Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hearing Loss and other little things

As long as I can remember, I have not been able to hear out of my right ear. No one knows if it was there from birth or shortly after, or what. But the crux of the the matter is I haven't heard anything out of that ear for years.

It wasn't much of a problem most of my life. Children are resilient and I soon learned what side to make people walk on so I could catch all the the conversation. I was in college before I realized I lip-read. And, I avoided crowded places where I would not be able to hear anything over the background noise. All this without knowing even how I lost my hearing.

Not that my parents didn't drag me off to doctors all the time. I saw an eye specialist and and ear specialist twice a year. No one had any answers, or they weren't telling me, but nothing changed. I never got a hearing aid. I just went on hearing the best I could.

A couple of years ago, I had some extensive testing done. I guess I wanted to know what was what. It just seemed kind of strange to not know what was going in your own body. That testing showed profound hearing deficit due to nerve damage. The doctor conjectured that it may have been congenital, meaning I was born that way. And, no, a hearing aid wouldn't help.

I mourned a little, but didn't for long. I mean, I had lived this way for some time already and had adapted. What else could I do?

That was before two trauma incidences in my life.

In 2006, I had a case of Bell's Palsy. A bad one. The whole right side of my face from the top of my head to my shoulders ceased to work. The pain was tremendous and the vertigo that ensued shook my world. I could barely walk down a street for falling to one side. Fortunately, the majority of the symptoms lasted only four months. The vertigo lingered for awhile, but eventually, cleared up so I could walk and drive again.

Fast forward to this year, when I underwent two teeth extractions. Suddenly, the whole situation with the ear thing was back again, and this time, with a vengence. I couldn't even make right turns in walking without the world looking like a 1960's Batman villian hideout!

My doctor, bless his misguided soul, prescribed lots of antibiotics to no avail. Finally, I "suggested" that I see a specialist.

Now, trust me, I am at the point in my life and in my family's life, that I really don't want to see another doctor as long as I live. My feeling is that we have gone way over our quota, but there was nothing else to do.

Off I went, only to find that these doctors were no nonsense, answered questions, swore off antibiotics and got results. If only all this family's doctors could be so efficient!

Within two weeks, I had an answer. It seems that this nerve damage was not just for my hearing, but for my vestibular system as well. In fact, I have very little feeling inside my ear. It may have been a slow progressive loss, but those two traumas pushed it along considerably.

That wass the bad news. There is good news. Treatment abounds.

For now, I am taking Valium - yes, the happy pill - three times a day, along with Meclizine, twice a day and Compazine, once a day.

It works like a charm! Don't ask me how, but the world is right again! Words don't dance, rooms don't shimmy, and I even drove at night withoug incident!

Now, I can feel when it is wearing off, but then, I pop another pill. I know that sounds sad, but I really don't care.

I never realized how much things were moving. I just began to deteriorate. I have been able to read three text for classes this week without a migraine. I still take breaks, but I am not losing my place and comprehension as much. I am not so sleepy and foggy. There isn't this heaviness over my forehead anymore. All this was from a non-working balance system! I thought I was dying or something! Well, maybe not dying, but developing Alzheimer's. It was truly scary.

Here I sit, finally with the world still and me with the ability to function. It truly is amazing what little things can make such a difference in one's life.

I will end this with a plea to everyone to get little things checked out before they become big things. You never know what could be causing so much pain or change in your life.

Take care,