It’s been a challenging few weeks! Two weeks ago I woke up with no hearing in my left ear. There were no prior warning signs that anything was wrong, and gone are the days of being out at loud rock concerts to cause damage to the ears from screeching music stars. It had been over a week since I’d flown and for once we had an early night the previous night. Whilst I was sure that the issue was minor, my husband forced me to go and see a GP to have it looked at given that I was well and the symptoms were abnormal.
The GP at the local Medical Centre was concerned and gave me a course of steroids to start but I really had cause for alarm a few days later when I saw my regular GP and he spent up to an hour examining me and calling every Ear Nose and Throat specialist in Sydney to find one who could see me the next day. After a series of auditory exams and tests he confirmed that I was deaf in the left ear and had a condition called Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. The prognosis was not good – and many with this condition never hear again from the ear again. This was declared a medical emergency!
You can imagine my shocked reaction – there’s nothing rational about waking up deaf in an ear! And to be a medical condition that had to be put down to “we don’t know why it happens” left too many questions unanswered. We started on a course of steroids and have just had to wait (something those of you who know me well know is not one of my strong points) to see how the body reacted. The instinct to become Dr. Google kicked in and I found myself researching every known article about the condition – surely there had to be something I could do, but everything I read confirmed I was on the only known course of treatment and this was still one of those medical conditions where very little was known so we just had to persevere and see what each new day brought.
Senses were a whirlwind – I’d stand in the playground with the children of a morning and not be able to hear other conversations from parents, my phone would ring and the background noise would mean I would not hear it, and simple things that you take for granted were difficult as the senses tried to adjust to operating differently. To make things more challenging I had tinnitus in the ear with a constant whistling sound at a high pitch that made sleep difficult and brought on migraine like headaches.
Despite a grim prognosis initially, the odds seem to be on my side. Late last week we saw some improvements and whilst there’s still a few weeks till I see the specialist again my hearing has returned slightly (maybe at 50% of what it was) and the Tinnitus disappeared over the weekend. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am and what a relief it is to be gradually seeing an improvement!
It’s easy to take our health for granted and try and fit as much in our day as possible, thinking that we’re invincible and just persevering and pushing ahead. Yet, it’s been a stark word of warning for me that we’re not invincible and sometimes the little things in life that we take for granted are worth sitting back and enjoying.
Why am I telling you this story? Because it’s forced me to stop and re-evaluate and remember the importance of the little things in life. I kept reminding myself that despite the prognosis there were far worse things that could have happened – cancer diagnosis, total deafness – so much worse conditions that others face. Yet it would have taken some adjusting. I have been fortunate, but if I had not have sought medical advice early, we’re sure that the results would be permanent and I’d be facing a different outcome. If there’s any lesson here it’s to seek treatment early and if there’s something abnormal, don’t wait to get it seen to – make it your absolute priority to have checked out immediately. What’s to lose?
The old saying “Take the time to stop and smell the roses” might be a cliché but it’s as relevant as ever – make a phone call to a friend for a chat, listen to the world around you and whisper I love you to the most important people in your life. You just never know what tomorrow will bring….