It’s now official. I have just been diagnosed with depression for the first time in my life. Simply because of the frustration I’m having with lack of hearing, and lack of action in terms of ACC funding my new implant.
ACC is our Accident Compensation Corporation. When you have an accident in New Zealand, ACC covers the cost of any medical need you may have to treat injuries caused from that accident. Normally, my hearing is covered under the District Health Board funding, as my hearing loss isn’t caused by an accident. However, when the electrodes from my implant migrated out of the cochlea after surgery, rendering me profoundly deaf once more, this is termed a medical injury and is covered under ACC.
The hearing loss I’m dealing with is huge compared to when my original implant was up and working properly. I haven’t really heard properly except for a very brief window in 2008, for 18 months…. Going on 19 months but who’s counting?
Two months ago, when an x-ray was taken, we finally discovered that the electrodes had moved and so we applied for funding from ACC. I checked with them just before Christmas hoping I’d have an answer then – but it wasn’t to be. I was severely disappointed but they told me that they would have an answer early New Year.
ACC sent me a email yesterday (6th Jan) apologizing for the delay, explaining that it was a very ‘complex’ case, and they’ve now been advised to get an outside ‘independent’ opinion, so they have sent my case notes to Christchurch in the South Island to an ‘independent Cochlear Implant surgeon’. This is quite laughable as we’re not exactly a BIG country, and the implant surgeons in NZ is a very small club (boys network!!)
As for complex – I think they’re making it more complex than it needs to be. The electrodes have come out of the cochlea. They need to be put back in, maybe with new electrodes. What is complex about that?
They’ve given the surgeon 4 weeks to complete his report, and then it goes to their legal team which could be another 4 weeks. So I’m going to be profoundly/totally deaf for at least another 2 months.
Yes I’ve written to ACC and explained my case and displeasure of waiting so long – they’ve apologized but said there’s nothing they can do. I *can* go ahead with the surgery, pay for it myself, and they’ll reimburse me IF they accept the claim. That’s fine and dandy if I had some spare change in my pocket to the tune for $30k – but I don’t, and I resent the fact they think I might have!
I guess it’s because I’m the first person in NZ where electrodes have migrated out of the cochlear, so there’s some research for them to do, and some I dotting and t crossing! But in the process, they’ve forgotten that there’s a real person out there, struggling to cope with day to day hearing and living because of it.
My doc has put me on a low dose anti depressant. She’s been my doc since I was 17, and said it was admirable how I’ve overcome many struggles throughout my life, and that my mood has always been stable and happy. But it looks like this is one thing too much. She’s also concerned how I might feel if the operation doesn’t work, so hopefully by then the pills will be working and will help me through that process should the worse happen. Naturally, once things start moving and I get a date, I’ll probably be much happier, and if the switch on goes well and I hear again, then I can be weaned off the pills.
I took my first one this morning. I hate taking pills, but I have been warned that depression can spiral down further if not treated. I know I feel this way because I have no control over what is happening to me, and the doctor says that’s one of the main causes of depression – lack of control over things that are happening in your life.
A friend asked me to make sure I remember all the things I’m grateful for – so I’ll list some of them here.
I’m grateful for friends and family and their support
I’m grateful for the support I can get from SWC
I’m grateful for my bra because they stop me from tripping up over my boobs when knock against my knees, and stop me from getting black eyes when I’m out running!
I’m grateful for my fantastic implant team even though they can’t do a lot for me right now!
I’m grateful I still have a sense of humour even when I feel so sad.
I’m grateful for my cats who give my unconditional kisses, particularly when I’m whistling or singing!!! (Yep they’re actually trying to shut me up)
There – Now I’ll go and eat some more ice cream and chocolate.
by robyn carter in New Zealand