Ear Update

Three weeks from today, I’ll be getting surgery on my left ear. I’m taking a week off from work, and Kevin is taking time off with me, which was very thoughtful of him to suggest. During that time, we plan to watch a season or two of “ER” and eat junk food, assuming I feel much like eating anything. He and Christina are going with me the day of, and it’s out-patient, so I don’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. I am very grateful they are willing to take the day to be with me. We are sooo getting a giant dinner the night before, since I can’t eat the day of.

When I wake up, I’ll find out whether the surgery has permanently damaged my hearing or not. My doctor, who I fully trust, keeps reminding me that this is mostly irrelevant, since my new hearing aids (which I will be picking up the week after next) should be able to accommodate either way.

This is all well and good for my doctor to say, but since I’ll be the one hearing or not hearing, I would hardly say it’s irrelevant. The prospect of being more dependent on hearing aids than I already am is a daunting one, and while I am very glad this surgery will keep this problem from killing me and all, I’d love to keep what diminished hearing I have left intact for as long as possible. But this makes me sound ungrateful, doesn’t it?

The silver lining is, if the surgery goes as planned, I may be able to have a second procedure done 6-12 months later where I’ll be fitted with some badass titanium inner ear parts which are supposed to improve my hearing. That’s the best case scenario, so I’m really holding on to that possibility.

I had a similar surgery, but the “old-fashioned” version, when I was 11 or 12. It was on my other (right) ear, which I’m practically deaf in, and avoid using whenever possible. There’s not really any way to know for sure, but it’s possible that surgery may have made my hearing as bad as it is on that side. It was always my worse ear, but my doctor now acknowledges that the surgery may have adversely affected it, which is common.

On my left ear, I’ll be getting the “new” kind of surgery, which has less of a chance of diminishing my hearing. However, my doctor says there’s always the chance that once I’m unconscious and he gets all up in there, he may need to downgrade to the old-fashioned, potentially-damaging method. And with this method, there’s no possibility for those titanium ear bits to look forward to later.

I’ll have no idea which way it goes down until I wake up after the fact, when it’s too late to go back. That is going to be the thought that bothers me in these weeks leading up to it.

My family and friends have been extremely supportive in the last few months as I struggled to find out what’s been wrong with me, and in helping me through the process of getting my new hearing aids.

As a 25 (and almost 26)-year-old supposed adult, I still am unsure of what I want to be when I grow up. But the more I think about it, the more I want to do something to assist the hearing-impaired community. I don’t know whether this would be by working for a non-profit committed to deaf services or going to school to become an audiologist, but there’s a sense of urgency coming at me now with this idea. I am passionate about a lot of things — writing, editing video, helping others… but this seems to be what speaks to me loudest now.

THIS I can hear.

Until recent months, I rarely thought about my hearing loss because it so seldom seemed to me me to be a problem at all. My hearing aids, since I was a teenager, essentially took care of what I needed. Other than putting them in every morning and having to change the occasional battery in public, my life has been inconvenienced very little by what most would probably consider a handicap. It made me happy whenever people said, upon first noticing my hearing aids, that they had no idea I was hard of hearing. I was passing. Sure, I had trouble sometimes in crowded restaurants, but it was nothing like it is now, where I can barely follow a conversation in a crowded room. Now I feel disabled for the first time in years, and I have to say I am not a fan.

But this has opened my eyes to how lucky I am, and it’s a reminder that others are not nearly so lucky. I want to be there to help them in some capacity.

Kevin and I have been talking about taking sign language classes. I’ve always wanted to learn, but now I feel like doing so will in some way prepare me for whatever I choose to devote my future career to. I just have to figure out what career that’s going to be.

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2 thoughts on “Ear Update

  1. You should look into doing some writing or video/video editing or simply getting involved with ASHA: http://www.asha.org/ — they are AWESOME. You are so super talented that I’m sure there are a million ways to get involved if you decide you don’t want to go into audiology (coughcoughSOMUCHSCHOOL <–says the girl who bailed out of her AuD). Or if you wanted a little less school commitment, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can do a lot lot lot of work with hard of hearing children in schools or clinics. Let me know if you ever wanna chat about it! 🙂

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