exactly 'what' they were approving and paying for. They were paying "reasonable and customary" for the hospital bill ($30,000), the surgeon's fees, and the anesthesia fees. The device is $8500 and they were going to pay $600 because it's a "hearing aid" according to their code system. I protested and wrote a long letter explaining that it's really much more than an aid, that I don't have a functioning auditory nerve and felt like I should be allowed to use prosthetic coverage for it (which pays 80% of reasonable and customary). They turned me down.
I wrote an appeal letter. This time, I showed side-by-side comparisons of the BAHA and the Cochlear implant, which they cover as a prosthetic device (along with penile implants for impotent men). I explained that Medicare fully funds the BAHA as they've determined it is NOT a hearing aid because there is no hearing in that ear to aid. I showed how they both consist of an internal component and an external processor; I explained how they both work and how the sound is conducted. They said "no" again.
I wrote another appeal letter, going into more detail and providing URL links to support my statements. In the meantime, I decided I'd go ahead and schedule the surgery and just take my chances with insurance. After all, they were going to pay for the most expensive part of the surgery. About a week after I decided to schedule it, I got a letter from the insurance company and although they said the BAHA was still under the hearing aid benefit ($600), they would allow me to "just this once" use my prosthesis coverage for it. That means I'll only have 20% of what they determine to be reasonable and customary. That will save us thousands of dollars.
Surgery was this past Tuesday, August 2, 2011. Even though I had done a lot of research and asked a lot of questions, I was still not quite prepared for the site of my head after I took off the big bandage. It was U.G.L.Y. - very ugly. The doctor shaved off way more hair than I thought he would. My head is numb in a broader area than I thought it would be. And, it itches. Badly. Beneath the numb part. That makes it hard to scratch and get any relief. I've had a bad headache ever since Tuesday evening. I am trying to document what I feel and when I feel it so I can keep track of the changes.
Warning - this will contain pictures so don't look if you're squeamish.
Day of surgery: Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I arrived at the hospital right on time - 8:00 am. I expected to wait a little while because my surgery wasn't scheduled until 10:00, but I didn't expect to wait until 9:30! They could have had me arrive a bit later and still had plenty of time. I read an entire magazine and started on a 2nd one before they called my name.
I go back into the prep room and get the love little gown on, have the IV started, get all tucked into the bed, and THEN I have to go to the bathroom - again. Off to the little room I go, which ended up being a good thing because Ron and his ride had been late to arrive (they were supposed to get there at 9:30 but didn't get there until about 10:00). The volunteer who was working the check-in table came back to see if Ron could come see me, and the nurse said that they were ready for me in OR so he had to make it quick. Poor Ron, he was much more emotional and nervous than I was. We were both pretty amazed that I was as calm as I was, and I hadn't even had the IV cocktail they give you before surgery.
Once Ron left the prep room, the nurse injected the relaxation drugs into my IV and I started getting very relaxed and chatty. LOL! Once they got me into the OR and wanted me to move over to the operating table, I was very talkative. I've had that reaction to this particular concoction before. I got all settled on the operating table and they started to strap my arms down. Not really a good thing for me at that point, so I told them to just relax a bit, so they did tuck me in a bit looser. After that, someone stuck an oxygen mask on my face, which I hate, so I asked if it could be tilted a little off my mouth so only my nose was in the mask. That was acceptable. After a few minutes of breathing in the oxygen, someone said, "Here comes the good stuff." I immediately felt a bad stinging sensation going up my arm, and said, "Ouch! That burns!" The anesthesiologist said, "Sorry about that." I then said, "You could have warn..ed..me..." I was gone.
Woke up in the recovery room with that darn oxygen mask back on my face. I was determined to not panic so I told myself several times to just breathe in deeply and the oxygen mask would come off sooner. My throat was so dry and hurt. I knew the intubation had kicked my throat big time. The nurse asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10; I said 15. My head was absolutely THROBBING. So, I got a nice shot of Demerol and that put me out of my misery for a bit.
They decided I'd slept enough down there and it was time to seriously wake me up, so they started bugging me. LOL - not really; just talking to me until I was talking back. I asked for ice chips and got one spoonful. I had to go to the bathroom (had a whole IV bag of fluid go in; needed about that much to come back out!) and the nurse said I was going upstairs soon. They proceeded to take my vitals, put the oxygen mask back on, then took it off - all the while I'm seriously needing to go! Told them again I needed to get up to the bathroom and they said I was going to my room "soon." I was beginning to think not soon enough.
Finally got up to my room and they rolled me straight to the bathroom. Thank God! Then, the nurse walked me back to my reclining chair (no beds in the outpatient surgery area) and helped me get settled. I was ready for another shot of Demerol; pain level was back to 8 after the up/down and transfer. I stayed in the room for close to two hours and then they cut me loose to go home.
I didn't feel much like eating Tuesday night, so Ron fixed me some soup. Our friend, Chuck, took out the trash and then hauled the trash cart to the curb (Wednesday is trash pick-up day). He also cleaned up the bathroom floor where Maisey hadn't been able to hold it (luckily, they left her in the bathroom instead of in her box; too many hours to be in a kennel and would have been much hard to clean up) and had a couple of puddles.
My throat was hurting so much that I drank 2-3 cups of hot green tea.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Woke up during the night with a splitting headache. Took two of my pain pills and went back to bed for a little while. It was very hard to get my head comfortable because I had that huge dressing on the right side. But, I propped up a little bead pillow on the left side to try and even things out. It worked somewhat.
I tried to take things easy today so as to not overly exert myself. I've still got a terribly sore throat from the general anesthesia. I've had several cups of hot green tea, which helps but only for a while.
I was very shocked when I took off the big dressing to find so much of my hair missing. I "knew" they'd shave a bunch but I didn't think they'd shave quite this much. My head was really numb on the right side and I was concerned that it might not go away.
First post-op picture:
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Better today. I took fewer pain pills but I'm taking Benadryl every 4 hours for the itching. I cleaned up the kitchen and then had to rest for a while. LOL - that was surprising! I also took a shower and washed my hair. That was wonderful! It felt so good to have the water gently run down my head.
Day 2 picture:
Either I'm used to it or it doesn't look quite as bad tonight. I'm getting a little bit of stubble and it itches. The numbness isn't quite as bad (to the top of my head) so that's possibly a good sign.
Friday, August 5, 2011
I think I overdid it yesterday. I haven't felt my best today so I ended up taking a pain pill this morning. The itching may be (knock on wood) better today. I slept with no covering on the surgery site but I put a towel on my pillow to protect it. I did figure out a way to sleep a little bit on my right side without irritating the surgery site. I just had to crank myself forward a little bit and put the pillow more under my neck. I couldn't stay there very long but it did give my back and left side a break. I tend to sleep on my right side most of the time so it's been tough to not sleep that way. I'm still not sleeping well but I hope that is just a short-term issue.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Today, I finally feel better than pond scum. Since I have to go back to work on Monday, I needed to start feeling better. I slept better last night than I did Wednesday night or Thursday night. I had a period during the night where Ron said I sounded like I was in pain. I remember having a moment where I must have moved wrong and I remember saying that it hurt. The numbness seems to have moved down a little from the center part. That is promising.
I also went out without a head covering today. I may have gotten some looks but I didn't hear any comments. That's a good sign.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Went back to work today, although I wasn't sure I'd make it. I took a pain pill before I left and intended to take one with me but forgot it. Was glad to discover that I had extra strength Tylenol in my purse. I did manage to stay all day, and really put in a fair day's work. I earned my keep today. The department was pretty quiet. We have one on vacation and the supervisor was also out today. She'll be back tomorrow and Wednesday, but out again Thursday and Friday. I've got enough stuff to keep me busy that I won't even notice that she's gone.
I got my head coverings in the mail today. One of the gals I work with is a cancer survivor and she brought me in to borrow, so I wore it around the building today. Back in my little area, I just left my head bare. I made sure my immediate co-workers were OK with how it looked before I just shocked them with it.
No picture today as there's not much change from over the weekend. The numbness has definitely receded a bit. Now, I have definite tender parts that were numb before. I prefer the tender parts because I know that the numbness is going to go away. I have a spot below the yellow dressing that hurts like hell. Hurts to touch it and hurts to push the yellow dressing back down on it. I certainly hope it improves before my doctor's appointment on Thursday. I can't image how it will feel to get the dressing changed as bad as it hurts right now.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Saw the surgeon this morning and he was very pleased. He took out my sutures and said that everything looks very good. The area is bigger than I thought it would be and he assured me that it would clear up and shrink as it healed. He actually said that he could leave the dressing off but I hadn’t brought a cap with me today (forgot to grab it) so asked him to go ahead and re-dress it. He told me to put Bacitracin on it once daily but I think I’ll continue with the twice daily application. That way, if any rubs off in my sleep then I’m still covered during the day.
This week has gone very well. I’ve had a fair amount of pain but nothing terrible. Pain is such a subject thing… One person’s misery is another person’s mild irritation. I’m not in severe pain but enough that I still need some medication at night and sometimes, just sometimes, one pill during the day. He gave me another prescription so I think that will do the trick. It did burn quite a bit when he removed the sutures and, since I did flinch a bit, he said I just have a more sensitive head than others.
One of the other things he said was that the subcutaneous tissue I had was not as thick as some others that he’s seen so my “dent” doesn’t look as bad as some of the picture I’ve seen on the Internet and on the BAHA forum. That is nice. I had him take a picture for me but since he wasn’t familiar with my camera, it didn’t turn out too well.
Ron thought it looked really raw, but it's not as bad as the picture indicates. It could be worse. I don't have a big dent, so that is good. This picture was taken before he took out the stitches. I guess next week's picture will look different - better, I hope.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Well, I had my 2nd post-op visit this morning. I had been noticing some changes under the bandage this past week and I haven't been very happy about it. I was worried that I was developing a separation where the skin graft is sewn to the rest of my head.
Those worries were confirmed when the doctor took the white healing cap and dressing off this morning. He said some of the internal sutures have dissolved sooner than expected and, as such, are causing the skin graft to separate. This has me really a bit afraid. I've read on the BAHA forum where someone had to have revision surgery and the prospect of that scares me.
I felt him working on it this morning and the nurse actually held my head down at one point. I didn't feel pain, per se, but I felt some burning and a pulling sensation in my scalp. I took a picture with my phone at work and it didn't took too badly (the white stuff is antibiotic cream).
Tonight, I decided I'd take my camera in and see if I could get a better picture. I'd been all day without any dressing and although I took the cap off, my hair still got tangled up in the cream.
I nearly cried when I saw this in the reflection:
The hole looks worse enlarged so only click on it if you really want to see a close-up.
I'm back on Keflex 500 mg 3x day for 7 days and I'm to put Bacitracin on it daily for 10 days. He said I could shower and wash my hair normally, then put the medicine on it. I'm to not cover it, especially at night, because trapping the moisture inside could cause the skin graft to die. He said it will be ugly for at least a couple more weeks. I go see him again on September 1 so I hope it's looking better by then. I just feel sorry for the people who walk behind me. There's just no way for me to hide it. I am not supposed to block the air from circulating around, which is supposed to help the healing. My neck is really stiff. It's hard to find a comfortable position for it. Hopefully, this won't last much longer.
Ron said to not worry, but when you've got something that looks this bad and no way to hide it, it's hard to not worry. I don't want a big hole in my head or for my skin to rot away. The thought is frightening.
Friday, August 19, 2011
I slept pretty well last night. I put a piece of fleece on top of my pillow so I'd have a smooth surface for my head to rest against. I had some drainage during the night, but nothing terrible. After my shower this morning, I put a good amount of Bacitracin in and around, just like the doctor advised me to and then I left it alone all day.
Tonight, I had some more drainage and the Bacitracin looks discolored - a bit greenish. I'm afraid that is indicative of infection. I'm concerned but will do the antibiotic tomorrow like instructed and take my antibiotic capsules. If it looks worse by Sunday, I'll call the on-call physician and see what they want me to do. I don't want to get an infection to settle in there. I know how badly staph can be and how quickly it can spread.
This is tonight's picture. I think it might look a bit better than yesterday's, but I'm not sure.
I'm going to take a picture every day to track the progress and to make sure that everything is doing OK. There is a retired nurse who lives in our complex so I might have her look at it tomorrow (if she doesn't mind) and see what she thinks.
Until then, I'll be praying for healing and for the fear to go away. God is not the author of fear and I am confident that He will be with me.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I hadn't taken a picture tonight, but I took one this morning and planned to use it for tonight's post. Ron says it looks better. I'm still not sure. I put myself on a couple of prayer lists, so I know that things will change. I just couldn't stand not knowing, so I took myself into the bathroom and took a picture.
The goopy stuff is (I hope) Bacitracin from this morning. I gently wash it but I don't know if I'm really getting it clean. I don't know what I should do at this point. Wash it again and then add some more medicine, or leave it alone and wash it in the shower in the morning... I just don't know. I don't want to irritate the skin but I don't want to go to bed with goopy stuff that needs to be washed out.
I don't see the doctor until September 1.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
First of all, I want to thank you all for reading and commenting here. Just knowing that I may be helping even one person makes all this worthwhile. So, I thank you. To those of you going through the same journey, or getting close to jumping on this journey, my thoughts and prayers are with you for success, healing, and HEARING!
Pictures from the last couple of days don't show too much improvement. The redness is less, but I think there may be some other separation near the post on the area towards my ear.
|8/21/11 in the morning|
|8/22/11 in the evening|
I really pulled my hair up out of the way to show two things - one, how fast it is growing; and, two, to show where the numbness is. The entire area that is shaved is pretty much where the total numbness exists. It's actually a little higher on my head and it's not numb between the wound and the back of my ear. It's also not numb at the bottom of the wound. In fact, that spot definitely has feeling. Pain. That's a feeling, right?
I think the hole is less red, but not any smaller. There seems to be a hole under the post and another towards my ear. If you look at the post as a clock, one is at 6-7 o'clock and the other at 4-5 o'clock (but closer to the outside edge of the wound).
I'm trying to gently wash the area each morning when I shower and then pat dry. I'm not sure how intense I'm supposed to try and get the residue off above the post. When I washed this evening, it looked like it irritated the area. I'm going to shower tonight and wash again, and this time go to bed without any additional Bacitracin on it. I'm supposed to use it for 10 days (which will be 5 more days). I just don't know what the junk is that's hanging there. Is it Bacitracin, or is it drainage, or is it infection? I just don't know.
I'm not afraid but I am a bit concerned about the holes and the "ick" stuff. I will take pictures again tomorrow but will probably not post an update for a couple of days. Hopefully, there will be some noticeable difference.
I hope. And, pray for myself as well.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Well, it's been over one week since I posted. I didn't intend to stay away so long, but it just happened. A lot has happened since last Tuesday. My mom's birthday was the 27th so we went to KC to see her; my birthday was the 29th and we went to dinner. Yesterday was my youngest grandson's birthday (he turned 1) and since they live half-way across the country, we did Webcam video with him.
I've been taking pictures and keeping up with how the healing is progressing. Th numbness hasn't changed much but the itching has. It's worse. Today, I thought I was going to pull my hair out. Oh wait... I don't have any hair there to pull out!
Pictures from the past week:
August 26, 2011:
August 27, 2011:
August 30, 2011:
Today, August 31, 2011
There is a very big improvement, but still quite a way to go before total healing. Sometimes I look at these pictures and can tell what a long way it has come. Other times, I look at it and just say, "how gross!"
I look at myself some days and wonder just what the hell I was thinking! Why in the world would I want to put myself through all this crap, stick a SCREW in my skull, and have my head shaved (yeah, vanity speaking there), put up with the numbness and the itching...
Oh yeah... for a chance to hear again. That's why.
September 17, 2011
It's been a while since I've posted. There's not been too much happening. I've been taking some pictures and not really seeing too much different. I can tell that it is healing but I can also tell there are still areas that are very tender. Under the numbness, my skull still feels tender in places. I think the numbness does not cover quite as big of an area, or I might be just wishing. No telling for sure.
I can sleep on my right side now. That is a great feeling. I don't spend my whole night on my right side, but I do sleep part of the night there. I'm really like a flippin rotisserie - rotating back to left to back to right to back, etc. I've hooked my comb in the "screw" a couple of times and it is kind of painful. Not bad, but enough that I've noticed.
I go back to see the doctor this coming Thursday. I'm going to put a bunch of the pictures together into a collage (of sorts) so that I don't have to list so many of them separately.
Stay tuned.... I will find out on Thursday when I get my processor.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Wow - it's really been over a month since I posted. I didn't have a whole lot to say. The skin graft is healing slowly. My last appointment with the doctor went well but my hair was starting to grow around the post. He asked me to keep it trimmed back, so I've done my best to do that. I've been using some little manicure scissors so I don't hurt myself. I did manage to stab myself just a tiny bit and because I can't feel anything there, I didn't realize it until I cleaned the area a bit later and brought back blood.
I need another trim but I'm hesitant to try to do it myself again.
The big news is I get my processor this Friday, November 4! My appointment is at 8:30 in the morning and I'm hoping that by 10:00 I'm up and running.
Here is a picture from this morning. This is how my head has looked for quite a while now.
It's not bad looking but still very tender. When I sleep at night I can sometimes feel the post and that makes it a bit more difficult to get comfortable. The numbness has receded a lot but I still have a big area that feels like it's someone else's head when I touch it. I've gotten used to how it feels most of the time. I don't like it, but I'm used to it.
My next update will be with the processor! Stay tuned for news!!!
November 1, 2012
Hard to believe that it's been nearly a full year since I've updated this page. It's been a challenging year. I've been up and down as far as the processor goes. The big question is "would I do it again?" and I have to honestly say that at times I'm not sure what my answer would be. I'm in the 1% who has had trouble with hair re-growth around the graft area. I've had more than one infection around the post which as been attributed to hair regrowth. Because Ron doesn't have good vision and even less hand control, he can't check the post to see if I have any hair growth wrapped around the post. I've had my son check it a couple of times and my daughter (both times though were after I'd been on antibiotics and not until after I found out that I was actually regrowing hair). With that in mind, and knowing that I don't have a real strong support system to help me keep track of that, there are times when I might rethink my decision.
But, the ability to hear outweighs those instances. It is so nice to be in a car and be able to hear conversations behind me and to hear if a siren is coming at me from the front, side, or behind. It's made driving much better in that respect. I have had to adjust the type of glasses I wear because the ear piece intereres with the processor but that's a small inconvenience, too.
Even though I can't "hear" out of my right ear, the processor gives me the feeling that I am hearing out of both ears and for that reason alone, I would do it again.