Thursday, August 04, 2005

I can't hear you; I've got beans in my ears

I was looking forward to a conversation with my Friend James this evening about -- well I'm not exactly sure how to say it, but something about whether and how professed Quakers can live in the same meeting when some of them deny belief in any kind of supernatural God and others perceive and testify to the Living God as the central fact of their lives. Or something like that.


But I had to postpone the conversation because I can't hear. I woke up Monday morning with my left ear stuffed up. This has happend a few times in the past, and the cause is usually a build-up of wax that has closed the ear canal. Usually, I just take a long, warm bath and let the hot water melt the wax away. If that doesn't work, I use some ear drops that fizz up and dissolve the wax. So I put in a few drops early Monday morning, but while they fizzed, the blockage didn't go away.

My right ear, too, felt a little blocked, but not entirely, and the left one could open up for a few minutes if I tugged it in just the right way, so I didn't worry much about it. But by Thursday, the left ear was completely stopped and not getting better, so I made an appointment at my clinic for this afternoon.

I explained the problem to the resident, who brought in his teacher, who said I must have jammed the wax in too far with a Q-tip and that the nurse would levage (sp?) the ear by shooting warm water into it with a high-power syringe, like power washing or sandblasting a house for painting.

She came in and started but was entirely unsuccessful with the left ear; if anything, I think she compressed it tighter and deeper. We agreed I'd use drops again & come back on Monday to try again. But then she did my right -- my good -- ear, and succeeded only in stopping it up, too. So I came home with both ears feeling as if I had thick drinking glasses clasped over them. I could hear a certain range of sound -- the newscaster on the radio, for example -- but not the engine turning over or the revving sound I depend on to know when to shift (I had to use the tachometer as a visual reminder). That was very odd, driving without being able to hear the aural cues that I depend on.

At home, a friend was here feeding my mother-in-law (my wife and daughter are out at a play) in the kitchen, and she apparently spoke to me as I came in the front door, but I didn't hear a thing and was startled to walk into the kitchen and see here sitting there!

So I had to call James to say I didn't think I could carry on a conversation like this. Now, it's almost four hours later, and I still can't hear. Or, more accurately, I feel my ears in a fog, like the glasses are still clapped around them. It's quite weird.

I did manage to have a lovely telephone call with my second-born daughter (who lives in Michigan), using my semi-good right ear (which is not my natural telephone ear, so that added an additional level of oddness ). We don't get to talk enough, so this was a very welcome call.

Then I spent some time revising a response to the posts about Friends testimonies found on The Good Raised Up, but it kept getting longer and longer and so I'm taking a break.


The heat wave has broken here and it is a lovely Minnesota summer evening again. Sitting on the front porch with the cats and my mother-in-law, I can (barely) hear the crickets' pulsating chirping. The bikers that ride past are completely silent to me tonight -- I can't hear the click-click-click of the free-wheel pawl -- they're purely visual dashes of movement and color and (now that it's dark) light.

My mother-in-law, who can no longer speak, is looking intently at Rascal the cat, an alleged descendant of a Maine Coon Cat. Rascal is looking at her now, too, with his head cocked a little, and they are in complete visual communication with each other. It's an amazing sight.


A busy weekend ahead. A wedding Saturday of a good Friend, two, actually, though I know him much better than her. It's an hour out-of-town, so that will be an effort getting the four of us there. Then another old Friend, now moved to Maryland, will visit on Sunday, after meeting. Then the memorial meeting for Lou Ann who died last week. So it goes.


Joe G. said...

So, are you ears better? Any further understandings of why the blockage? I've had the same treatments for my ears, but they worked OK. My problem turned out to be a very long viral infection of the inner ear (took about one year to resolve). Hope yours turns out a-OK!

Kate said...

6005 Columbus Ave. S.

I like your blog, and plan to come back and give it a good reading.

david said...

Q-tips are evil. I am not believe in a personified diety, but I do believe that Q-tips are evil. And they're addictive too. In October, 2001, I went into the doctor and my ears where so messed up from my Q-tip use that he perscribed cipro, the same drug that is an antedote for anthrax. I was quite startled. But years later, I am still an avid Q-tip user.

"That which is cannot be spoken."


Liz Opp said...

Hi, Paul-- Did the ENT refer you to an audiologist for a hearing exam? The exam would at least give information about where the concern is: the outer ear (the visible part and the part where a Q-tip can reach); the middle ear (those 3 tiny bones we learn about, the hammer, anvil, and stirrup); and the inner ear (where the nerve endings are).

My experience with my own (minor) hearing troubles, along with my rudimentary study of the workings of the ear have helped me understand the value of a good hearing test!

Perhaps you discuss this in a more recent post. I have some catching up to do in reading Showers of Blessings.

Liz, The Good Raised Up