Discovering Why I Have Lost My Hearing–Stage 1

A retracted ear drum is often caused by the Eustachian Tube to the throat being closed. This is often caused by an upper respiratory infection or chronic allergies. I went to the doctor last Friday to get a referral to a hearing specialist because of my current realization that I have lost some hearing and it is now affecting my life negatively (See Previous Post–What Did You Say?).

I did not expect that my primary physician would see or discover anything on his own before even giving me a referral.

After listening to my complaints, he looked into my ears. He noticed that my left one had so much wax in it, he couldn’t even see my eardrum. So initially we thought, maybe it was just that.

I was hopeful. I had this happen before. I remember about 8 years ago, needing to get that same ear, irrigated because I could not get water out of it from swimming. My doctor then noticed the same issue. After irrigating it out with warm water and hydrogen peroxide, she said it looked like my canal was shaped funny. She said she had a hard time even seeing in because of the way it was shaped, which explained why my body had a hard time getting rid of the wax.

And I remember having a similar issue about 13 or 14 years ago when I was in college. I had some ear pain though. Went to the doctor. He looked in and saw all this wax. After he removed some wax he looked at my ear drum and said, “Wow. Did you have a lot of ear infections when you were a kid? You ear drum is really scarred.”

I asked my mom.

She said yes.

When a hand is pressed on a drum, it doesn't vibrate well. Same with a retracted eardrum. So for the 3rd time in 13 years, I had my ear flushed out. But this time, the doctor saw something different. He looked in and did not notice a scarred ear drum. He didn’t see an ear drum at all. Mine was “retracted.” That’s a medical term meaning that it was sucked up into my head. He said that could explain why I was struggling with my hearing. That a retracted ear drum acts like a hand pressed on a drum. The drum cannot vibrate well.

So I asked my next question—why is my ear drum retracted? I guess there are a number of possible causes. 

1. Allergies. Which I do have. Between dust and cats and pollen, I often am sneezing. I’m not stuffed up all the time, like my husband. But I’ll go into a room and something will bother my nose and next thing I know, I’m drippy and sneezing. Then it will go away a little while later. He said that consistent allergies can lead the tube from my nose to my ear to close up, preventing my ear from distributing pressure equally on both sides of my ear drum. The pressure in my head can’t come out my nose if the tube closes up and so sucks my ear drum in. I read in an internet article that loud music can cause the tube to close up too. I’ve definitely had my fair share of that in my past.

Possible Solution-Steroidal Nose Spray. I’ve got to spray it in my nose once a day and after a few days, its supposed to open up that tube and hopefully pop my eardrum back out. He said it would take about 5 days to start working. I’m on day 4 today and haven’t noticed anything. What I did notice is that the spray did not hurt my right nostril–shot up just fine. My breathing on that nostril was perfect too. I noticed my left nostril hurt when I sprayed it. And I noticed it felt full and while I could breath out of it, definitely could not breath as well. So maybe there is something to this.

He said it could also explain why I have wax build up in the ear too. My ear may be making more wax to protect itself. I did notice that since he took out the wax, my ear actually hurts now. I now have learned that ear pain is a common side effect of a retracted ear drum. The wax somehow helped that. So now I have this full sensation. And pain.

But I suspect maybe there is something more.

Because if it is just the ear drum on my left ear, why do I struggle to also hear out of right ear? I mean, I hear better out of that ear, but I still struggled to hear my voice mail using my right ear today while in class when there was just regular background noise from two people having a conversation near by.

So unless one ear drum tube issue can cause issues in both ears, I suspect this ear drum problem is exasperating another problem I may have.

But the doctor told me to use the spray and see if it helps. If not, I’ll come in and take an auditory test. And then he will refer me to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor to take the next steps.

I’m hopeful that this spray will help. I do not want a hearing aid.

And my biggest fear is that my hearing will slowly get worse. And that one day I will be completely deaf. It makes me want to cry when I think of that. I need to stop as I’m getting teary eyed this moment even writing those words. I don’t want to stop hearing the sound of my children’s voices. Of my husband’s thoughts. Of music. Of birds or the ocean. And how would I even teach anymore? I remember last year, I had a conversation with our ASL teacher on campus. She was once an engineer. Then lost hearing after a water skiing accident. Had to change her career. Learn ASL. She can’t hear anything anymore. And her own brother won’t learn ASL so he can speak to her because it would “just” be her he would need to learn it for. On the bright side, she now has a new career as an ASL teacher. But it was a complete career change that took time and a scary road.

In the end, I have to fight the WORRIER inside of me and remind myself that I am a WARRIOR. That with God’s grace and purpose for my life, he will not let me be abandoned or alone in the silence. I can problem solve. I can pray. I can fight this. I will be ok. 

Theresa means Reaper, but I think my name should mean Warrior.Thank God he gave me a love for the written word over the spoken. If the sound goes out, I’ll still be able to see and read.

I pray it doesn’t. But if that is God’s plan for my sanctification, I need to trust that it is for my good. That in the silence, maybe he will help me hear what I couldn’t hear in all the noise before.

Until then, here’s to these nasal drops.

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