Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I can’t hear you March 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:01 AM
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COULD SOMEONE PLEASE answer the phone, turn off the radio and fix the potholes?

That isn’t going to happen. Not for me now, anytime soon or perhaps ever.

Welcome to my new world of ringing telephones, annoying transistor radios and bothersome potholes. I’ll explain after giving you some background.

Three weeks ago I suffered a sudden sensory hearing loss. One minute I could hear mostly fine in my right ear. The next minute it was as if someone had closed the door to my hearing.

At this point, why I suddenly lost 70 percent of the hearing in my right ear remains an unknown. It could be related to an ear trauma three years ago at a Wisconsin waterpark where a waterfall pounded my head. That caused permanent nerve damage, and some hearing loss, to my right inner ear. Or it could be the result of a viral infection, or something else.

Whatever the cause, I now have only 30 percent of my hearing in my right ear.

Thus, the ringing telephone, the transistor and the problem potholes have become issues for me. It’s not like I didn’t try to eliminate all three.

I tried a 10-day mega dose of inflammation-reducing steroids in an attempt to salvage some, if not all, of my hearing. The Prednisone didn’t work, only made me jittery, sleepless and emotional. I noticed no improvement in my hearing. The drug is typically most effective within 48 hours of symptom onset and my treatment started long after that.

I see a specialist next week to recheck my hearing and perhaps get some answers.

I took this photo of my eyes last week when I wasn't getting much sleep due to the effects of my steroid treatment. I'm still having sleep issues.

For now, I’ve accepted the fact that this is my new world of hearing. Sometimes the tinnitus is so bad that I joke to my husband, “Can you please answer the telephone?” Only problem, the telephone is inside my right ear.

As for the transistor, those of you old enough to remember transistor radios will also recall how they were often plagued by poor reception resulting in lots of static. I’m hearing that type of static now in my right ear more often than I like.

With my “bad” right ear I hear just “noise,” nothing as clear or distinct as an individual word.

Driving over an uneven roadway surface, like a pothole or a crack, hurts my ear with the thump echoing unpleasantly inside my ear.

I’m trying to adjust to this hearing loss. But, honestly, it’s not always easy. I can barely tolerate the organ music in church and singing isn’t too much fun any more.

My right ear, in which I've lost 70 percent of my hearing due to a sudden sensory hearing loss.

But most difficult for me, like anyone with a hearing loss, is the inability to clearly hear conversations. And for me, a blogger and writer, that’s a very big deal. I need to hear, and hear accurately.

All too often I find myself asking others to speak louder. I’m sure they’re thinking, “Why doesn’t she just get a hearing aid?” It’s not that simple. An audiologist and an ear/nose/throat doctor have told me that a hearing aid will not help, not with this type of hearing loss.

Put me in a room full of people, and I struggle to hear.

The other night while waiting in a check-out line at the grocery store, I was frustrated because I couldn’t hear everything the young male checker in the lane next to me was telling the bagger. He was offering her relationship advice, something about his fiancée who’d gone to college on the East Coast and who’d cheated on him. I caught the advice about hanging on to someone you care about and to, basically, not mess it up. It would have been a great blog topic, but I couldn’t hear enough of the conversation to accurately pull together a post. My days of eavesdropping may have ended with this sudden sensory hearing loss.

Despite all of this, I realize my health issues could be much worse and that many people suffer from severe hearing losses.

Like all other challenges I’ve faced in my life, I’ll adjust, adapt, accept and move on.

Yet, if I feel the need to cry, which I have several times already, I’ll cry.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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