October 6, 2008

"What?"

Well, it’s official, dammit. I have inner ear damage resulting in hearing loss, probably permanent.

A couple of months ago in the dead of night, a storm came through the city. Lightning was cracking all around us, and being a deep sleeper I was only vaguely aware. But then a bolt struck in our back yard and the boom got us out of bed. The percussive wave of the strike turned on my bedlamp, which is activated by a pressure-sensitive rheostat. My head was ringing from the shockwave, and my ears hurt. It was like a large-bore cannon had gone off next to my head.

Two days later my ears still ached, so I saw my doctor. He saw no physical signs of damage, but my ears were ringing with a couple of loud tones that muffled some sounds. He sent me to a specialist, but I already knew the outcome. There is no cure for tinnitus.

I’ve had a very mild case of tinnitus since I was a kid, no doubt due to dropping out of trees a bunch of times. Those little tones—there were four distinct notes—were easy to ignore and really were discernible only in the quietest of times. No problem.

Not so anymore. This noise is so loud that it cannot be drowned by hubby’s white noise machine he uses at night. (He’s got radar dishes for ears and can’t sleep without it.) I’ve had to ask people to repeat themselves a number of times, especially on the phone. I have to avoid other loud sounds, as I’ve learned they make the noise louder. (Ben popped a balloon near me. Never again.) That means no more rock concerts or rocking out in the car on my commute.

Shit. This isn’t old age. This isn’t a cautionary tale. There is nothing to be learned here. This just sucks. I’m having a momentary pity party that I’ll get over. I’ve got so much going for me, and I can still hear most things. I wish I could hear what good will come of it.

12 comments:

Roxrocks said...

Oh NO! That's awful news! Can you get a hearing aid?

Bear Me Out said...

I'm sad for you. This really sucks OUT LOUD. (pardon) but, I really mean that.

tornwordo said...

That really does suck. I hope there's something you can do to mitigate it over time. Hugs.

Java said...

Well pthpthphtpht. Will it ever be thus? that sucks.

evilganome said...

Deepest sympathy. My hearing has been getting worse and worse over the past few years and any background noise really interferes with my understanding anything that is said to me.

I hope that they can figure something out for you.

bigislandjeepguy said...

we are all entitled to pity party's. yours seems pretty..._____. (i'm searching for a word here...something along the lines of "you deserve to throw yourself a pity party for this one") but you seem like the kind of person to bounce back pretty quickly.

sending out good thoughts your way.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Oh no that is bad! I feel your pain Birdie, sometimes I get a sound in one ear that drives me nuts for days, I can't imagine never getting rid of it. So let me give you a big cyber hug and complain all you want to get it out of your system!

Me Online said...

I am so sorry. That can be so distracting. I didn't know that lightning could do that.

I had something similar once only in one ear. They decided that it was either a brain tumor or menears disease. After 2 MRIs and many tests they ruled out brain tumor (probably due to lack of brain) but never ruled out menears. Lucky for me though the ringing lessened to a comfortable level.

Don't worry about asking people to repeat. I'm sure they don't mind as you always have something interesting to say.

somewhere joe said...

I've had tinitus since rockin' New York. Then I was chiseling concrete here at the condo a few years ago, and without warning the hammer struck the chisel which struck the concrete in such a way as to send a piercing and painful clang into my eardrum. Instant hearing loss in my left ear, tinitus amplified.

And now that I'm older, and appreciate the peace and quiet that I shunned as a youngster, I'm aurally plagued by the recklessness of my youth.

Greg said...

Aww, Birdie...I'm sorry to hear this. I SAID, I'm sorry to hear this news...the Pity is perfectly understandable, but as Joe says, this frees you up to discover peace and quiet in new places...

David said...

Both terrifying and unfortunate.

On the upside, you can totally pretend not to hear anything you don't want to from now on. "What? You told me I couldn't go back for seconds on dessert? Sorry, I totally didn't hear you. Tinnitus, you know." Run it for all it's worth.

the hobbit said...

I completely understand. My ears ring often, too, and I can no longer listen to music on my iPod. As you can imagine, I simply can not lose my hearing.