Fast forward to the Spring of 2013. I hadn’t really noticed much change in my hearing since around 2009. My left ear had severe to profound hearing loss and it may have continued to decline but I didn’t have any tests during that time and it was so bad that I wouldn’t know it got worse.
I woke up Saturday, May 18, 2013 with plans to run some errands. I had a full feeling in my right ear. The hair dryer sounded very funny. My first stop was the vet’s office, the first time I talked that day, and it sounded like I was talking in a bubble or had a fishbowl on my head. My voice was echoing in my head. My mind flashed back 5 years earlier and I knew I needed to get medical attention. I called my ENT office and their recording said to go to the emergency room if I had an emergency, they would return on Monday. They provided no way to contact them to speak with a nurse or doctor. Luckily I work in healthcare and a doctor’s office I’m affiliated with had Saturday morning hours. I went there and had my ear examined. It did not show any obvious sign of infection or fluid build up. I worked very closely with the doctor and he was aware of my history so we opted to cover all bases until my ENT office opened Monday. I got a strong shot of antibiotics, a steroid shot, oral antibiotics and steroid pills.
I started keeping a journal that day and here is what I wrote that evening:
Things sound robotic, metallic. It’s like listening through a blown speaker. The car radio is too distorted to listen to, so is the TV. I’m going to research sudden hearing loss and treatments or surgeries so I’m prepared for meeting with the ENT Doctor Monday.
I remember feeling very scared not knowing if this was going to be permanent or not.
On Monday, I called my ENT office at 8am sharp. The out of the office message was on their answering machine. It wasn’t until 9:17 (I know because I wrote it down!) that someone answered the phone. I was put on hold for 20 minutes to speak with a nurse. When I finally spoke with the nurse, she took my information, spoke with my ENT and said he wanted me to finish the oral steroids before he saw me. I would finish them on Thursday but he was out of the office Friday and the following Monday was a holiday, so I wasn’t able to get an appointment until the following Tuesday – 10 days after my sudden hearing loss.
I was, however, given an appointment with the audiologist that day for a hearing test. Instead of the headphones I was used to using for a hearing test, she put probes in my ears. I remember that I could hear “perfectly” in my right ear because of the amount of amplification being used. I literally had tears in my eyes. The hearing test did show that the hearing in my left ear was still in the severe to profound range and the hearing in my right ear was now in the lower limits of being classified as moderate. I was sent home to live in a state of near non-communication. 3 days later I called back and requested another appointment with the audiologist to see if I could get some type of hearing aid to help me while I waited to see the ENT. I wrote in my journal and it will always bother me that a hearing aid wasn’t offered to me the day of my hearing test. This was the first time I had to be my own advocate during this journey, but it wouldn’t be the last.
There is so much more to come…stay tuned!