Telling the whole story of my hearing loss for my own remembrance.
Around October 9, I was sitting in an Android training class at work. Near the end of the day, I realized my left ear felt weird, like there was pressure in it, the kind you’d feel when sick or during a plane landing. On my way home, I realized while listening to a podcast that I was only hearing one side. It was so dramatic that I initially thought that my headphones were broken, but I soon realized that no, it wasn’t the headphones; I was hearing absolutely nothing in one ear. Didn’t go away. And was soon accompanied by a constant, loud ringing noise. Completely annoying.
So I went to the doctor’s office (called surgery here). They looked in my ears and saw a ton of earwax, and suspected it was just blocked. So they prescribed ear drops and told me to come back in a week. I did. They cleared it out, but the eardrum looked fine, so they were stumped. They still suspected it would go away in a day or two now that the earwax was gone, but they said they’d refer me to the ENT for a week and a half later (during which we went to Korea). I missed the call from the ENT on the Tuesday after we arrived, and there was no way to call them back. I called the surgery and they said to just wait for them to call back within 2 weeks. I waited. No call. Then I got a letter saying I’d been scheduled for an ENT appointment… in January.
Meanwhile, a friend from our church here suggested a hearing specialist they went to. I called them, they referred me to an ENT, made an appointment for this past Monday. Incidentally, it’s fascinating to me what certain private practice doctor / dental offices look like. It looks like a corporate office room, not like a hospital. Of course, I’ve never gone private practice in the US so there’s no point of comparison, but yeah. So he looked in one ear, then saw my right ear was still blocked with ear wax (and thus impossible to compare) so he cleared that out. Saw nothing wrong in either ear.
So he sent me for a hearing test, which helps isolate the source of the hearing loss. I did that. When he saw the results, he gasped, because apparently the hearing loss is profound, which, coupled with being in one ear, is pretty unusual, and not good. He was straightforward with me – he sees a case like this about every 6 to 12 months, and hearing is restored in just a fraction of cases. In some others, it gets better, but not fully restored. In maybe half of the cases, it’s permanent.
He was also straightforward when prescribing me steroids – he said that there’s only anecdotal evidence that it helps, and when it does, it only works when it’s taken early, but there’s no downside, so why not, and I’m on that now. I liked him a lot – he was kind but direct, and all the web research I’ve done corroborated anything he said.
He also sent me for an MRI in the off chance (1 in 100,000) that it’s being caused by a tumour. Did that (with a kind, tall Russian woman named Olga). It’s not. Which (I asked) is good – better the unexplained hearing loss than the certainty of a tumour.
So that’s where I’m at. Can’t hear in one ear. Unexplained. Only a small chance it will come back, and if it does, it will probably be just as unexplained.
Jieun can corroborate, but I’m surprisingly sanguine about this. I’m not totally sure why. Part of it I think is, I was praying about this while in Korea and I got the sense that God is telling me something through this (not that it’s the reason for it, but that there’s a lesson to be learned), that I need to be listening to Him more. You know, similar to man shall not eat by bread alone. Man shall not listen by sound alone. Ever since then I felt at peace about things. I even got the sense in Korea that it wouldn’t be going away any time soon (so I wasn’t that shocked when seeing the ENT) but I felt confident about things being in God’s hands.
Plus, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just annoying, that’s all. I’d be more fine if it was strictly hearing loss; it’s the constant ringing that’s infuriating (apparently caused by the ear compensating for hearing no sound). But whatever, I can deal. I have many friends who have gone through far worse things, some life-threatening. This really doesn’t compare.
I think another thing I’ve been reminded by, partly by that Mr Rogers article, is that one of the most important spiritual disciplines is to be thankful. And I am. Looking at the large picture, I have far more things to be thankful for than not. I guess that perspective also makes this feel like it’s not really a big deal.
Still, if the steroids work, that would be fantastic. So please pray they do.