Saturday, January 23, 2010

on this day ...

taking a corner

On this day two years ago I caught a flu virus. I was visiting family back home in Scotland. My husband had just flown back to work in Canada and I was in sole charge of the Wee Guy. It sucks being ill away from homebase but I was lucky in that I was staying with my sister.

Everyone had been sick with the flu that christmas. I was just waiting my turn! Instead of fevers, aches and respiratory symptoms the virus made its way to my inner ear then proceeded to chew thru my auditory nerve (cranial nerve VIII; vestibulocochlear for the curious among you). At first I felt a mild sense of anxiety and with annoyance realised that my right ear was congested. Over the next half hour I lost hearing in my right ear . An hour later I was crawling along the floor unable to stand straight. The next morning I started vomiting everytime I moved position. This lasted for almost a month, including my flight back home.

Ladies (gents?), may I introduce acute viral labyrinthitis, an uncommon complication of influenza (yes, I get vaccinated annually now!) which rarely leads to permanent complications. In this case, "rarely" meant other people.

I miss stereoscopic hearing the most. I cannot tell from what direction a sound is coming. I cannot find my wee guy in our house if he yells for me. I have nightmares about losing him, hearing him and not finding my way to him. I get dirty looks from pedestrians I bump into who come up on me on my "blind" side.

I miss conversation. Listening takes a lot of energy, especially when you stubbornly remain on my deaf side. It sucks going in to a noisy bar or whatever to meet friends. I don't enjoy meeting new people cos I can't hear what they are saying, and permanent tinnitus smothers comprehension. Selling at craft fairs is exhausting!

I'm now immune to sideways looks when I sway or overbalance. Rollerblading isn't as much fun anymore but I can stay upright on ice skates. I've tried climbing again (seems OK) and have started fencing (a bit wobbly behind the mask). I'm not very good on ladders, changing lightbulbs or tipping my head back, but I can now lie down in bed at night without a wave of nausea spilling over me.

I miss hearing music in stereo though I can "feel" bass rhythms in my deaf ear. My singing voice sounds weird to me.

Pretty much the pity party, huh? ....... Not so.
  • I'm much more aware of sound being a "felt" sensation which adds more depth to music. I've discovered that there is so much more to be gained from live music recitals; it's now more of a whole body experience. My deaf ear 'vibrates' when it is listening.
  • I don't have to listen to people who bore me ......
  • My balance is actually really good because I'm constantly working on it rather than taking it for granted. I'm very aware of positioning and movement.
  • Under water I'm equally deaf in both ears
  • I'm braver socially now (I think) - I really do have to pull back my shoulders, smile and walk into that room because once I'm in there I have a whole lot of work to do listening, positioning, leaning in, to join in with a conversation. It's also easier to be out by myself since I am literally in my own little world! While some shy people sweat over what they might use as an opening gambit, my small talk is, "Let me move you to my good ear so I can hear you" which is a great icebreaker! I've been given a recent ear-bashing (ho ho) on talking about my ailments but it's been a great way of connecting with others similarly afflicted. Partial deafness is invisible and permanent vertigo often misconstrued - sharing experiences with others is a great way of coping and learning.
  • I can't always hear the phone ring = less disturbance during the day (likewise can also 'answer' the phone with my right ear and quite truthfully say "I can't hear you".
... and I can turn my 'good' ear to the pillow to blot out extraneous noises for a good night's sleep.

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