I've now gone over a month without hearing much of anything, which seems like an excellent time to reflect on sounds I miss...
I miss voices. Real voices. Not the ones my mind makes up.
I miss the sound of running water. Faucets. Creeks. Waves on the shore.
I miss the sound of my nephew's laughter and giggles.
I miss music. A soundtrack other than my own.
I miss the aural squinting of trying to hear what you're saying.
August 6th, I get evaluated for a cochlear implant. I'm kinda hoping they say yes...
I think the lack of sound is upsetting my head. I'm kinda light headed lately. While on vacation, we were in the pool at a hotel. I need a "hand stand and roll" in the pool... and when I rolled upside down, I felt an immense dizzy wave wash over me. Ugh.
I miss walking around without pain. I miss even being able to walk fast. Jog a little.
I miss riding my bike SO much. I miss walking around the store.
I miss NOT having the use a freaking cane.
I miss NOT being stared at whenever I go somewhere. I'm like a freaking celebrity. I'm not Brad Pitt. Really. Stop looking at me just because I'm using a Knee Walker.
Well, I'm back from the ENT. It was an odd visit...
The Dr. was cool. Both of them communicated rather well, considering my totally deaf state.
I took a hearing test, and for the first time ever, they adapted the test for tinnitus. Instead of a single tone, they used a triple tone. This made it easier to determine what was a tone and what was tinnitus. As a result, my hearing test results look better than any I've taken in 20+ years. Still very bad, but not AS bad, ya know?
Some possibility they're looking at Superior Canal Dehiscence, which basically means that some bone is missing in my head, and that means sounds are directly exposed to the inner ear canal, which creates terrible pressure resulting in dizziness and nausea. It's "fixable" with surgery, mainly 'bone glue/cement', where they patch the hole... Sounds like fun, yeah?
He also gave me an awesome description of what Tinnitus means in my case... it's like someone who gets their arm or leg cut off or blown off. Soldiers who come home from war, having the legs blown off, sometimes/oftentimes feel pain in a limb that doesn't exist. Called ghost pain, or phantom pain. It's the brain saying "I know you're supposed to be there, but you're not, so that hurts". Well, tinnitus is my brain saying "where's the rest of it? I know there's supposed to be more sound, so let me fill in the gaps." It's called subjective tinnitus.
Now, this COULD be fixable... with a cochlear implant. The cochlear implant processes sound differently. The sound is presented from a different source. But there is no guarantee until we "open the package" (go through the surgery and turn on the device). But the cochlear implant at it's source will provide a more extreme level of amplification. It will not be "normal".
It can take up to 2 years to reach a "plateau of normal" with the cochlear. If I install that thing, my life will be chaotic for quite a while as I adapt.
My lady made a point for me today:
You should feel lucky. You have a job, and you have health insurance which will pay for it. You have a job that will let you take the time you need to do this.
God, I'm a lucky man to have that woman.
So, this week, I got sick on Monday. It only lasted a few hours, and i felt better.
I worked Tuesday, and worked a gangbuster 10.5 hrs on Wednesday with almost nothing to eat. On Wednesday evening, I was going to head to the bar at 9pm with my lady, and before that, I took my dad out to dinner for Prime Rib at Paige's (only $7.50 on Wednesday).
We sit down, we order. It's loud in the there. I'm talking to my dad and all of a sudden... the whole damn world loses perspective and starts to swirl, like chocolate syrup in a large cup of vanilla ice cream.
I break out in a massive sweat. Within minutes, I've sweat through my shirt. Ugh. I'm so damn sick to my head, my stomach... and still hungry. I try to eat some, but I get through half of it. I tell my dad we gotta get outta here ASAP.
We head home, and i get in the house as quickly as I can, and distance hurl just barely making it to the toilet. I spend the next 45 minutes heaving my guts out.
Then I go to sleep from 8pm to 12am. I miss my date with my lady. I hate that.
I go into work the next day. The world is still unsteady and my stomach feels completely wrong, like it's tumbling down into itself. So I leave at 11am, which means I missed an important meeting. Alas.
I get to the Dr office at 11:30am and they see me. I speak with a nurse, give her my symptoms... then I see a Doctor (not my regular doctor). They tell me it sounds like Stomach Flu. So I'll treat it as stomach flu...
Well, Saturday morning, I decided to turn my hearing aids on... the tinnitus starts.
That's when it hits me:
The WAVES of tinnitus exactly match the waves of nausea. I don't think it started in my stomach. It started in my head. My brain is overwhelmed with the tinnitus, which brought of massive vertigo.
That's it, folks. I. Am. Deaf.
Not hard of hearing.
I. Am. Deaf.
I cannot use my hearing aids anymore.
I need to get an appointment with an ENT that won't throw me out the door. We'll try that on Monday. And hopefully they have some answers for me.
I need to find someone to tutor me in Sign Language.
Will my family still love me?
Will my workplace still work with me?
Will my loved ones get pissed off because I can't hear them?
Will my nephew understand why Uncle Mike hardly ever responds to what he says? Will he understand?
My ears are broken, not my heart.