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.