Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hear Today

One of the things that is hard to accept when you get older is that your body will simply stop working the way you expect it to, without any warning, and no do-overs. My right hip has decide it does NOT like getting up off the couch quickly. My stomach, in a pique, has renounced potato chips, lest I want heartburn so bad I could breathe fire. And last April, I woke up one morning to discover my left ear had just....stopped working.
I couldn't hear anything, like I the left side of my head was under water. I thought it might go away through the day, but no. A few weeks later, I still couldn't hear a thing out of that ear, and I was wandering around like a typical 90 year-old, cupping my ear and squinting and saying "eh??" Occasionally, when I tipped my head to be parallel to the floor, or when I yawned, I would hear a very loud crackle and then it would clear up for a few minutes and then go back to all muddled and fuzzy. Sometimes the crackle would be so loud it would startle me....I'm sure I looked ridiculous, yawning and then jumping like I'd been electrocuted, right in the middle.

The doctor sent me for a hearing test in the summer. (The guy who tested me must not be used to dealing with people who are under 80 or not completely deaf, because he came into the waiting room, stood straight in front of me and looked me in the eye before declaring "HELLO. MY. NAME. IS. LARRY. LARRY. I. WILL BE. TESTING. YOUR HEARING. TODAY." I had to tell Larry I could hear him just fine, as long as he stood on my right side.) Conclusion? I'd lost some hearing in my left ear. Thanks for that.

Occasionally, it would clear up for a few minutes, and then a few hours, and around Christmas time I noticed it seemed to be just fine all the time. But I had an appointment booked for yesterday with the specialist, so I figured I'd better go, just in case it came back. (The waiting room was full of people going "what???" It was like performance art.)

The specialist was a bandy little man, very good-humored and matter of fact. He'd clearly been doing this for a long time, and seemed happy enough to poke and prod and look inside my ears. (What a way to make a living!) Like Larry, he spoke to me in clear, measured tones until he figured out I wasn't deaf. After poking and prodding and asking me a million questions, he put a little probe up my nose to see if there was any obstructions at the back of my throat. ( Afterwards, I said I hoped that was the weirdest thing I did all day.)

After all that, he smiled and told me "you seem to have had some sort of obstruction in your middle ear that made you lose some hearing. That obstruction seems to be gone now, and your hearing has come back. I can't tell you why that happened, but I can tell you it might come back. Or not. We'll see". At least he was amused by this rather wishy-washy prognosis. I wondered how long he had to go to medical school to come up with this pithy conclusion.

He did say that middle age brings some not-so-delightful surprised, but that, since my hearing had come back and I appeared to have no outstanding medical issues, I should count my blessings and enjoy it while it lasts.

He's right..... hear, hear.


Carolyn said...

When you talk about weird things our bodies do to us as we age, I hear you, but if I stand on your left side you might not hear me. My mister suffered complete hearing loss in one ear a couple of years ago, and it had to happen on a weekend, so he needed to visit the walk-in clinic. The doctor checked his ears and quickly declared that he had a massive build-up of ear wax that even the medical equivalent of a pressure-wash couldn't loosen. When he got home, we spent the better part of the evening with him laying on his right side while I used a syringe, left over from the days of children's liquid antibiotics, to flush out the ear with warm water until the hardened mass of wax loosened enough to start breaking apart. His hearing was restored but he still has an uncanny inability to hear me the first and second times I ask him to do tasks he finds unpleasant.

Mrs. Loudshoes said...

On sthe subject of marital deafness, I pass on this gem, courtesy of Big Liver Girl: