I had to go to the doctors today to get my hearing checked as I have noticed some changes. It is very hard because when I was about 20 years old I just suddenly went deaf in my left ear – no warning – it just went. I remember the sensation was very strange and it was quite frightening. I went straight to the doctors who then rushed me straight to hospital. I had to stay in hospital for about 3 days while they gave me lots of different treatments and special drugs that could sometimes get the hearing back if given quick enough. Unfortunately my hearing didn’t come back at all – I had lots of tests, had to have brain scans and spent a lot of time shut in those sound proof rooms with all kinds of gadgets which monitored my hearing loss and tested my hearing. The doctors couldn’t give me an explanation as to why it had happened, other than it wasn’t a brain tumour or anything like that. They said it can sometimes happen to people and it could have been caused by a number of things. They said that there was no camera invented that was small enough to look inside my ear properly and see what had happened. The hearing had just completely and suddenly gone and no kind of hearing aid would help as there was nothing left working to amplify sound. The doctors gave several suggestions and ideas to what might have happened, they said it could be some kind of auto-immune disease where my body had attacked itself (that sounded reassuring!) or perhaps it was from being hit as I had just come out of a very violent marriage or even that when I had been screaming during the violence, that could have done it, they also said it could have been caused because of stress (which is very vague really). So I have never really understood what had caused my hearing loss. For the two years following that I had terrible tinnitus (ringing and sounds) in my other ear which I know many people suffer with. I spent about 2 years training my brain to filter out the ringing and rushing wind sounds, which was no easy task I can tell you! It was very frightening and I would often get panic attacks and if I ever got a cold or something that affected the hearing in my right ear I would be scared stiff I was going to go completely deaf. I was told by the doctors that I had as much chance of going deaf in my right ear as well as anybody else did and that I shouldn’t worry. I had an open appointment at the hospital for years after that to be able to go in case my other ear went at all funny. And I did go up there quite a few times panicking when any new or strange noise were heard in my other ear but after a few years I got used to the new sensation of not having any hearing on one side. One of the things I had to get used to was sounds coming from other directions. I would quite often think a noise had come from one direction to find it had come from somewhere else. I have got on with it all for over 10years now but always with the fear of loosing the hearing in my other ear one day. It is surprising how much I have come to rely on lip reading and putting sentences together from the bits I have heard. On the whole I don’t think most people would realise I have this problem but I really struggle when there is any background noise, pubs and clubs are a nightmare, crowded places and background noises sound very strange to me and it can be difficult to filter it all out. Another thing I have found is that you can feel really thick! Especially when having a conversation and you have to ask the person to repeat themselves more than once. It can make you feel quite self-conscious. A lot of my history and archaeology work is often with people over a certain age, many of whom have hearing problems so we all understand each other well and it is more comfortable in some ways. When I saw the doctor today she said that once you get to 40 your hearing starts to deteriorate (cheek coz I’m not there yet!) so I know I’ll have to contend with that when it starts happening anyway but for the last year I have been noticing that the hearing in my right ear is playing up – I don’t know if I have just not wanted to admit it or pretend that it is just fine but I have had to ask to be referred back to the hospital to have the proper checks. I have had probably one of the most stressful years ever this last year for many reasons but the thought of going completely deaf scares me because I love music and the sound of my kids voices and talking to people so much. I know there are ways to deal with it if it does happen but I hope it isn’t going to. I’ll report back how the hospital appointment goes once I’ve been.
Landscape Archaeologist, Local Historian & Mobile Makeup Artist