I have a confession to make. No, not that type of confession. I have been dealing with something for a while and it’s about time I told you about it. You see, I’ve been losing my hearing progressively over the last several years. I first noticed it about seven years ago when co-workers complained that I was talking louder than usual.
I looked for a place to do a hearing test in the phone book; I found a hearing aid store that did free testing. After the test, I was told I had about a 30% hearing loss in my left ear and that I should see an audiologist. I made an appointment and the audiologist confirmed the hearing loss.
I was set up to take an electronystagmography (ENG) test. What I remember about this test is that it was long (45 minutes to an hour) and they placed little balloons in my ear canals, alternately filling them with cold and warm water. They had trouble with filling the balloon in the left ear; the pressure created intense pain. I had been instructed to not eat the morning of the test and warned that I may have some dizziness afterwards. Dizziness and lack of food was not a good combination.
The doctor looked over my test results and diagnosed me with Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s is an inner ear disorder, occurring when the canals get swollen with fluid. The exact cause is unknown, although some theories are: middle ear infections, allergies, and stress.
Meniere’s is a progressive disease. The hearing loss usually starts in one ear, but can move to the other ear and worsen over time. Some other symptoms can be:
- dizziness and severe vertigo
- nausea and vomiting
- ringing in the ears
I’ve had all of those symptoms at some time or another. My hearing loss is the most significant. In the last year or two, my right ear has been affected as well. I have to look people in the eye in order to be able to follow a conversation. Talking on the phone is extremely uncomfortable; I try to limit phone calls to friends and family. If I have to make other calls, I utilize a service such as IP-Relay.
One of the first things that affects the hearing with Meniere’s is the quality of low-frequency sounds. I often can’t hear the phone ring; thankfully I was able to customize it with ringtones I can hear. If only I wouldn’t leave it on vibrate… I have also had some disasters with sinks overflowing; I couldn’t tell that the water was still running. Luckily, we have some very alert cats. So there you have it. My big secret.i guess I should start brushing up on sign language.
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