June 4, 2014, I woke up with an earache and decided to get it checked. Antibiotic? Check. Ear infection cured? Not hardly. I remember being annoyed and like every mom out there who thinks, “I don’t have time for this!” Little did I know…
Something was different, altogether unusual about this ear infection. I knew it the minute the ringing in my left ear started. I could hardly think straight from the constant HUM in my head. Not a melodious sound, but rather this incessant buzz saw. And my gut told me: this isn’t anything to play with. I set an ENT appointment for June 10.
The verdict? This was no garden variety ear infection but something that had settled in in inner ear. A little trickier and could possibly compromise my hearing. The options? 1. Oral steroids-which would make me cranky and also guaranteed to put on some weight. Um, who wants to sign up for that? Or choice # 2: manually injected steroid shots. Into my ear. As in let’s poke a hole in the eardrum, lay still for 20 minutes while the steroid sits in your inner ear, and oh yeah, during that time, DON’T SWALLOW. You lay there with a cloth to catch your drool. I wondered if there was an option 3 that involved less pain and discomfort, no crankiness or weight gain. No dice. So I chose the shot. Or should I say SHOTS. As in a series of 3 shots, which ultimately turned into 4 after I had a really nasty bout of vertigo. I had countless hearing tests to see if that was improving. I was scared that this was my new normal.
Last June I spent many days at the ENT office, worried if all these treatments were helping. Would my hearing improve? Would this infernal RINGING ever SHUT UP? Then I had those “suck it up buttercup” moments too-like seeing little kids in the ENT office with much bigger issues going on. Or the people who seemed to live at the doctor’s office. Was I being a baby? Maybe. Did I care? No.
The low point? Leaving my 4th shot and having to be driven to work while having vertigo because I had to go do 2 closings that had been scheduled. I told everyone up front: I may have to lay in the corner and just talk while someone in my office flips the paperwork. By some miracle, I was able to do both closings in a sitting position. But the whole idea that I could be leveled by vertigo without warning scared the crap out of me. And having an MRI to make sure you don’t have a tumor or MS wasn’t so fun either.
I was so hyper vigilant about having some improvement in my ear was because we had a weeklong vacation to DC scheduled. I wondered if I should stay home-would flying cause my ear even more problems? My ENT assured me I would have less problems flying because I now had a hole in my eardrum. So on June 22, we flew to DC but also had another vertigo attack and stayed all morning in the hotel bed trying to recover. No Capitol tour for us. I remember how a 3 block walk to eat lunch after vertigo seemed like a half marathon. But I never regretted going on vacation-quite the opposite. I NEEDED this trip to grab back some normalcy. Here’s a photo from that trip on mine and Clay’s 19th wedding anniversary:
While in DC, I stumbled upon an Alex and Ani store and found a crystal necklace in a similar style to one I had years ago. I love its simplicity–just a clear circular stone on an adjustable chain. But it SPOKE to me in its symbolism.
The description reads: “Crystal is associated with the Crown Chakra that provides spiritual wisdom and a sense of oneness with the universe. This energy evokes cosmic consciousness, an inner enlightenment associated with one’s destined journey. Symbolic of purity, this crystal hue is expressive of the highest divine love.” Gimme some of that divine love and spiritual wisdom, please! Now whenever I look at this necklace or reach up to touch it absentmindedly during the day, it reminds me of perseverance, faith, and to stay strong in the face of adversity.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Go with your gut. If something feels wrong or different, it probably does for a reason! Go get it checked out!
2. Don’t be afraid to get a specialist involved or get a second opinion. I jumped all over making an appointment for an ENT. No disrespect to my family doctor/GP, but my ear wasn’t getting better. And I needed ACTION. We are often willing to advocate for our family when they are in this situation but not always for ourselves.
3. It’s ok if you need to have a pity party. I had days where I cried myself to sleep. I moped and whined. I was NOT me for an entire month. Sure, I had moments where I rallied or I faked it. But most of the month, I would have preferred to just stayed curled in the fetal position. My head hurt from the constant noise. The last thing I needed to do was beat myself up because many people in the world have it worse than I do. I could be sad, scared or just plain mad. I was entitled to those emotions.
4. You find out who loves you most when adversity comes to visit. It’s not a test to see who’s your biggest supporter, but it does shine a light on which friends and family are willing to jump in that hole with you. For those that do, you ALWAYS remember and are forever grateful. Be thankful and appreciative for thoughtful, generous friends.
5. You remember who has loved you and will always love you. And it brings you closer to Him. This was the most beautiful offshoot of the whole ordeal. He is with me and for me and I EMBRACED that. I prayed and talked to Him more than I had in a very long time. And not just about my health–it opened the floodgates.
So yeah, it’s a year later. I don’t hear so hot out of my left ear. I do have to ask people to repeat what they said more than I ever thought I would at 40something. But on the plus side, I can hear! There’s no moise symphony going on in my head. The ear infection that turned out to be just a little bit more brought me something I probably needed: a newfound appreciation for my health, a bucket full of humility, and a willingness to accept help when offered.
Message heard loud and clear 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing these hugely important lessons. I’m so glad you’re doing well now and love your wonderful perspective.
Clay Boswell says
Shannan, I have a much better perspective on it now than I did…but for a while I was having trouble making lemonade out of lemons. And I’m a Tigger not an Eeyore! I guess I also wrote this just to say we all have SOMETHING going on at any given point and we all just need a little grace and a smile or a hug or an “are you ok?” And that we should answer HONESTLY if we AREN’T doing ok! Quit putting on a brave face all the time and just tell it like it is. (That is sooo not the Southern way!) Thanks as always for your comment-it always makes me SMILE!
Melanie Clatfelter says
Hey, girl…. thanks for sharing. I have had chronic tinnitus in both ears for about 22 years now. Had a super spike in my right ear, with hearing loss in a few key frequencies, this spring. The internal symphony (sounds more like aliens playing space radio – LOL) goes on and on. So – you sit on my left side, I’ll sit on your right. Otherwise we’re trouble.
Sherry Boswell says
Melanie-you can communicate with aliens? Wow! All kidding aside, hearing problems/tinnitus are no joke but sometimes we have to laugh so we won’t cry, right? I will gladly sit on your left side..I’m thinking it should be at Disney! 😉
Melanie Clatfelter says
Disney sounds good to me… get it. Bad jokes aside, I have had 2 decades to come to terms with how things would be. It runs in the family, so I saw it coming, and over the last 10 years my doc has prepared me. I can hardly imagine it happening suddenly.
Ironic, in that when the hearing loss was good and measurable, they labeled it Sudden Sensory Neural Hearing Loss. How about a diagnosis code for we-knew-it-was-coming-hearing-loss.
Sherry Boswell says
Haha-great pun indeed! When my site was named Music to My Ears, we joked I needed to change it to Music to My Ear!