Monday, July 8, 2013

Wait, what?

I really thought it was no big deal.

I'm not a girl who goes to the doctor often.
In fact, I usually have to be falling down sick or have my back totally go out in order to end up there. {I usually just figure that whatever is wrong- a cough, a cold, or sore throat- will work it's way through my system so there really is no need.}

So when I had a cold several months ago and my right ear stopped up, I thought nothing of it at first. But when my cold went away- and my ear was still stopped up- I did think it was a little odd.  A friend who is also doctor looked in my ear and suggested that I take some Musinex D to help clear it up.
So I did.

And my ear didn't get better. But it didn't hurt so I just kind of adjusted to it. I used my left ear to talk on the phone and tried to sit on the right side of friends at dinner and the movies. It would occasionally irritate me but it didn't hurt so I figured it was just some fluid in my ear. After some time I tried another round of Musinex D.
No change.

During this time my back went out {oh the joys of getting older} so my ear being stopped up was the least of my concerns. Until one day a few weeks ago when I was in my office and picked up the phone to make a call. For some reason I put the phone to my right ear. When I did I thought...."Oh no! My phone is broken."
because I heard nothing.

I moved the phone to my left ear and heard a loud, clear dial tone. And immediately became concerned. There was a dial tone- I just couldn't hear it at ALL with my right ear. I used that phone immediately to call and make an appointment with my doctor for the next day.

I truly expected to go to the doctor, have him look at my ear, say that there was some fluid trapped in it, and that he would drain it and all would be well.

That's not what happened.

He looked and saw nothing wrong. He had his nurse give me a hearing test- which I failed completely in that ear. Twice. The doctor was concerned  {and he's not usually very excitable} and started throwing around the phrase "permanent hearing loss" which freaked me out a bit. Okay maybe more than a bit.

He started me on a bunch of steroids, called to get me a series of hearing tests, and in to see an ENT specialist as soon as possible- three days later. I left in shock thinking- wait, what?

Three days later I went through a bunch of hearing tests in a sound proof booth with a sweet audiology doctor who told me at the end that I did have permanent hearing loss in my right ear. She explained that it affected my ability to hear voices- not just sounds. {So basically  I hear muffled voices in that ear.  If you turn up the volume in that ear, I don't hear better, I just hear louder muffled voices.} I went straight from her office to the ENT doctor's office where he performed a bunch more tests, looked over the results from the audiology doctor, and confirmed that the loss was permanent.

I sat there stunned thinking...wait, what?
I'm 43, not 83. How can I have permanent hearing loss?

The doctor explained that it was most likely caused a virus and that it just sometimes happens. He said the only hope for restoring hearing {and it was a very small hope} was taking large amounts of oral steroids and steroids shots {in the ear!}. He said due to my age he wanted to do an MRI just to make sure there wasn't something causing the hearing loss other than a virus and scheduled it for the following week.  He said afterwards we could talk about hearing aid options if that was something I wanted to explore. I left his office with a bag full of steroids, an MRI appointment, and a follow up appointment with the ENT for the next week.  I sat in the parking lot in shock that this was permanent and most likely irreversible.

The following Thursday I had the MRI {first one with contrast- so NOT fun} and assumed that I would just talk to the doctor about the results the next week at my scheduled appointment.

I was wrong.

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