Monday, May 11, 2009

Some of My Ear History

I recently received a comment from Colin about Frank's brush with ototoxicity as a result of Mycin Drugs. As a result of Colin's comment, I wound up writing a very brief bit of my ear history.

It's not exactly the entertaining stuff you've come to expect from me (or perhaps it is), but all the same I thought to document it here. My ongoing
Battle with the World of Sound affects me every day.

Everyday I think about my ability to hear (or not) as well as the frequent
tinnitus I experience (even now, as I type).

In any case, here's a bit about what's happened/ing with me and my ears:
I myself am very aware of hearing troubles since I've experienced partial hearing loss as the result of a bicycle accident when I was 8.

The hearing loss was the result of the my incus (which is the second smallest bone in your body, not quite 1/4" across) becoming dislocated as a result of my impact with the ground. I also became a "Crack Head" - that is, I fractured in my skull in the accident.

At 25, I had my first surgery to restore hearing. It was more successful than they expected... until a sinus infection caused a rupture which dislocated the titanium prosthetic in my middle ear. I was 30.

Due to other people in my household having more urgent needs of surgery and care, I had to wait two months after the rupture (with the prosthetic through the ear drum the whole time) before having another prosthetic, as well as the ear drum repaired.

Then, some (oh, I'm forgetting the technical name of it) but my body didn't like the "new" ear drum and was growing skin over the ear drum. That's right, it's called cholesteatoma. The doctor ripped it off (during an office visit), and caused pain, as well as a lot of bleeding and a clot.

This was when I was 32.

Oh... I'm going on and on here. The long and short of it is, I need to have YET ANOTHER surgery to replace the prosthetic (with a third one). Every surgery I have gives me an 80% chance of hearing... or a 1 in 5 chance of coming out of it deaf. There's no guarantee that the hearing will be better than it was before the surgery.

Gratefully, I still have a "good", natural ear. I fear that having chosen that first surgery (in my 20's) has led me to a lifetime of ear surgeries.

I have a lot of environmental allergies and every time one leads to a sinus infection, it risks the integrity of my prosthetic. I am grateful I have options, but I hate having to have the surgeries.

I'm always intrigued by how much such a "simple little surgery" on such a small area of our body affects our lives... ie: no lifting of more than 10 pounds for a whole month, and how dizzy and sick you can feel from ear surgery. Yuck!

Also, my surgeon (who now is more 800 miles from me, because I moved) is a leading specialist of cochlear implants in Southwestern America. I've read quite a bit about it at his office.

Because he's so highly regarded (and I like him so much), I'll go back to see him for my next surgery... traveling (as you know) adds more elements to planning a surgery than when the office and hospital are "just down the road from you".

I'm now 35 and havn't been able to schedule the new surgery. As soon as we can gather the finances, I'll be going back again... currently, if I'm laying in bed with my good ear down, I can't hear my husband, right next to me speaking, but I can feel the vibration of his voice.

Thanks for listening to a part of my story!


marie*jolie said...

Wow, I had no clue! You do a great job of masking this in public, or maybe you just manage to always sit me on your "good" side. I had no idea! I'm glad there are things that can be done, and it's awesome that you have the perspective of being able to truly appreciate something that many of us take for granted.

SuzyQSparkles said...

Yes, in the past three years, since the last dislocation and most severe hearing loss of my life, I've become quite excellent at positioning myself so that those around me are to my "good side". I also have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot, I'll often say something as simple as "I have a bad ear."

The other thing I've found VERY helpful, is when watching DVD's, we always turn on English Subtitles before watching a show. It makes it so I'm not constantly asking my husband "what did they say" and or rewinding to try to figure out what's going on. Sometimes the subtitles give something away that's about to be said... but only a few seconds early.

The other think I like about the subtitles is that I feel it's helping my children learn about reading. No proof of this, just a feeling I have. So, even if it's a kid's show, I always check for the subtitles before starting a show.

I think you could take this one step further, if you're trying to learn a language, you can change the audio and or visual settings on a DVD and listen and or read the language you are working on (especially Spanish or French).

Suzy :)

Sally said...

Turning on the captioning ABSOLUTELY does help your children with learning to read. I am an itinerant teacher for hearing impaired students and I constantly remind teachers to turn on the captioning for "my" students, with the reminder that it will help other students also.

Cosmetic Guru said...

It is good that you have found a surgeon you are comfortable with and trust. Alot of individuals I have heard from do not take the time to find a perfect doctor for them, and it ends up making their results a bit skewed and not as well received.