I can hear you now
Tuesday December 01st 2009, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare

Remember when I came to out of surgery in August and the first thing I saw was a group of doctors surrounding the foot of my bed talking to me? Trying to get me to answer their questions?  Their mouths were moving but there was no sound.  Nada.  I groggily asked for my hearing aids, put them in, fumbled the battery cases closed and turned the things on…

And heard nearly nothing still.

Nobody had any idea why. This was not supposed to happen.

Things got somewhat better; then, on my last day in the hospital, I was given a dose of Dilaudid when taking my surgical tube out proved extremely painful–and as that dose went into my IV, it was like turning the volume down on the voices around me with an ever-so-slight time delay.  The Dilaudid. Busted.

I put off getting my hearing tested. I wanted to give my ears recovery time.  But mostly, I wanted not to believe I’d permanently lost more of my hearing, and if I waited, and it was so, then there could be no arguing with it.

There is now no more arguing with it: I finally got in to see John Miles today.   It’s a 5dB loss across the board, all frequencies, both ears, except for one holdout at 1KhZ in one ear that stayed the same.  Mind you, I had already become someone who didn’t hear train whistles or fire alarms most of the time without those aids in.

I handed them to him. He plugged them into his computer  and cranked up the volume.  It’s painful at times–but worth it.  I could tell the difference the instant I put them back on while John spoke. I could hear the words again! The consonants* were back!

I drove home exulting at being able to again hear music playing clearly, cranked up high to try to drive out of my brain the horribly kitschy Helen Reddy greatest hits album I had the great misfortune to listen to last week because a friend was throwing it away and I thought I’d give nostalgia a kick, deaf or no. (I know. I liked it when I was 12, too.  Some of the songs were okay, but some–I won’t even tell you the names of those earworms. I’m nicer than that.)

I have smart friends….  I woke up at 5 am with the worst of the earworms singing away gleefully at perfect pitch.  Nooooo…!  I listened to everything today from Camel to Christmas carols.  Cleanse, brain, cleanse!

I still say this hearing thing is worth it.


*Consonants, which are made with the tongue against the teeth, are higher-pitched than vowels, which are made reverberating in the throat, and so the consonants are the first to disappear in a high-frequency loss, which is what most older people have. This is why people sound to them like they’re mumbling.  They’re missing pieces of the words.  That previous sentence would then be “e i i e i o e o.”

Me, I’ve been older since my teens.

19 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You may have just answered the reason why I accuse all my family of ‘mumbling’! I have known I have a ‘high frequency hearing loss’ for years – at least 12 – 15, but I thought their speaking was just not careful enough, I just want them to speak each word quite separately so that I can hear the words.

Working in the kitchen with the radio going, the rangehood going, and me facing an opposing wall, or looking out to the back garden, I am unable to hear people in another room.

Comment by StellaMM 12.01.09 @ 11:58 pm

Alison, you haven’t been old since the age of 12, you just went extreme measures to have more sensitive touch sense. Helps with the knitting. 😉

Comment by Serena 12.02.09 @ 12:16 am

I love the comment from Serena!!!

One of my favorite quotes comes from a computer game (an ex-boyfriend was playing, not I): “Once a man has changed the relationship between himself and his environment, he cannot return to the blissful ignorance he left. Motion of necessity involves a change in perspective.”

As many would, I find it takes time to get use to the new knowledge – be it positive or not so positive… But adaptation is the key, isn’t it?

Enjoy the music! 🙂

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 12.02.09 @ 6:46 am

You and meeeeee….against the world….. 🙂

Comment by (formerly) no-blog-rachel 12.02.09 @ 7:44 am

Wishing you a speedy transition. At least you have knowledge and experience (and a good team) on your side!

Comment by Channon 12.02.09 @ 7:56 am

I am glad to know you are getting all this figured out. Now you won’t have to be telling everyone to “speak up”.

Comment by sherry in idaho 12.02.09 @ 8:03 am

I am sorry about your additional hearing loss, but glad your hearing aides have been adjusted to compensate, for the most part.
I’m off to see my parents today, it has been months.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 12.02.09 @ 8:32 am

Computer adjustments are worlds better than new hearing aids! Glad they could accommodate you.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 12.02.09 @ 8:47 am

I just got a package of knitted finger puppets from Peru that I bought through ebay. They’re very cute. The only one that didn’t appeal to me much was the spider man puppet. I prefer the animals and the real people. But that was the first one I gave away. The three year old who tries to stay out of trouble (sort of) while his single mother tries to sing during choir practice, was spider man for Halloween. I handed him the puppet and he recognized it immediately and it kept him (mostly) entertained until we were done.

Comment by LauraN 12.02.09 @ 9:17 am

I think we all should have our hearing tested regularly. Anyway, I’m so glad you’re hearing everything again. Too bad there’s no such thing as “selective hearing”! Ha! I can think of a few things I’d zone out. . . .

Comment by Karen 12.02.09 @ 1:08 pm

Ooooh, so nice to have your hearing back! Do your aids have volume control?

I think I’ve already told this joke, but it seems appropriate here:
About the elderly gentleman who was fitted with hearing aids and told to come back in a month to be sure they were adjusted properly. When the gentleman returned, the doctor asked him, “What does your family think of your new aids?” “Oh, I haven’t told them,” said the gentleman. “I’ve changed my will three times in the past month.”

Comment by Don Meyer 12.02.09 @ 2:54 pm

Enjoy the music, watch out for meds (unusual for Dilaudid, much more common from diuertics and aminoglycosides (class of anti-biotics)).
Very glad you still have options.

Comment by Holly 12.02.09 @ 3:57 pm

Music is always great to liston but even more so this time of the year. Glad you are figuring it all out.

Comment by Joansie 12.02.09 @ 5:41 pm

I sent this to my mother, who among other things is an audiologist. She thought it was very interesting. Not unheard-of and good that you figured out the cause of the temporary loss.

We’ve been trying to get my grandmother to try hearing aids. Only if they come with matched sets of earrings or studs, I’m afraid.

Comment by Margo Lynn 12.02.09 @ 5:58 pm

How about the leopard-print hearing aids? I’m serious, there are some.

Comment by AlisonH 12.02.09 @ 8:15 pm

Consonants are evil honey and throw e in for good measure:

e, d, p, t, g, v, b, z are all WAY too close to the same sound to get through to me on a good day.

Curious as to what your speech recognition scores are. And the same for me with train whistle and fire alarms.

Old when young sucks sometimes, and mine started when I was 9.


Comment by Tiny Tyrant 12.03.09 @ 5:31 pm

hey, nice to know you were ahead of the curve even then!

Comment by marti 12.04.09 @ 8:13 am

Glad you can hear better these days. I have a great aunt who has had problems with her hearing since she was a child. Now I understand what she hears (or doesn’t.)

Comment by Alicia 12.04.09 @ 11:21 am

Yeah, I use the words ‘bar’ and ‘car’ to illustrate the importance of consonants to people.

Comment by Carol 12.05.09 @ 2:00 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>