Monthly Archives: April 2008

Second Doctor Visit – Medrol, Be Gone!

Well, I’ve finished the Medrol (11 days worth).  The potential side effects were really alarming:  Mood swings!  Sudden weight gain!  Acne!  Increased appetite!  Sleeplessness!  Ironically, I seem to be having more trouble readjusting to being off the medicine than I did while I was actually on it.  I noticed some periods where my heart was racing and most especially, sweating.  Oh God, the sweating.  It was disgusting.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night literally drenched – I’d have to change my nightgown because it felt like I’d gone swimming in it.  I actually ended up losing weight, though – I think I must have sweated it off!

So, no change from taking the Medrol.  I went back to the doctor yesterday for my check-up to see if the steroids helped and got another audiogram as well.  This was at the official office and the experience was pretty much the same, with the exception of actually dealing with receptionists instead of just the doctor.    The exam of my ears was uneventful, and my audiogram showed that both of my ears are the same now.  The marks on my audiogram (for both ears) are at the 110 db range with little arrows pointing down toward the 120 db line.

The doctor gave me a prescription for an MRI, just to rule out any deformities, blockages or other problems they aren’t aware of, and again mentioned the cochlear implant.  I told him I’d done some research and was definitely interested, so he went ahead and scheduled me for a Cochlear Implant Evaluation on May 7.  That’s a two hour appointment and that’s pretty much all I know about it.  I was given a form to fill out and bring with me, detailing my hearing loss history, hearing aid usage, etc.

The MRI was supposed to be today (April 29) but we found out this morning that the insurance company has to pre-approve it and they hadn’t done that yet.  This put me into a bit of a panic because I just changed insurance companies in January and now I’m worried that Aetna will find a reason to deny me.  (We just watched Sicko not long ago so I’m even more paranoid about insurance companies these days.)  The doctor’s office is supposed to call when they get the pre-approval and we haven’t heard from them yet so I’m hoping they call tomorrow.  We rescheduled the MRI for Thursday, May 1.

I’m actually really nervous about the MRI – not the actual test itself but the fact that Dave won’t be with me in the testing room and I’m worried I won’t understand what the technician is telling me.  I’ve been thinking about (and panicking over) how I would do something like an eye exam if I had to get one.  You know, you look into the big lens thingy at the chart, while the doctor sits next to you in the dark and says, “Better or worse?”  I guess I would have to look, then turn away and read the doctor’s lips … or something.  Gah.  I just won’t get my eyes examined again until I absolutely have to!

Today has been a weirdly emotional day for me – I burst out crying this afternoon, totally out of nowhere.  My heart has been pounding, racing and skipping beats, which leaves me breathless and coughing.  Dave thinks it’s from my body readjusting to being off the Medrol, since it affects the adrenal glands.  I’ve been panicking about random things, stressing out and just generally not reacting to things the way I usually do.

I’m settling down now and hopefully tomorrow will be blessedly uneventful.

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Talking with my hands

It’s ironic, considering that I’ve been hard of hearing basically my whole life, but I’ve always wanted to know sign language. I think it’s amazing and expressive and just … wonderful. If there had been sign language classes in my high school, I would’ve taken them in a heartbeat!

But I’ve never learned. The opportunity just never presented itself to me and I never pursued it. When I had my first episode of hearing loss in 1993, I had to consider the possibility that I might become entirely deaf in the not-so-distant future. I assumed I had to learn sign language. At that time though, I didn’t learn because I would’ve had nobody to practice it with. What was the point of learning sign language if your family isn’t going to use it to communicate with you?

I really didn’t consider that there are a lot of deaf people who never learn it – it just seemed to me that anybody who couldn’t hear (i.e., hearing aids didn’t help) would know or learn sign language.

I realize this is a really, really common misconception. I’m coming across it more now because if I tell someone I’m deaf and need accommodations, they assume it means a sign language interpreter. I have to explain that I’m newly-deafened and don’t know sign language. I think the only thing that would benefit me at this point (besides good old pen and paper) would be CART (or real time captioning) where somebody listens and types what’s being said so that I can read it on a computer screen. At least I think that’s how it works – I’ve never seen it in action, just read about it and I know it’s available.

I did the same thing this time around, when I lost the rest of my hearing. My first instinct was to get information on sign language. I realized there’s no classes in my area – the local college has one class coming up this summer, it’s only got 2 openings left (we would need 4 openings for the whole family to go) and it’s prohibitively expensive. It would cost nearly $600 for all of us to attend, and we just can’t afford that. If there are classes available in the community, I can’t find them.

However, Dave used to teach a casual sign language class many years ago (before he and I met and, ironically, before he lost his hearing) and he has a lot of materials. He remembers some of the signs and taught my daughter and I how to fingerspell. We’ve been talking about it and decided that learning ASL is probably unrealistic for the whole family, so we’d be better off learning our own form of PSE or contact sign, a combination of ASL and signed English. I don’t think I’ll ever know sign language well enough to use an interpreter, but I’d like to know it well enough that I can use it with my family to get past those stumbling blocks where I can’t lip read.

Raven, my daughter (and no, that’s not her real name…LOL…she asked me to use it as her pseudonym here) really loves the idea of learning sign language. She’s already adept at fingerspelling and does that when I can’t catch certain words she’s saying. I can remember being her age and thinking how cool it would be to know sign language, so I could talk to my friends without other people knowing what we were saying. 🙂

So we’ve got some books, we got some DVDs from the library and we’re trying to use signs when we can. In the past when I considered learning sign language, I quickly abandoned the idea because it really doesn’t work if you don’t have somebody to sign with and practice. I would eventually forget about it because I didn’t need to sign to communicate. Now, though, I find myself asking Dave what the sign is for a certain word, or practicing phrases with him. It’s really fun!

Now that the pressure is off, I can take my time and learn sign language at my own pace and in the manner that will work best with my family. Before there was this sense of urgency: Oh my gosh, if I don’t learn sign language immediately, how will I communicate?! I realize now that it’s ridiculous to think that way – just like if I moved to a foreign country, I would need time to learn the language. Even though I don’t expect to rely completely on sign language, I still think it’s a good thing to know. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn and now I’m really motivated!

…. BOO!

Um, yea. Scary movies are not that scary without sound.

Try it sometime. Watch a scary movie (one you’ve never seen, so you can’t anticipate the tense music or what’s going to happen) with the sound muted and captions on. It’s really a different experience!

I’m not a horror movie buff by any means, obviously — I mean, I can’t even watch a surgery scene in House without covering my eyes. I do enjoy action movies and sci-fi and so does Dave, with the occasional “suspenseful” type movie thrown in. (You would never catch me watching Saw or even a Nightmare on Elm Street-type movie.) Dave is a big AVP fan so last night we watched Alien vs Predator – Requiem. Usually we watch these kinds of movies while we’re working on candles, so I have an excuse to keep glancing down and looking away from the TV. Last night we were just relaxing, so I kept my eyes glued to the TV the whole time.

I have to say, the subtitles for that movie were very good and extremely descriptive. But I realized as the movie went along that nothing was startling me. I didn’t have to look away because the tension was too much to bear (oh MAN, when is the monster going to jump on him?!) and I didn’t have any cues as to when to start getting nervous. Think of the music in Jaws. Without that theme building up to the shark attack, it’s a totally different viewing experience. Or coming up behind somebody and saying “Boo!” If they can’t hear you, they aren’t scared. Now if you come up behind me and grab me, I’m gonna scream. Let’s hope TV doesn’t evolve that much!

This is all just fascinating to me — I’ve always taken sound for granted and never realized how much it affects my emotions.

On a totally unrelated note, before we watched AVP-R we watched a different type of horror movie: the documentary No End in Sight. It was really, really good and extremely enlightening. I think everyone should watch it!

Avert your eyes

I just realized something tonight when we were watching two of our favorite medical dramas, Grey’s Anatomy and ER: I have to watch the surgery scenes! Aaagh!

Normally I avert my eyes during anything bloody/gory/graphic because I’m a wuss. It sounds a little strange but usually I watch the TV reflection in our window…I can get a sense of what’s happening without graphic details, and I can tell when the “gory” stuff is over so I can look back at the TV. Then I just listen to the dialog and although I usually miss 90% of it, I can tell whether it’s important to the story (or funny dialog) or if it’s just the ole “Pass me the scalpel!” type stuff.

Well, now I can’t do that. If I want to know what’s going on, I have to watch the TV to read the captions. All the time. During all the gore. I ended up covering my view of the TV screen with my hand as much as possible, and squinting to read the captions without getting too much visual. I’m sure I looked ridiculous but hey, I’m not giving up my favorite shows because of this!

So I’m either going to have to learn to steel myself for these scenes, just miss the dialog and have Dave tap my arm so I know when to look back at the TV, or get really good at blocking out the view of everything but the captions. Who knew this would be an issue?! Too funny!

Caption Observations

If you’re ever really curious to know what it’s like for a deaf person to watch TV, it’s easy to experience:  turn the captioning on and mute the volume.  It really is a totally different experience when you only have the captions to rely on!

I’ve been using captions on the TV since they were readily available; I never had one of the caption decoder boxes.  I guess it was the early 90s or so when I started watching TV and videos with captions.

I’ve always relied on them – even when I could hear pretty well, I could just never understand exactly what was being said because the sounds didn’t make sense (unless I could lip read, which is not always possible – voice-overs, for instance).

The kids and I would chuckle at some of the really descriptive captions – things like “lively fanfare” to describe music, for instance.  Now, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all those very descriptive captions!

I’ve realized a few things in the past week.  One thing captions can’t convey is accents, and this can really affect how humorous something is.  The first thing that comes to mind as an example is Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies, with his crazy/bizarre “French” accent.  Just listening to him talk was enough to make me laugh!  Now, if I were to watch A Shot in the Dark (for instance) without realizing what kind of accent he had, a lot of the dialog would just not seem as funny.

Since it’s only been a week since I’ve completely lost my hearing, I find that as I read the captions for our regular TV shows I hear the voices in my head as I remember them sounding, accents and all.  It helps me feel connected to the show.  But movies that I watched as a newly-deaf person were harder to connect to or “voice” in my head; Juno, for instance.  I have no idea what Ellen Page’s voice sounds like or if she has any kind of accent.

Musical shows are especially hard to watch with just captioning.  We’re big American Idol fans here and I find myself just focusing on the dancing/stage movements and facial expressions more than anything.  After each song, I turn to my family members to get their opinions of how the voices actually sounded.  Now, I was never good at telling if someone had a good voice or not anyway…I have no idea if someone is singing in tune, for instance.  But I certainly used to be able to tell if I liked a specific musical arrangement, or if somebody’s voice was particularly awful!  

The other area where captioning is still not fantastic is reality shows.  Luckily we only watch two of those – American Idol (and the captioning there is not too bad) and Survivor.  I’m not sure if it’s specific to Survivor the show, or if it’s a CBS thing, but the captioning for that show really lags.  They’ll be talking and the captioning will be 2 or 3 sentences behind.  I have to decide whether it’s just easier to lip-read (if it’s a segment where someone is talking directly to the camera) or just focus on the captions and not look at the lips, which throws me off because they’re so far out of sync.

One final comment and then I think I’ve said all I can about captioning…I really wish they’d get the technology to caption all the videos on the internet.  It’s more and more prevalent, and we’ve had a few TV shows get cancelled and then offer the remaining episodes on the internet only – which does us no good because those episodes aren’t captioned.  I’m always thrilled when I find a (rare) captioned video online!

Here we go again

I’m still at the stage where I have to relive my deafness every morning.  It’s slowly starting to get easier but I still have that initial shock when I put my hearing aids in and everything still sounds the same.

The first night that I lost all of my hearing, I was really devastated and still trying to accept what was happening.  At one point I woke up and was sure that I heard myself clear my throat.  I was half asleep and must have been thinking about it, because I spent the rest of the night dreaming that my hearing was coming back.  I distinctly remember waking up in the dream, putting in my hearing aids and then just grinning from ear to ear.  I ran up to Dave and said, “I can hear!  My hearing is back!”

That morning was the hardest by far.  I was holding my breath as I put my hearing aids in…and then I quickly realized it really was just a dream and there was no change.

I’m really relieved I don’t go through that every morning – talk about a depressing way to start your day!  Thankfully now it’s more of a “remembering I have to lip read” all day kind of thing.  The lip reading is also getting easier to do on a full-time basis.  The first couple of days I just felt exhausted by bed time – it was really a lot of work to lip read and focus intently on what everyone was saying all day long.  I’m very much a multi-tasker and having to stop what I’m doing to face the person speaking to me, never look away from their face as I lip read the words, was a big adjustment.  No more doing the dishes or making dinner while I casually chat with my daughter.  We still talk, of course, but that easy flow is gone because I can’t look down to add ingredients or wash a dish and still understand what she is saying.

Mornings seem to be harder for me as far as lip reading and comprehending go.  Usually by noon I’m in my groove and don’t really have much trouble but in the mornings Dave has had to rely on writing notes a couple of times before I catch on.

It’s still really exciting to realize how much I do catch though.  The only really hard times are when big changes of topic come into play.  I do have moments of panic if the topic changes and I have NO idea what’s being said, but that happens pretty rarely.

I know it won’t be long before I’m used to this but for now it’s like entering a strange new world every morning.

Diagnosis…the First Visit to the Doctor

Finally, it’s Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully I can get an answer one way or the other, and then begin the process of either dealing with my newfound deafness or rejoicing in the fact that I was worrying for nothing. I’m generally an optimistic person but sometimes it’s easier to assume the worst so that I’m not crushed if I get bad news. This is the attitude I decide to take as we make our way to the doctor’s office.

I’ve never been to this location before, and the waiting room is empty. I’m surprised that my doctor comes to the reception desk – there’s no receptionist working. He’s a specialist and I haven’t seen him since my last visit in 2001; before that I hadn’t gone in since 1997 so I know he doesn’t recognize or remember me. That’s fine though – I really like and trust this doctor and I feel comfortable with the level of care I’ll receive. I’m really picky about my doctors – if I feel like they’re rude or rushing me or have a bad bedside manner, I drop them and look for someone else. I’m glad that I’ve already got somebody I know and trust to turn to at this time, without having the added stress of finding a doctor on top of dealing with sudden deafness.

Dave does the talking and we just go right back to the room without having to wait. I have my hearing aids in my purse – no sense wearing them when I know the first thing the doctor will do is look in my ears! He looks in both ears, very quickly. Uh oh. I had hoped for some prolonged exploration in my left ear, and then a smile and “Oh yes, you have a large amount of ear wax impacted in that ear. We’ll remove it and you should be fine!”

I can see from the look on Dave’s face that he was expecting the same thing; now he looks confused. He asks the doctor: “There’s no infection?” The doctor shakes his head. He asks me if I’ve had any dizziness or felt sick, and I explain my recent symptoms which only include one or two short, minor episodes of dizziness.

I can tell he’s not sure if I’m able to understand him so he tells me he’s going to talk to Dave, and I tell him that’s fine. As they talk, I read their lips and interject here and there. The doctor ends up including me in the conversation which makes me feel a little proud – he’s seen that I lip read well enough to get most of what he’s saying.

I’m led into another room for an audiogram. The audiologist is talking quickly and I’m surprised she doesn’t realize I’m deaf and she needs to slow down. She explains the test and then adds that she’ll be doing some word recognition testing and to “just say whatever you do hear”. I smile and tell her, “I don’t think I’m going to hear any of it.” She gives me kind of an uncomfortable smile and leaves. I almost feel like she’s afraid of me, which is weird – maybe she thinks I’m going to start crying or something.

The test begins with earplugs and pressure in each ear. A loud, vibrating hum (which I do sense in both ears). Then the usual “press this when you hear anything” test. I generally don’t hear anything during the test – I just feel the vibration of certain sounds – and I press when I feel the vibrations. In my left ear I do hear a couple of very high pitched sounds which surprises me and makes me feel a little bit better.

There’s a long period of total silence, without any vibrations or anything coming through. I look around at the walls and wonder if there are sounds coming through the headset that I’m not hearing, or if maybe she’s adjusting the equipment. Looking back now, I think this must have been the part where she was saying words that I was supposed to repeat. (Say the word HOT DOG. Say the word BALL. …etc etc)

She comes back in with the bone conduction thing which usually just makes me cringe. I notice she seems more at ease with me now – maybe seeing my degree of loss makes it easier to know how to communicate with me. She’s easier to lip read and just seems gentler somehow. She tells me NOT to push the button if I feel a vibration – only if I actually hear a sound. I brace myself for the head-shattering feeling of the bone conduction portion of the test, but I end up feeling and hearing nothing. I don’t push the button at all.

She comes back in, smiles and says, “You were right – you didn’t hear any of the words” and I grinned back at her. (Told ya so!) She tells me I now have a profound hearing loss in both ears, with the left ear being a little bit better than the right. She asks if anybody has talked to me about a cochlear implant and I tell her no, not yet. She nods and says that I would be a good candidate for one.

I go back into the room and Dave is still there. I fill him in on the test and again he just looks shocked – I know he was hoping for better news and I can see on his face that he’s feeling terrible about what’s happened. We talk briefly about the cochlear implant that the audiologist mentioned.

The doctor comes back in; the only way to describe the look on his face is “sorrowful”. I’m sure he hates this part of his job, having to tell people they are deaf and he can’t tell them why. He tells Dave again that my ears look perfectly fine – there’s no infection, no ear wax. This just happens and they don’t really know why – it could be from a virus, or just the fact that I had a progressive loss and we never realized before that it was progressive.

He tells me that there’s a small chance there could be swelling deep inside my ear, which they can’t see. Just in case, he’s starting me on a steroid regimen which would reduce that type of swelling and could restore my hearing (or some of it, anyway). He explains that I’ll start with a high dose and then taper off gradually over a period of about 11 days. He wants to see me again as soon as I’m done taking the steroids, to see if there’s been any change. I’m supposed to start the steroids the next day, because they need to be taken in the morning.
Dave asks about a cochlear implant and the doctor nods – yes, I’d be an excellent candidate for one, and it’s definitely an option for me if my hearing doesn’t return. Dave asks about cost and whether people get one implant or two, and the doctor smiles and says it’s really dependent on the insurance company. I can sense it’s a discussion he doesn’t want to get into just yet. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s busy (we are the only people in the office, but perhaps I’m the last patient of the day) or if it’s because he doesn’t want to jump the gun.

It seems more like he doesn’t want to declare this an absolute, permanent thing until I’ve tried the steroids. That’s fine with me!

I had done some research before (months ago) and found out that our state will provide hearing impaired and deaf individuals with special phones called CapTel phones. You talk into them and a relay operator types what the other person is saying into a window on the phone, which you can read. It would be perfect for both me and Dave, but to receive one you need certification from a doctor or audiologist that you are hearing impaired. We’ve had this request form floating around the house for the past couple of months and I realize hey…this is the perfect time to get it filled out!

I realize, though, that now I’m not comfortable with a CapTel phone. I can’t tell if I’m shouting or what I sound like. I’m a fast typist and really just prefer to type at this point. I decide to go with a request for a TTY instead. I’ve never even seen one before – certainly never used one – so it will be a new learning experience for me. Dave hates the phone as much as I do so I know he won’t mind using a TTY either.

I show the doctor the request form and ask if he can fill out the certification portion, which he’s happy to do. He explains that although he’s marking “permanent” on the form (under type of deafness) he really does consider it to be “intermittent” until we see how the steroids work. I think it’s nice that he takes the time to say that, to show that he hasn’t given up on me so quickly!

And with that, we are done. It’s been a very short visit, less than 45 minutes start to end. I had expected to be gone for 2 or 3 hours, at least. We get the Medrol prescription and walk out the door.

My only surprise and disappointment, looking back now, is the lack of support materials I received. I expected maybe a copied flyer or handout on how to deal with sudden deafness, resources available in the community (for instance, that phone/TTY deal which I found by accident on the internet months back). I know that I am amazingly lucky because I have a supportive family, I’m used to lip reading and can get by with that, and I work from home so I don’t have the stress of trying to do my job in an outside workplace as a suddenly-deaf adult. I wonder if I’m not offered any information because the doctor senses that I’m coping pretty well already, or is it because he wants to wait and see if it’s permanent? Still, going for 11 days as a newly deaf adult (until my next doctor’s appointment) would be terrifying for someone who can’t lip read. It seems like at least a sheet of tips on coping would be really helpful!

I talk to Dave about this and he feels that it’s a common thing – doctors want to do what they can to help your physical ailments, and move on to the next patient, with no time for helping you cope or deal with the day-to-day ramifications of your predicament. (He’s had a lot more experience with doctors and situations like this than I have.)

I also wondered if it had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t seen at the main office. This was clearly a small, “satellite” facility without even support staff. Maybe all their literature is kept at the other office. I’ll get a chance to find out on April 28, because I’ll be going there for my follow-up visit.

I’ve been on the Medrol for 5-1/2 days now with no change. I’m tapering back and am down to taking it twice a day now. I’m not disappointed – when I lost my hearing in my right ear in 1993, I did the same thing and took steroids with no change. I know it’s just a “try everything we can” approach and I’m glad for it, because it makes me feel like I really have done everything I could. I didn’t really have any confidence that it would work but I know it’s part of the treatment for sudden hearing loss.

So there it is…my first in what I suspect will be a long line of doctor’s appointments over the coming year.

Deafness Is Not Silent

At least it isn’t for me. I always imagined that being deaf was just like the way it’s portrayed in movies – they remove the audio completely and there’s a total absence of sound.

I have tinnitus all the time. I never walk around hearing absolutely nothing. I hear either the wind rushing in my ear, or the ocean roaring, or perhaps random beeps and high pitched tones. Most often it’s the wind tunnel effect.

I know tinnitus drives many people crazy, and it used to do the same to me. I’m used to it though and I think it makes me feel like I’m still “hearing” something … anything is better than nothing. So for once, I really don’t mind the tinnitus.

For me, tinnitus is usually a symptom that something’s wrong. I’m either on the verge of getting sick or I’m very stressed out. I’m not sure I’ll always have this tinnitus – it might just be because I lost my hearing so recently. In time maybe it will lessen or even go away. I don’t feel stressed out about my hearing loss now so I’m not sure if it’s stress-related…who knows, maybe I’m kidding myself and deep down I’m actually a basket case!

Hindsight is 20/20

It’s all so obvious now. All the little things that I noticed. I had no idea what they would add up to.

April 2008: Since the start of the month or so, I’ve been complaining that the TV sounds strange. Normally I hear bass sounds pretty well and treble sounds kind of bother me. Everything seems to sound more high-pitched, treble and “hissy”. It’s like the S-sounds of words are really drawn out and noticeable. I ask Dave if he changed the audio set-up on the TV, or if it sounds weird to him. During especially noticeable “weird spots” I’ll rewind and replay it, asking him if he hears the strange distortion. I can tell he doesn’t really hear it but he humors me and checks the audio to make sure nothing got changed by mistake. It hasn’t.

When we are in the car, everything sounds like it’s echoing. I decide that it’s because we haven’t driven in this car for so long, that’s why it sounds strange to me. (This is our second car, the “back-up”, which had been sitting dormant for a year or more until we got around to doing some needed repairs to get it back on the road.) I wonder if maybe the windows aren’t rolled up all the way and the road/wind noise is somehow making things sound strange.

Thursday, April 10: Now it’s really obvious something is wrong. I realize that I have raging tinnitus that I can hear even when my hearing aids are in. Usually the tinnitus is there first thing in the morning but disappears as soon as I put in my hearing aids. I’m certain that I must be coming down with something. There’s a flu bug going around causing high fevers and tinnitus is one of the first signs that I’m about to get sick. It’s my little warning flag.

Friday, April 11: Things are starting to sound really strange now, all the time. The tinnitus is there, 24/7. It sounds like I’m at the far end of a tunnel, exactly the way things sound when I have a high, high fever. But I’m not sick. I wonder if maybe I have ear wax in my ear so I clean my ear two, three, four times over the weekend. No change.

Sunday, April 13: Every day what I hear seems to be more far-away and high pitched. I’m struggling to make out words over the raging tinnitus that drowns out most sounds. It’s like taking the portion of a hearing test where they introduce the background sound in one ear as they test the other ear…all day long. I agree to let Dave call the doctor on Monday.

Monday, April 14: I convince myself that it’s a little better today. It’s definitely not worse, and why go through the trouble of a visit to a specialist for nothing?

By the end of the day….oh man. It’s definitely worse.

Tuesday, April 15: I wake up and as soon as I put the hearing aid in my “good” ear, I can tell. It’s so much worse. The feedback I usually hear if I put my hand over my hearing aid sounds so far away. It’s so hard to understand Dave and the kids when they talk. I can’t help myself – I’m terrified, and I start crying hysterically before the kids leave for school. I don’t want to go deaf!

Dave calls the doctor for me and there’s a 3 week wait at the regular office. They can get me in tomorrow at 1:30 at a smaller location, which is actually a little closer to our house.

Dave and I run errands during the afternoon and I notice how hard it is to hear Dave in Costco. At the video store, somebody repeatedly asks if I need help and I totally ignore them. I had no idea they were even speaking to me.

My hearing gets noticeably worse as the day wears on. By the time the evening winds down, I realize I am basically deaf.

Wednesday, April 16: The day of my appointment. I wake up, put my hearing aids in and there’s no change in what I hear. The only difference is that I can feel some vibrations if the aids are in…things like our dog barking and telephone ringing (with an extra-loud ringer) vibrate by my ears if I have the aids in. I still wear them because this tiny extra connection to sound calms me down. I realize now that I can’t hear my voice when I talk. This is the worst thing – am I yelling? Not talking loud enough? Do I sound strange or still like myself? All I hear is tinnitus. It’s like being inside a wind tunnel all day long.

Writing it all down makes it seem so obvious. Would it have mattered if I had seen a doctor sooner?

I don’t know what would be worse…going to the doctor sooner, trying the steroids and having the same outcome, but realizing as it’s happening that I am going deaf and can’t prevent it. Or waiting until it’s too late, blissfully unaware of what I was losing until it was gone.

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