5/17/19

Ear surgery helps Rantoul mother’s tears stop flowing

Carle Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT), Audiology and Hearing Services move to Carle Outpatient Services at The Fields by surgery center.Rantoul’s Rajalben Chaudhari often felt left out. Hearing loss meant she missed jokes at parties. She regularly had to ask people to repeat themselves. But what concerned her most was not hearing her infant son, Kiaan, cry in the night. 

“My husband would wake up with our son every night, and this was the worst for me,” Chaudhari said. “I would start crying because I could not hear my baby. I thought, ‘What am I supposed to do when he grows up and talks to me?’”

Now Chaudhari can hear her son’s cries, thanks to a surgery performed by Carle otolaryngologist Ryan Porter, MD, and his team. He replaced the third hearing bone in her left ear with a titanium and platinum prosthetic. Chaudhari has otosclerosis, a genetic condition where one of the ear bones does not move freely and amplify sound.

Chaudhari’s surgery restored hearing in her left ear. She will have surgery on her right ear soon. Surgeries like this now happen at the Champaign Surgery Center at Carle at The Fields in southwest Champaign. Carle Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT), Audiology and Hearing Services open Monday at Carle Outpatient Services at The Fields next to the surgery center.

These departments completed their moves for pre- and post-surgical care since early April.

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS), which continues to see patients in the North Clinic office in Urbana
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Optometry, Optical Retail and Ophthalmology
  • General Surgery and Bariatric Surgery

“One of the big benefits of the new medical campus is the geographic location to Interstate 57,” Dr. Porter said. “People travel to us from all over, so this location is more convenient. It offers free parking where people can walk right in the front door. With the surgery center next door, you only have to find one location.”

Chaudhari’s hearing loss had worsened in recent years. She could hear sounds, but could not make out what people said.

“I thought people were messing with me, but my husband explained they were talking normally but I wasn’t hearing,” Chaudhari said.

Hearing aids helped, but she was unable to hear well if there was ambient noise. Chaudhari works in a store with noisy coolers, so it became more difficult to interact with customers.

“People don’t lose hearing the same in all frequencies,” Dr. Porter said. “What most people don’t realize is that over-the-counter hearing aids just make everything louder. A lot of people don’t know there is an alternative. Sometimes that alternative is hearing aids that are individually programmed by a highly skilled Audiologist at Carle, and sometimes that alternative is surgery.”

Dr. Porter said surgery is an option for patients with conductive hearing loss, which is an issue with the mechanics of hearing. Cochlear implants help patients whose hearing loss is due to nerves in the ear.

“Cochlear implants aren’t just for the deaf or for babies with hearing loss but for people who have progressive, slow hearing loss over time and it has progressed past the current hearing aid technology,” Dr. Porter said.

Surgery was life changing for Chaudhari.

“I was always sad, not happy, cranky and mean because I couldn’t hear,” she said. “Now my husband sees how much happier I am – the happiest he’s ever seen. I feel like a miracle.”

Chaudhari is enjoying her new morning ritual of listening to the birds in her backyard, and anticipating hearing her son’s first words. For the first time she’s had to ask her husband and son to quiet down when they play.

“I have had to say, ‘Oh my – you guys are so loud. Take it easy!’” she said.

Dr. Porter wants the same kinds of victories for others.

“Only a very small percentage of people who have a surgical option even look into it,” Dr. Porter said. “If you are unhappy with your hearing aids, talk to a Carle audiologist or me, and we can let you know about other options.”

For more information, talk with your primary care provider or call (217) 902-3277.