Hearing for the first time what I missed for four months

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For the first time since January 24, 2012, I can hear out of both ears. It’s not perfect, but it’s really, really close.

On January 25 I lost my hearing due to an infection. At its worst I had no hearing in my left ear, and half in my right. Every time my ears started to clear, I would get painful coughing fits and the pressure would build in my ears again.

But now it has been a week since they cleared and I’m just starting to realize what I’ve missed. I can hear my baby burble in his sleep. I can hear the baby birds in their nest above my balcony. I can hear the rain, the wind, the toilet running, the late night traffic outside my window. I can hear the shutter click on my camera.

I feel lighter. I’m relaxed, calm, I can take part in conversations. There’s no more effort to hear, to listen.

It has been almost four months since I’ve been able to hear, and almost every doctor told me it might be another year until things righted themselves. I’m taking medication to deal with my blood pressure, which spiked dangerously high because I was having panic attacks at night from feeling claustrophobic.

The only sounds I could hear at night, for four months, were my heart beat and the kind of electric hum you might hear standing under a transformer.

A monotonous and wet thump-thump. thump-thump. thump-thump. thump-thump. and the high pitched whine you get in your head after a long, loud concert.

It took four months of fighting to be taken seriously by ER doctors and my family doctor, but I finally got in to see an ear, nose and throat specialist four weeks ago. He agreed it was serious, my left ear was almost entirely blocked, my right ear had mostly cleared by then.

But he agreed to perform a somewhat minor procedure that would put a ring, or a loop, in my left eardrum. This would equalize the pressure and allow my ear, or ears, to drain. After a few months, maybe a year, the ring — smaller than a match head — would fall out as the eardrum healed.

We set an appointment for day surgery for May 24. On the car ride home it feels like ten tonnes has been lifted from my shoulders. Finally, finally, finally it would be over.

But when I woke up the morning of the surgery it felt like something was wrong. The kind of wrong where you get to work and realize your shoes are on the wrong foot.

My girlfriend was very excited about my getting my hearing back, and on the car ride to the surgery she kept asking me questions about the procedure, and how long it would take to get my hearing back afterwards. And, honestly, I had no idea because I had been so excited to be taken seriously by the ENT doctor I forgot to ask him any questions.

So finally I said, “stop, look, there’s something wrong. I don’t know what, but I feel weird and I just need everything to be quiet for a few minutes.”

When I was finally on the operating table, and they had applied anaesthetic to my throat so they could check the passageways for infection, it finally dawned on me what was wrong. And I swore, out loud. “Fuck… unbelievable.”

The doctor’s assistant asked me what was wrong.

I put my hand to my forehead, closed my eyes and said, “Jesus. Unbelievable. I can hear.”

They checked, and the left ear, the one which had been mostly or entirely blocked for months, was as clear as if nothing had ever happened.

At some point during the twenty-four hours before the scheduled surgery, the last of the fluid blocking my ears had drained away.

The doctor told me that if anything goes wrong in the next three months he’ll see me right away, without a referral. There’s still some creaking, and light popping, but I can hear.

My life is stupid.

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...thanks.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Hearing for the first time what I missed for four months

  1. I too had suffered from partial hearing problem for a week, and it was like the whole world had moved toward my left 😉 Reading urs, reminded me of my own. 😀 though I had the problem just for a couple of weeks

  2. Another thing, it is relieving to see that u dont look as dangerous as ur gravatar pic 😉

    • Gabriel... says:

      You should see me when I have my beard and I’m wearing a hoodie. I’ve had the ‘little devil’ avatar almost since I started blogging, and I’m still not sure if it represents what I’m fighting against, or if it’s something fighting for me.

      Thanks for the comments Somesh.

      • U r welcome!
        bdw, the theme u r using, is that a customized one? I mean ur devil avatar is scattered all over the theme, and I don’t know if WordPress actually has such a theme. Seems kinda odd to me :-/

        • Gabriel... says:

          Hi Somesh. Most WordPress themes have the option of adding a background image, or changing the colour scheme and a few other things specific to each theme. If you want to find out what options your theme has, go to your Dashboard > Appearance > Themes /or Background /or Header.

          I’m using Twenty Ten, which is the WordPress default theme. I have it set so the background is black, with my ‘multiple devils’ image set to align left, tile vertically and scroll.

          Because of the size of photos I use, I’m locked into this theme now. If I was to use a theme with a smaller posting area the photos would look like crap…

  3. PiedType says:

    That’s wonderful news! I kept thinking I was reading how successful the procedure had been (it’s what my son had done in both ears, along with the removal of large tonsils and adenoids). Isn’t that just typical though, that the symptoms you’d had seemingly forever magically disappeared just before you see the doctor? Now you can hear that lone mosquito lurking in the bedroom waiting for the lights to go out, the neighbors’ loud music at 2 am, and of course, the dreaded dripping faucet 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Hi PT, thanks for the comment… actually, I just found out the neighbours, who moved in three weeks ago, have been harbouring some resentment against me because I had the music up loud after midnight. There was one night when my girlfriend told me she could hear my music two blocks away but, despite the speakers being only a foot away from me, I could barely hear anything.

    So the neighbours probably had a point.

    If you’ve got some time I’d love to know how long it took for your son to get his hearing back after the operation…

    • PiedType says:

      Slightly different situation for my son. He was only about 4 years old at the time. Kept getting horrible, persistent ear infections. Difficult to get reliable hearing test results at that age, but the docs said there would be serious, permanent hearing loss from the infections if he didn’t get the tubes put in to keep the ears drained, pressures equalized, etc. and avoid future infections. The tonsils and adenoids were removed because they were blocking the Eustachian tubes’ drainage. Bottom line: He never got another ear infection.

  5. Thinking of you and yours while attempting to catch up on all the things I’ve missed.

    I am glad you are hearing again, and cried while I read of the loss of Evangeline. I’m so sorry.

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