For the past couple of months I’ve been having recurring hearing problems in the form of blocked Eustachian tubes and the subduing of sound that comes with it. No problem; it happens, then it goes away right? It’s usually due to inflammation caused by allergies or a cold. Right. Often accompanied by slight to moderate but nevertheless temporary tinnitus (internal ear noise). Yeah, okay but … the tinnitus part was hanging on while the Eustachian tube part went away. A little more, a little less, but … now it was always there.
Historical perspective: I’ve always had fantastic hearing. We’re talking hyperacusis here. It came with the Apserger’s. The ability to hear not only very soft sounds but also a wide frequency range. Sometimes it has been an asset: my Dad, an avid audiophile, always had me listen to any new equipment he got because he knew my hearing was good enough to detect a weak voice coil or unequal frequency reproduction. The down side was the pain loud environments would cause, such as oh-too-many stores with their music cranked to ’11’. Sometimes I worked in noisy environments, and as such I have been using hearing protection for a long time – and still do: you won’t find me chainsawing or splitting wood without the muffs on!
Despite such precautions, now hear this: the continual noises (for there are different types) of tinnitus and, as an extra added bonus, diplacusis echoica – ‘double’ hearing. That aspect suddenly manifested itself when I was in the Post Office last week and really freaked me out. It was “call the doctor” time, although I knew nothing would come of it. His first inclination was “ear wax build-up”. Well I’ve had that before and I know this isn’t that. He couldn’t see any such build-up. The second guess was “infection”, which can also be dismissed as not fitting the symptoms. He couldn’t find any sign of that either. Have I ever mentioned we don’t have a good GP here? My usual gambit of bringing ex-doctor wife along to tell him what to do can not be employed during the pandemic. I have a hard time understanding him anyway, as he talks softly and mumbles and appears to have no confidence in himself. Well with diagnoses like that he shouldn’t have. The Mrs. says I intimidate the man, which could be true as I am somewhat imposing in both build and personality. It has happened before. Anyway I came away with an appointment for a muscle biopsy to see about the inclusion body myositis and instructions to get a hearing exam before going on to an ear specialist. Yeah like this is going to work out.
One of the things I really dislike about being old is the way the medical profession dismisses any complaint you have on the grounds of your age: hearing loss, joint pain, fatigue … whatever. It’s always “to be expected in a man of your age”. As if dying by installments is normal. Meanwhile anyone of a senior disposition who does manage to retain normal function is viewed as a medical marvel. Hurrah! You escaped the inevitable failing of replacement cell mutation imperfection!
So here I am waiting on the highly unlikely prospect of an appointment with an ear specialist. I don’t expect anything to come from it even if it does happen. It will be the same as the Inclusion Body Mysositis: “learn to live with it”. Easy for them to declare as they aren’t the ones suffering from it.
Oh and if you like weird coincidences, apparently in the UK February 1-7 is “tinnitus awareness week”. Or something.