(This post is from 2016)
A few days ago, I experienced Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. In other words, I literally woke up half-deaf. The cause is overwhelmingly unknown, but is thought to be triggered by a virus or circulatory system deficit in the inner ear. (As awful as it is, I’m amused that the name for this hearing loss literally includes SH.)
A hearing test confirmed that I’ve lost 85% of the hearing in my right ear. Just by opening my eyes at 7 am. three days ago. I mean, how random is that?
The only known treatment is evil. Steroids. And I’m struggling with the side effects, beginning with the dose that was administered by injection DIRECTLY INTO MY EAR.
The doctor says I could regain some of my hearing but is doubtful I’ll get back to 100%. Oh yeah, and I need an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. Minor detail. Okay so maybe I’m a little nervous.
I told a couple of friends who were very supportive and I realized I needed to share it with my church family, at least in the form of a prayer request. The response I’ve received from friends in caring e-mails and texts (I knew I’d make it eventually, even with just 40 seconds to go) has been the LIFT I didn’t fully realize I needed.
There is strength in community. There is a lane into which I can slip while I struggle with this and I can settle in, catch their draft, and draw upon their strength when I need it. Even when it’s hard for me to ask for it. And it’s hard for me to ask for it all the damn time.
I woke up half deaf three days ago and for whatever reason was asked to lift this load for however long it takes. I’m grateful that, although it felt like I had to lift it alone, I do not have to carry it alone.
Edited to add (8.9.2020)
Annual hearing tests indicate I regained a bit of low-frequency hearing, but none in higher-frequency ranges. As the doctor explained it, I can hear a stereo’s bass better than the buzzing of a mosquito.
The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that my hearing loss does not equate silence. Honestly, there’ve been times when I wished it did. As in, I would give up the remaining hearing in that one ear, in exchange for silence, if I could.
The first hearing test after I was diagnosed, every single word sounded like a church organ. I actually thought the audiologist was messing with me. She’d say a word into my “good” ear and I’d repeat it. Then she told me she was saying a word into my bad ear but all I heard was
With a little time and several more steroid injections INTO MY EAR (I’m still a tad bitter about those) the church organ morphed into words I could recognize. But under it all there was – and still is – what I’ve come to call my internal jazz band. Mostly because – and I know this is an unpopular opinion – I
hate strongly dislike jazz.
The underlying constant is white noise. An endless seashell-held-to-the-ear whoooooshing sound. That noise fades in and out of my consciousness a dozen or a thousand times a day, depending on my levels of concentration, stress, and activity. I’m still learning how to ignore it. Which I can do for stretches of time, but then the rest of the ensemble kicks in with their beeps, dings, and the almost painful zaps of what sounds a lot like an old radio dial abruptly switching between stations.
Sometimes the distorted sounds are so sharp I inadvertently wince. It always seems like it must be obvious to others but I’m beginning to realize it’s like when your eye twitches. It’s not nearly the outward spectacle it seems.
Four years ago today, life got a lot quieter and a lot louder in the same moment. I woke up with a jazz band ear, illustrated by comic book sound effects.
I wrote this as part of a lovely tribe of writers for Five Minute Friday.
Five minutes, one writing prompt, zero editing. Just write.