Friday, March 06, 2009

You know you have cancer when... think going deaf would be a blessing.

I went to the ENT today. I thought I had ruptured my right eardrum a couple of weeks ago, and have had both pain and hearing loss, so I finally went to get things checked out.

The doctor extracted even more crystallized wax and dead skin from my ear canal, which are the continuing effects of radiation from three years ago. (I had a similar experience with this last year.) The good news was that my eardrum appeared to be intact. However, the doctor noticed that my eardrum has a large retraction pocket, which is the result of continuing radiation damage to the eustacian tube.

Testing verified that my nerves are okay, but my eardrum is not functioning properly, and I have significant hearing loss in my right ear as a result.

My favorite part of the visit was when the doctor explained that the full effects of radiation damage will take several years to manifest, and he suggested a course of monitoring over the next four or five years. He explained some possible interventions to relieve discomfort, but nothing that would restore my hearing or prevent further deterioration in the long term. (Long term! I like thinking long term!)

In other words, I'm not completely deaf (yet) in my right ear. But if I'm lucky to live long enough, I may become so.

Only cancer can make a musician actually look forward to the day when she loses her ear.


LanaBanana said...

You still have such great perspective. Instead of having yet another injustice to complain about with the hearing loss that may get worse, you're just happy that you get the chance to lose it! I guess not completely happy to lose your hearing, but still, your perspective is really amazing. I'm always grateful to hear stories from people when they can look at the bright side of even the most difficult circumstances. Thanks for the post. :)

LadyCarma said...

Sorry to hear about the hearing loss. About fifteen years ago I started having loud ringing in my left ear. I went to Dr. Ragsdale ENT, and the diagnosis was "significant hearing loss in left ear, overly sensitive hearing in the right ear." I asked him if he knew why this happened, because as a teenager I had worked in a couple of food and wood products factories, before the days of ear plugs. He said: There is nothing you did to cause this, and nothing to prevent it.
Over the years since then, the right ear has become normal and the left ear has less hearing. I have a hearing aid (inherited after my father-in-law passed away in 2002), but it hurts my ear to wear it, it doesn't seem to help, and I get a vibrations when I sing. I do without it. But put me in a crowded room with lots of noise and I can't hear anything but the noise! So if I ask you to "say that again," you know what my problem is.
Thanks for sharing. This problem is something you can live with because you have the right attitude.

Anonymous said...

You continue to be an inspiration to so many people. It makes "looking at the glass half full" REALLY make sense!
You and your family remain in my prayers. Cindy