Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Speak Up, Would You?

I have Ménière's (sounds like men ears) disease.

According to Wikipedia: Ménière's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that usually affects both hearing and balance. It is characterized by episodes of vertigo and by fluctuating or permanent tinnitus and hearing loss. The condition affects people differently. It can range in intensity from being a mild annoyance to a disabling disease. It is similar to many other conditions so a differential diagnosis is important.[2]

Mine is what I would call way more than a mild annoyance and far less than disabling. Vertigo episodes occur very few and far between and are short lived. That being said, it is a vertigo like none I had ever experience. I am not just dizzy, I simply cannot tell up from down as everything spins in front of my eyes. I would liken it to being strapped at the waist to the center point of a water wheel that just keeps spinning or, more accurately, a perpetual hip circle on the uneven parallel bars....there is no stopping it. I can feel an episode coming on so, thankfully, I have warning. 

The vertigo has has less impact to my life than the tinnitus and hearing loss. In my right ear, I hear a low frequency drone like a windy day at the beach. The left ear has a louder version of that with an additional layer of a high pitched whistle. There is no such thing as quiet. It never shuts off...day or night. It does fluctuate and, at times, can be almost indiscernible if the outside noise is loud enough. 

It's the isolation during social encounters that is the biggest drawback. Do you constantly say "excuse me" or "pardon" or "I have hearing loss, can you talk louder"? It gets to be a game where you pick and choose whether it is important enough or whether the person you tell will ever bother to raise the volume of their voice. Many times I sit back and smile when others are smiling, trying to remain a part of the group and hoping against hope that I don't look like a complete fool. A day on the golf course is tough. People spread out, walking away, talking with their back to me. Ugh...exhausting to try and play my best but also try to keep up with the social norms.

That being said, the really important people in my life work hard at including me in conversations, looking me in the face when they speak, recognizing that noisy venues are nearly impossible and at being more patient than I can believe. So grateful.

2 comments:

  1. The last few weeks I have had an ear infection. Went to the doctor and got oral antibiotics that didn't fix it so I went back yesterday for more oral antibiotics and ear drop antibiotics. I can't hear out of one ear and it is so frustrating to have to have people facing me and talking loudly. And more frustrating is when people get frustrated with me! So my heart goes out to you. It must be a very hard thing to live with.

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  2. All is well right now. And when you compare a little hearing loss to what is going on in the world it is easy to keep it in perspective. Feel better soon Birdie.

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