Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What? WHAT?! I CAN'T HEAR YOU... no, really, I can't...

Let me throw this out there first- I've had pretty good days in the last couple of weeks. No agonizing pain, really. I've been mostly functioning at a six on the pain scale. We've been going to the ren faire the last few weekends to work in the Friends of Faire Garden (and by "we", I mean me and Christine and by "work", I mean Christine works and I sort of push a paintbrush around). I finish those days sore and the next mornings are always a bit rough, but nothing too terrible.

But now on to the title topic. You see, I was born deaf in one ear. They discovered it when I was four years old in one of those hearing tests the school nurse gives you. Raise your hand if you hear the beep. Right hand for the right side, left for the left, and both for... well, you know. After several tests- many of which were terrifying to me- the Army doctors determined that I was born without the auditory nerve that runs from the eardrum to the brain.

About those terrifying tests- I was four years old. They locked me in a dimly-lit soundproof room and put giant, padded headphones on me. And I couldn't see my mom. Then a stranger would say in a monotonic tone: "We're going to play some sounds... you tell us what you're hearing..." Then they proceeded to play thunderstorm sounds and ocean sounds and various other scary-to-a-small-child noises. Then the monotonic voice would say: "I'm going to say some words. Repeat those words back to me..." I was four years old. I could barely speak on my own, much less repeat multi-syllable words to an invisible stranger while worrying that my mother had abandoned me.

At one point, the monotonic voice told me I didn't have to cry. Then my mother opened that heavy soundproof door and took the headphones off me...

Okay, we've gotten a bit off track.

Along with the born-deaf thing, I've had some hearing loss in my good ear. I've been careful. I've only ever been to five concerts in my life. When I listen to headphones, I keep the volume low enough to hear outside noises and I don't use earbuds. As I got older, I developed tinnitus. And that low-grade buzzing comes and goes. Well, it never really goes, it just seems quieter and sometimes it seems louder. But it always goes back to the quieter... almost always.

A few weeks ago, my ear started to buzz louder. After several days, the buzzing seemed to taper off, but everything seems like it has been turned down. I have to turn the TV up louder, I have to turn my computer speakers up. I can't even hear the sound my truck engine makes unless I'm in an enclosed area (like a parking garage or whatever).

After two weeks, like anyone with chronic issues, I looked it up online. There are a few scenarios. One is that I have fluid in my ear and I'll be fine. Another is that my tinnitus is just getting worse. And another is that the tinnitus is being exacerbated by fibrofuckingmyalgia (is there any gift that gives you as much as fibro does?). And the last one is that I am losing my hearing. My tinnitus isn't getting worse, I'm just not hearing the world anymore and my brain focuses on the ringing in my ears. Well, ear, since the other one has never worked.

I have a doctor appointment on Thursday where they'll do a few things to see what's going on with my hearing. So, if you see me at Bristol (well, if you see me anywhere, actually) and I don't answer you, I'm not being rude, I sincerely cannot hear you. I can't ear anything on my right side (all my life) and I can't hear things behind me (all my life), and now... well, its a gamble if I can hear you or not.

If you feel the need to get my attention, it helps to call out my first and last names. And if you know me at Bristol, you know my full name. If you're standing next to me and you spot a hot guy (which happens A LOT at the faire) and you want to whisper it to me, you have to whisper like you were raised in a sawmill and do it on my left side. But if you're sawmill-whispering to me that there's a hot guy at my 3 o'clock, odds are, he's going to hear you too, so I hope you're not prone to blushing. Because if he looks over at us, I'll take his photo and he'll know it was you who said something. Because I'll tell him.

Jokes aside, I haven't been this scared since the doctor found a "suspicious dark area" in my mammogram. That turned out to be nothing.

And now, since I like to end things on a high note, let's all watch The Spine from Steam Powered Giraffe do a cover of a Rhianna song.

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