Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Pardon Me, I Didn't Hear What You Said."

I have been hard of hearing for as long as I can remember.  It started decades ago, and it's gradually built into a real hardship now.  If I'm talking to someone and they are not facing me, I can't hear what they're saying.  When I'm attending meetings, I barely catch the conversations and I struggle to comprehend what is being discussed.  TV?  I turned on the closed captions at least two years ago, so my family wouldn't have to tolerate the volume required for me to hear the dialog clearly.

A few months ago, I realized that I couldn't continue to live like this and I had to do something.  I made an appointment with a doctor for an evaluation and hearing test.  I have always blamed my hearing loss on the fact that I am a child of the 70s, with loud music blaring through headphones, rock concerts, etc.  The hearing test showed some of this ... but it was mostly a mechanical problem called Otosclerosis, a condition that causes the little resonating bones of the middle ear to deteriorate and fuse.  Fused bones means that less sound from the outside world is received and transmitted.  Fortunately, this is a condition that can be surgically corrected ... and yesterday was my surgery day.

This operation known is as a Stapedectomy.  It's all done through the ear canal with a microscope.  The doctor removes the Stapes (anvil) and replaces it with a tiny prosthetic.  This is done under general anesthesia, as same-day surgery in my case, and it's quick (takes about an hour for the operation and three hours in the recover room afterward).

My daughter took this photo, when she saw that Ruby crawled up here all by herself, to snuggle and comfort her patient.


It's good to be the first surgery of the day.  We had to be at the clinic at 6:30am, with surgery scheduled for 7:30, and I was out of there and headed for home at 11:30 ... where I spent the rest of the day vegging and napping.


Normal ear anatomy.


My left ear was done yesterday, because it was significantly worse than the right one.  Today, I have no pain, which is a blessing.  What I do have is slight trouble with my balance, a lot like a mild drunken stagger, which we expected to happen since the surgery site is so close to the inner ear.  I also have a really weird feeling in my tongue, where I have reduced taste sensation and my mouth tastes like pennies, which the doctor also warned me about.  (A nerve that serves the tongue runs through where the doctor was working and it can get irritated as a result.)  Both of these issues should resolve themselves soon.


Stapedectomy procedure.


My follow-up appointment with the doctor is on Monday.

I can already tell that my hearing is better, and I have been promised that it will continue to improve as things heal.  I really wonder what's out there that I have missed hearing.  I most look forward to following conversations, and to turning off the captions on the TV.  

In a few months, I get to do this all over again with my right ear ... and I can't wait!

40 comments:

  1. Hooray for addressing your hearing! Most people put it off way too long. I hope your side effects go away soon. Puppy cuddles hasten the healing.

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    1. I am one of those people who put it off, and put it off, till it became a real hardship. I was shocked to get the results of my hearing test, and to find out just how little of the world I could hear. Puppies are the best medicine!

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  2. Dogs have a fine sense when something is wrong with us. Ruby's company must be so comforting.
    I wish you a speedy recovery and success with the other ear.

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    1. Ruby takes her job as nurse and companion very seriously. She has been right beside me, wherever I am, for the past two days. Recover is going very well so far. Thanks.

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  3. I hope your surgery for your ear and for the next one too is a grand success and that your hearing will be great. Yes, dogs and cats are great nurses.

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    1. I can't wait to see the doctor on Monday, to ask him how soon we can schedule to do my right ear.

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  4. Congratulations on your successful first surgery! Thanks for sharing your story with us, too. And aren't our dogs the best healers?? Warm wishes for a fast recovery.

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    1. Thanks! The dogs and the cats have all been taking turns keeping me company. I posted this with the hope that someone in my situation would google and find it, and see that surgery isn't scary and the results can be amazing.

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  5. Many CONGRATS on taking control of your life/health/earfulness .... you are an inspiration!

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    1. Inspiration is exactly what I was hoping to project with this post. So many people I know are living with hearing loss, without knowing the cause. I want to inspire folks to take charge of situation and get evaluated by a doctor. I was shocked (and grateful) to find that my solution was surgical.

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  6. I'm so glad that you've been able to get this fixed in a relatively easy way. Rest well, friend.

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    1. You know me ... resting is not something that I do naturally. For this, though, I have to make an effort.

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  7. Yay! I'm so glad you are already hearing better. So wonderful the things they can do for us now! Heal up and be careful with that balance.
    hugs,
    Linda

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    1. The balance issue is my reminder to take it easy. It’s not bad … just enough for me to have trouble walking a straight line, and I definitely have to hold onto the handrail when going up or down the stairs.

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  8. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Ruby knows how to take care of a patient--very sweet!

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    1. Recovery has been speedy so far! I should be completely good to go by the time I fly to Texas in a few weeks.

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  9. Connie, I'm so glad to hear this went well. Surgery is no fun, but so worth it to bring back the gift of hearing to you. Love when our furry friends comfort us like that. Such a cute photo!

    Take care! :)

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    1. I am surprised at how easy this surgery was, both in terms of time spent at the clinic and in recovery time afterward. Surgery has definitely evolved since I had my appendix removed in the 70s.

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  10. How wonderful!! What a terrific gift to give yourself. I hope you heal quickly and easily, and the the second surgery is as successful as this one. And welcome back to the world of sound!

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    1. The world of sound is a bit odd right now. Until this ear heals, I'm not going to get the full effect ... things are a bit distorted and I can't tell which direction sound is coming from. I hunted all over for the cordless phone yesterday afternoon whenever it would ring.

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  11. Happy healing!!! So glad all went well and you have such a wonderful couch mate!

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    1. Ruby is our first dog that we have allowed onto the furniture. She likes to curl up as close to her person as she can get. In this case, her person really appreciated the company.

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  12. What GREAT news! May you continue to heal, totally, and then experience the same with your other ear. This rates as some of the best news I've read/heard all day.

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    1. This IS awesome news. I truly went to the doctor believing that it was hearing aid time, and was thrilled to find that that wasn’t the answer. Surgery sounds drastic, but it was the simplest and best way to restore my hearing. As the doctor said, “This is mechanical and we can fix it.”

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  13. Well, good for you. May your recovery be swift and complete with full hearing and the second surgery successful as well.

    What a nice comforter Ruby was. :-)

    Happy Fall dear Connie ~ FlowerLady

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    1. I am amazed at how well I have bounced back from this surgery. If it wasn't for the slight vertigo, I'd be nearly 100%. Vertigo must be my reminder to take it easy and don't overdo.

      Ruby loves her people.

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  14. I never knew!! May you heal fast and always be amazed at what you will now hear! Hugs!!!

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    1. Very few people knew, because I became really good at reading lips. In my research, I found that that’s the case with a lot of people who have gradual hearing loss. Visual clues replace auditory ones, and we don’t realize how bad our hearing is until it reaches the point that mine did.

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  15. so happy for you.....wishing you a very speedy recovery...

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    1. Thanks, Carole! Recovery has been quite speedy so far ... and my balance is getting a little bit better each day. Good thing, because being cooped up in the house is about to make me go crazy.

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  16. Congratulations!! As the grandparents of a child born with severe hearing loss we know first hand the struggles that everyday life can present. It is so heart warming to know that you have been able to benefit from surgery. We wish you a successful recovery and continued good fortune.

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    1. I am very grateful that the solution to my hearing loss is so straight forward ... and, apparently, quite successful.

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  17. So Connie- this is just one more parallel with us. My hearing issues were caught when I was in kindergarten- 25% loss each side as of the last hearing check. I too, can't "hear" unless people are facing me and I can "read" their lips. Ironically, my bf has hyper sensitive-bionic hearing and my volume makes her crazy!
    -Hope your surgery and recovery goes a lot faster than mine has been-
    -LUV the pic of you and Ruby-
    -I wonder if the info you shared might be some answer for me too-?
    Catherine

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    1. We live parallel lives, my dear. There was a part of my hearing test where I had to wear what felt like a sideways headband. That sent the test sounds to the skull behind my ear, instead of through the air into the ear canal. I could hear that part of the test way better than the rest. Does this sound like something you have had done?

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  18. How amazing to learn that your hearing issues can be fixed this "easily"! Surgery is not easy per se, but to have a one-time fix is just wonderful. I'm excited for you!

    Shirley

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    1. I was so thrilled to find out that my hearing loss has a surgical fix! Yesterday I realized that this is the second time I have had surgery on one of my senses … lasik eye surgery to correct my near-sightedness in 1999, now hearing surgery. Ain’t it great what science can do!!

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  19. Oh my goodness!
    Here's the post that I somehow missed.
    :(
    But I'm so glad things are going well and that you will be able to HEAR!
    :)
    YAY!
    XOXOXO

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  20. I am glad this has worked for you, and good luck with the other ear. Sounds like we are both in that age where things break, but can still be fixed.

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  21. Thanks for sharing this! I'm having a stapedectomy tomorrow, and found you through googling "stapedectomy recovery." I'm glad to see stories where it seems to have worked well!

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    1. Sarah, this surgery has been life-changing for me!! I never did have pain. The pain killers that the Dr. prescribed are still in the cupboard. I couldn't drive for a little over a week after surgery because my balance was funky. The longest-lasting after affect was the taste thing. It's just now that things are beginning to taste right. For me, it's more than a fair trade-off for being able to hear so much better.

      I still haven't done the other ear. I hope to schedule that later in the year. Dr. said that it's my decision, depending on when I want to do it. I will, mostly because I have a lot of trouble telling the direction of sound ... because one ear hears so much better than the other now. Also, I had to be REALLY careful blowing my nose, so I certainly won't be scheduling it during seasonal allergy time. :)

      I wish you the best with your surgery tomorrow. You are welcome to email me if you have questions or need a bit of reassurance. connie@hartwoodroses.com

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