Deaf or new hearing

I am temporarily deaf in one ear. Well more like half deaf… muppety story involving loud music and damp tissue paper… and will shortly be going to A&E to get it sorted. A couple of (sober) friends have tried to remove it with long sharp objects, and have unanimously advised to see a professional. It’s too far in, and they don’t want to risk causing permanent damage. 

So in the mean time, I’m experiencing what for a huge part of the population is everyday life. The underwater throbbing feeling of hearing the word as though through a couple of thick matresses. To have a conversation I have to twist and turn my right hear to hear… birdsong is muted, footsteps shake my stomach.

What’s funny though, is from another perspective I’ve gained a new level of hearing… the hearing of inside my head. With the tissue completely blocking my left ear passage, perhaps the only vibrations left to dance my earhairs are from within my body itself. I am constantly aware of the hot thump of my hearbeat, the cracklings of oxygen in my nasal passage, mudslapping noise as the tongue moves. There are odd squeaks, whistles, and a high-pitched silence. Never before have I been so aware of my own physicality in a place so close to my brain. It gets you wondering – where is “me” in this complex, partly uncontrollable body of mine. And what do “I” sound like.

The other thing is just gratitude. Unlike 50% of the UK’s senior citizens, huge numbers of others including the deaf children I used to teach in Yinchuan, by tomorrow I will hopefully have rejoined the ranks of the hearing. I won’t have to worry about never being able to join the army or get a driver’s license, of having to ask people to speak up and feeling like I’ve got a disability. And there are millions of folk in the world who have totally treatable hearing disorders but due to poverty and lack of resources, will never get it sorted.

On the plus side, fewer sounds keeping me awake at night, and the option of ignoring people without seeming rude. Huzzah.

Update: doctor can’t get it out. Told me I’ll have to be admitted to the hospital so a surgeon can do it. Might even have to stay overnight. Aiya! Silver lining is it’ll be an interesting experience I suppose… I don’t believe I’ve ever been admitted to hospital before…

Update 2: another doctor failed to removed the “alien object” as they call it in cantonenglish. the specialist ear doctor will be in tomorrow morning. very embarassed to be in hospital with lots of real people with genuine illneses, and me like a dipstick with tissue in my ear. nurses and other patients seemed to find it hysterical. constantly asked by various members of staff to recount 1) what is in ear 2) why it got put in ear 3) when was it put in ear 4) what else was happening at time 5) do I have a previous history of putting objects in ear 6) really, why did it end up in ear? etc etc. Also had to be asked repeatedly as COULDN’T FEKKING HEAR WHAT THEY WERE SAYING. Persuaded them to let me go home for the night since I live 2 mins walk from the hopsital (they were not keen at all) but still have hospital tag and barcodes on wrist. Dunno how I’ll wake up at 7 with no alarm clock or ability to hear if someone is knocking on my door. FFS. I feel like a temporary escapee from a medical institution. Because that’s precisely what I am.

Update 3: It began to hurt so much I thougth my head would rip, and was keeping my roommate awake with bizarre animal-like groaning.  So returned to hospital in early hours of morning on a desperate hunt for painkillers, like a zombie clasping my ear (only because it was in pain, not falling off). Stumbled around the place and couldn’t find my ward. No-one was very helpful and kept sending me from place to place. Eventually I fell asleep on a chair in A&E. Was woken at 6am by a nurse who had seen my tag – WHAT, YOU’RE AN IN-PATIENT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? Eventually got to ward and eight hours later have been discharged with the blockage removed. Tthey used a drill-like microphone/sucking thing with no painkillers and I screamed so loud I think I scared half the waiting room away. It felt like being at the dentists circa 1873. The nurse was from the mainland and was quite friendly when I burst into tears. Anyways, hearing is back, and I have lots of antibiotics for the ear infection, and hopefully it will stop hurting soon.

So boys and girls, what did we learn today?

Correct answer: Don’t put in yer ear anything larger than yer elbow,  ye eejit ye.

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5 Responses to “Deaf or new hearing”

  1. Flippanta Says:

    Oh dear, that sounds pretty rubbish but it’s also very funny to read. 🙂

    On the plus – at least you have no pain! In first year I got an ear infection and, being the clever girl that I am, only went to the doctor when the whole side of my head was wracked with pain and I couldn’t open my jaw/chew. It was the most awful feeling ever. When I was dosed up on painkillers I suddenly started hearing those ‘internal’ sounds you’ve described so well, it was weird.

    My parents are coming over in about two weeks. I missed Christmas at home too. Can’t wait to see them.

    Good luck at the hospital tomorrow!

    Flip x

  2. Sarah Says:

    Oh Ellie – what a terrible tale!! You must post soon with the update or I’ll be worrying for you. (As someone who is slightly “hearing challenged” in my right ear I can vouch for one of its practical advantages – since Frank stopped sleeping through the night 5 weeks ago ((separation anxiety, according to our vet)) I have become accustomed to sleeping on my good ear. Saves a fortune on ear plugs! )
    Sarah xxx

  3. elliepant Says:

    Flip, glad you enjoyed reading the blog 🙂
    actually it is pretty painful. Except at first I was more worried and stressed to feel the pain… I may have now made it much worse by stupidly having a shower (its really hot and humid atm constant showers necessity) and it is now explodingly painful.
    Luckily the hospital is just up the road so if I need to go back to A&E/readmit myself, it’s not too much trouble.
    Sarah, thanks for the message, hope Frank is ok atm and your ear too. I’ll let you know when it’s sorted. xxx

  4. Howard Says:

    Holy cow Ellie, no painkillers sounds painful, but way to make your misery so entertaining! I hope your hearing gets back to 100%… I do have a slight case of tinnitus (ringing ear) that comes and goes, and that’s maddening enough; what you’ve been going through sounds like pure head torture. At least the hospital doesn’t seem like the bumbling inhumane sort you find in Kunming. Right?

  5. Queen Mary’s Hospital Take II « Ellie’s Blog Says:

    […] Hospital Take II By elliepant It seems only yesterday that I was the patient, having “alien objects” firmly removed from the ear. Now, I’m […]

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