One year on… My thoughts on my sudden hearing loss

It is one year since the day in the auditorium when I suddenly lost the hearing in my left ear. It has been a year spent attending appointments with various specialists, a year of being observed and tested, and a year of taking different medicines and trying hearing aids. I spent almost a year without working; trudging slowly through my days, with the feeling of frustration weighing heavily down on me. A year has passed and there have been no answers, and no improvement in my ability to hear. It has been a year that has damaged my confidence. A year that has chipped away at me; with every hurdle and setback diminishing my character. Yet it has also been a year of building myself up; grasping at ways to find strength through my adversity.

It still feels very recent. I still wake up every morning to the realization that I can no longer hear in my left ear. A part of me continues to cling on to the tiniest of hopes that one day I will miraculously wake up with the full ability to hear; that my hearing will re-emerge as quickly and as spontaneously as it disappeared. This hope is an inherent part of me that I’m unable to control or even want to suppress. Yet, this doesn’t mean I haven’t accepted the reality of my situation.

In addition to becoming deaf in my left ear, I have been left with: tinnitus, a sensitivity to loud noises, the inability to identify where sounds are coming from, and difficulty hearing in background noise. Yet worst of all, there is a relentless feeling of pressure I feel in both ears, though more so in my left. It is these other issues that are proving to be more difficult to manage than the hearing loss itself.

Living with hearing loss and associated symptoms poses everyday challenges. Even though I have had no actual improvement in my symptoms, I have a better understanding of my hearing loss. I am improving my coping techniques every day; achieving small triumphs that feel like fairy steps of success. Notably, the discomfort I used to feel when this first happened, when going outside my apartment into a world of noise, has now become a habitual sensation. Although it is very present, it is something I rarely think about; an unpleasantness that has now been forced to the background of my focus. Loud noises are still painful. The sound of emergency vehicle sirens, motorbike exhaust pipes, and the clattering of dishes, all cause me physical pain deep inside my ears. But I have also discovered some noises that bring me comfort. The sound of a gentle river, the wind brushing past tree branches, and rustling leaves force my mind from giving attention to any unwelcome sounds of tinnitus. I have found that wearing headphones helps to block out the noise of the Metro and noise associated with trains and public transport. For short periods of time I am now able to listen to my IPod through my headphones, and can enjoy music and listen to storytelling podcasts; this is something I thought I would no longer be able to find pleasure in, due to my sensitivity to noise. I have developed my understanding of practices that can affect my condition. I now realise that if I drink alcohol, eat something with a high salt content, or if I don’t sleep well, my tinnitus will be stronger. The presence of loud tinnitus and tiredness, in turn, means I will find it difficult to concentrate well on hearing tasks. Socializing can be demanding amongst background noise. In restaurants and bars I have learnt to sit in a corner, or with my deaf ear against a wall and my hearing ear facing the person I am speaking to, in order to have some chance at hearing them in conversation. I have learnt that it is only possible to concentrate on listening to one person at a time. I have also learnt that with large groups of people and circular tables comes a lot of frustration!

It has been a year of firsts. There was my first run since my hearing loss, where I started to feel so much stronger, and more ‘myself’. There was my first train journey, where I watched the beautiful countryside through the train windows, with the sun on my face, and when I felt so happy to be listening to music through my headphones; thankful for the hearing I had left. There was my first time in a restaurant since my hearing loss, which taught me so much about the importance of selecting a table wisely.

It has been a year of being proactive; writing articles for hearing loss websites, and getting involved in fundraising campaigns for deaf charities.

It has been a year of ‘silly deaf moments’ and mishearing words: sitting with my boyfriend on a terrace and mishearing him say the word ‘parmesan’, and instead hearing ‘lederhosen’, and wondering why my boyfriend would want such a thing sprinkled on spaghetti!

It has been a year of feeling vulnerable. When I’m on my own in everyday places and situations, such as the supermarket or walking down the street, I worry about strangers talking to me, and not being able to hear them, or even worse failing to acknowledge them; if they have addressed me on my deaf side. I worry about cars pulling out of parking spaces, and not registering them until they are moving towards to me. I worry about crossing the road and hearing the siren of an ambulance, and not knowing which direction to move out of the way.

It has been a year of frustration. I am frustrated in train stations and airports where I can’t hear the Public Address systems clearly. I become frustrated with bars that play their music loud, or that are bustling with chatter too loud for me to tolerate. I am frustrated at people who speak in mumbled words, or who turn their head away from me during conversation; meaning I am unable to hear parts of what has been said. I am frustrated at feeling like a burden with every time I have to ask someone to repeat themselves. I am sad that I am now unable to continue my career as a teacher in a lively classroom. Yet I am proud of myself for returning to work in a less demanding role, which in actuality is one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I still feel upset with myself when I struggle in conversation. It’s tiring trying to listen to conversation or to communicate for long periods of time. It’s tiring to be around noise. I am tired a lot of the time from trying to listen. I feel frustration in learning simple things again, such as keeping my balance whilst walking downhill. I feel frustration at there being so many questions that doctors don’t know the answers to. What caused my hearing loss? Is this going to happen to my right ear as well? Why do I often feel dizzy when I’m walking, yet rarely when I am running? Why does shopping centre lighting, stormy weather, and crowds of people, cause me to feel dizzy?

It has been a difficult year also for the people closest to me. I know it is hard for people to know what to say to comfort someone who is not ‘getting better’. I know it is difficult to know how to help. My friends and family have lived through this with me and have shown me overwhelming support. But, it is my boyfriend who has lived the experience closest to mine, and who has felt not only the frustration that I have, but has also learnt with me how to deal with my hearing loss. The unfaltering support, patience and care he has shown me, and continues to do so has undoubtedly given me strength to deal with the new challenges I now face.

This year has been difficult. Yet this year has had a huge impact on my personality, where my priorities now lie, and the way I view my life. I am stronger as a result of this year. It is also because of this year that I have realized the enjoyment I have in communicating through writing. By recording my experiences and thoughts in my blog, I have made sense of my feelings and gained strength. I hope also to have given others an insight into my world, and some of the difficulties experienced by someone with hearing loss.  Writing is a pleasure; one which I can thank that day in the auditorium for the moment the world to the left of me abruptly fell into silence.

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Author: myhearinglossstory

Hi, My name is Carly. I am 36 years old and I am currently living in Spain. I am originally from a small seaside town in Yorkshire called Bridlington, and have also lived in China and Thailand. I am an Early Years primary school teacher, and have been teaching for more than 12 years. I love walking in the countryside, getting lost in Madrid, going out for breakfast, taking photos, listening to music, storytelling podcasts, baking, running, drinking wine, and eating spicy food. In August 2016, I experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear. I started this blog as a way to inform my friends and family about my progress, for anyone else who is going through a similar experience as me, or for anybody who is interested in learning about this type of hearing loss, and the way it can affect everyday life.

20 thoughts on “One year on… My thoughts on my sudden hearing loss”

  1. I don’t know if that hope of regaining your hearing will ever go away. After 10 years I still think it might just come back some day. Then I wonder how I would react. I would probably be startled by all the sounds I am missing out on.
    I’m glad to hear that you are finding some positives in your experience. Please keep writing I always enjoy your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One whole year, wow. I cant imagine how frustrating this situation is. I hope writing this has really helped you. Having this kind of outlet hopefully helps ease some of the frustration. Have they figured out what caused the sudden hearing loss?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Angela. Yes, writing has helped me so much, and I also enjoy it too 🙂 No, they haven’t given me a definite reason. They found, by doing a test, that I have cochlear hydrops (a type of menieres disease) in my good ear, and assume this is what my deaf ear also had, which led to me losing my hearing (they can’t do the test on my deaf ear because it is too damaged)But they don’t know what caused this problem…I doubt I will ever know.
      Anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you are well.
      Carly

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good to see a post again, Carly. I identify with everything you say. At one time or another (usually many) I have done the same things you have done in order to facilitate talking with someone or in a social situation. But like you, I absolutely refuse to withdraw from life or society, as easy and tempting as that would be to do. Like your boyfriend, my wife has to deal with it daily and I now refer to her as my interpreter since she has to explain many things people say to me, especially in restaurants when wait persons speak so quickly and the noise is so bad.

    One thing that has helped me is an on-line lip reading course (https://www.lipreading.org). You won’t become a lip reading guru, but you would be surprised at how it helps to watch lips while people are talking to you (and, of course, looking at you). I do find myself apologizing to people in advance for looking at their mouths while they are talking, but what the heck?! I know they would not want to miss out on conversing with such a dynamic, wonderful person as myself! In fact, I am taking on-line piano lessons right now and it does not have closed captioning to help. But it is a male who teaches it and I have better luck with deeper voices. But also I am able to lip read as he talks which is a big, big help! Not to mention, if I miss something I can go back and replay it!

    Anyway, I am toasting with a glass of wine to your one year anniversary. We must celebrate all the other blessings we have, right?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hello Al. Thank you as always for reading and for your comment. I will have a look at the lip reading link you sent. I have actually found myself watching people’s lips more in conversation, without really realising…
      It’s great you are learning piano!- good luck with that!
      Thanks for the toast. I think I will have a toast at the weekend too 🙂
      Take care
      Your blogging friend, Carly

      Like

  4. What a year you have had! Never give up hope that your hearing may return one day, but the wonderful thing is that you are working through the possibility that it won’t return and learning to cope with the situation that you have found yourself in.
    You are doing amazingly well and will continue to do so I’m sure. I hope you enjoy your new job and find it really rewarding. Sending much love to you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, Carly, can’t believe that it has been a year! You have done what you could think of. You have tried your best. You didn’t leave any chances to get better and to regain your hearing. So you didn’t neglect anything. But you can never know if your hearing will come back or not. It may, miracles will happen. It’s good to hear that you’re coping better, and take the first train trip, and try to take the adventure. You can do both – still trying different thing hoping it would help, and go on with life to do things that make you stronger. Take care. Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Miriam. How are you?! Yes, I’ve done everything I can to find out the cause (and continue to do so). I will also continue to try different therapies to ease my discomfort. I think it’s really important to do everything as I would normally, as much as possible. I hope you are doing well. I’ll try to stop by your blog soon. Take care
      Carly

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Carly, I think that all you can do. Continue to try everything so it won’t be late to get attention. I broke the tendon of my little finger when playing bowling. The other fingers got stuck, and I support the ball with the ring finger. It hurted for a while, I only took care of it, without knowing that the little finger also got hurt. When it had pain a year later, it wa to late to have it fixed.
        I’m doing okay. The doc said my blood pressure might affect the intensity of the tinnitus. I’m taking low dose med and the ringing does sound quieter, and the right ear doesn’t have ringing so far.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s been a pleasure to read your journey. I hope you keep writing about your experience. I posted a link to your blog on the hearingaidforums.com for those looking for comfort on their own journey. I hope you don’t mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sensitivity to loud noise!!! Sometimes tends to infuriate me but I just try to be calm. Being in similar situations I could tell a little of what you face but I’m sure with time, things get better. Be strong and of good courage my dear!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Carly,
    I wanted to thank you for visiting my blog. When I started to reply to your comment suddenly it was gone. I must have hit a wrong key somehow. I am so sorry. If you use a lot of fresh garlic those garlic peelers are a very handy tool. I’m sure you can find them online if not in a local store.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello Carly
    One thing you have become this year is a stunningly good writer about deafness. That’s a gain (although I appreciate that isn’t much of a consolation for all the other losses).
    I think that acknowledging your loss AS A loss, and being honest about that, is something I am only recently learning how to do. It feels, in your writing, that you are way ahead of me there. You can talk about what you’ve lost but also all the strength you have found to move on.
    One thing I’ve found very helpful this year is a few sessions of counselling – not specific deafness counselling but just the ordinary sort. The counsellor basically said “this is grief, don’t fight it, acknowledge it” and, once I stopped desperately feeling I needed to be positive all the time, it helped a lot.
    Anyway…….back to you……you are doing brilliantly. Keep going. Keep writing.
    Vera

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Vera. Wow, what a great comment! Thank you so much! I really enjoy writing about my experiences, and find it helps me a lot. I can alsosee how counselling can help with hearing loss, as just talking about it can really help. You are right, it is a loss, and something that I think is ok to grieve, in order to be able to move on with things. It’s not fun or something that is easy to deal with – and that’s OK 🙂 I still have a long way to go with moving forward, but I feel I’m on the right track 🙂 I am glad you are able to move forward too. I am wondering about your cochlear implant. Are you having the operation. ..I will try and stop by your Facebook page soon to catch up! Anyway, thank you as always for reading, and for the lovely comment – you made me smile 🙂 Take care.
      – Carly

      Like

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