Eman’s Story: ‘I Have Myself Back’

eman-hammadBy Eman Hammad

I started to lose the hearing in my left ear when I was 16. I began wearing a hearing aid when I was in my last year of high school, around 17. Every year my hearing was getting worse. I kept changing my hearing aid, but eventually, I couldn’t hear anything in that ear. The hearing aid didn’t even help. And after a couple more years, I started to lose hearing in my right ear, too.

I kept to myself because I felt like I couldn’t connect with people anymore. I couldn’t hear people very well. I could tell they were laughing and talking, but I didn’t know what they were talking or laughing about. I’m a very social person. I love to go out. But I even quit my studies at the university in Saudi Arabia because I couldn’t hear well. It was ruining my life.

I went to so many doctors — in Saudi Arabia where I was living and then in Turkey. I couldn’t find out the reason for losing my hearing. And every year it kept getting worse. The doctors didn’t know why it was happening.

‘We’re going to Rush’

I came to the United States about five years ago on a scholarship to study advertising at the Illinois Institute of Art. While I was here, my brother researched the best doctors for me. He found an ear, nose and throat doctor who specializes in hearing loss, Dr. Mark Wiet. My brother said, “We’re going to Rush.”

When I met with Dr. Wiet, he just looked at my eyes, and he said, “I’m going to order a genetic test for you.” And then after we did the testing, he found out that I have advanced osteogenesis imperfecta. It causes hearing loss, among other issues. He just looked at my eyes, and he figured that out.

Because of the osteogenesis imperfecta, the color of my eyes is different. Instead of being white, the area around my pupil is blue-gray. That’s one of the signs of osteogenesis imperfecta. I went to so many doctors and nobody had known.

Help with hearing loss

Osteogenesis imperfecta causes problems with my bones, so I also see Dr. Sonali Khandelwal in rheumatology on a regular basis. Whenever she asks if she can bring in residents to check out my eyes, I always let her know that as long as they’re good looking, it’s fine with me. ☺

Even though the condition is something I’ll live with the rest of my life, just finding out what was going on with me was such a relief. And after Dr. Wiet put in a cochlear implant to help my hearing loss, I really got back my confidence. I started to go out by myself and go clubbing. I love, love dancing so much. I feel now like finally, I have myself back.

Don’t Give up on Treating Your Sleep Apnea

By Phillip S. LoSavio, MD

As an otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon who is head of the Section of Sleep Surgery at Rush, I meet with many sleep apnea patients who have been suffering with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) for years and sometimes decades.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to have intermittent blockage of their throat while sleeping at night. This leads to poor quality sleep and even decreases in nighttime blood oxygen levels in severe cases.

One cannot help but have empathy for these patients. All of us know what it feels like to have a poor night’s sleep from time to time, but it is hard to imagine what it might be like to go through life like that day in and day out.

Some of my patients say they are afraid to go to sleep, concerned they may stop breathing and not wake up. The first thing I explain to my patients is that there are many options available. I’m not going to give up on them, and they shouldn’t give up on themselves.

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From the Archives: Snake Surgery, 1983

By Nathalie Wheaton

In this January 1983 photo, otolaryngologist David D. Caldarelli, MD, left, and his medical team are shown treating an unusual patient.

Flame, a five-foot, poisonous African cobra snake from the Brookfield Zoo, was suffering from mouth cancer.

Despite coming to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center fully anesthetized, doctors had to work carefully around her venomous fangs. The operation was a success and Flame went back to her “normal snake behavior.”

Nathalie Wheaton is assistant archivist in the Rush Archives. Visit the Rush Archives Web page or explore our collections. The Rush Archives welcomes visitors from Rush and the general public. To learn more, please contact rush_archives@rush.edu.

Why Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer

By Max Pitlosh, MD

Unfortunately, in America we have gotten in the habit of giving antibiotics for ear infections, and for the vast majority of patients, they expect antibiotics to be prescribed.

There has been evidence for over a decade in Europe and Canada that supports pain relief over antibiotics for children with ear infections, and that has been their practice. There is a difference between what society and tradition say we should do — which is to prescribe the antibiotics — versus what the latest scientific information tells us to do: ease the symptoms.

For sinus infections, the evidence is very similar to ear infections. The treatments of choice for a sinus infection are decongestants, pain relievers and using a humidifier along with a nasal rinse. Antibiotics may be used if the infection doesn’t respond. But it can be difficult to determine whether a sinus or ear infection is due to a virus that won’t respond to antibiotics or a bacterial infection that might. Continue reading