Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hearing restoration seems miraculous

January 12, 2006

"Do you believe that came out of your ear?" the nurse said, taking delight in holding a plastic container to my face for consideration. Inside was a dime-size plug from an eighth- to quarter-inch long.

I could, actually, having been near totally deaf in my right ear for the last month. No disrespect to the nurse, but I really didn't want to dwell on it to that extent. I was ready to move on, back into the wonderful world of stereoscopic sound.

There are plenty of things about the body for which most are comfortable to remain in ignorance, and I certainly felt that way about the cerumen irrigated deep from my ear canal, kind of a pest strip gone wrong.

So living with a stuffed ear that just seemed to occur one day without warning, I had tried what proved to be totally ineffective home remedies of swaps, eardrops and candles.

I remember as a youngster my dad and granddad driving 20 miles to the family doctors to have their ears cleansed. My dad later laughed that there was a lot of missed conversation on the way to the doctor's office.

So I guess my temporary deafness was genetically inevitable.

I became aware just how hearing impaired I'd become when I started talking after the nurse was finished with me. It seemed as if I was bellowing so loudly that I was amazed people didn't take exception.

Suddenly, birds were singing, bells were ringing and children's voices were pealing, or so I suppose -- not that I noticed. I was suddenly aware that my car has a lot of annoying road noises, from air whistling through the weather stripping to a whine telling me it was time for another set of tires.

The plugged ear had its advantages. I could put my good ear to the pillow and sleep undisturbed through any ruckus, certainly a television turned to the weather station by someone who thinks the forecast at 10 p.m. will change four hours later.

On the other hand, it is kind of important to be able to hear in this business and to be able to pick up such subtle words as "not," which can significantly change the meaning of a sentence. And it was getting old feeling as though I was perpetually left out of conversations.

I hadn't experienced such instant results since I got my first pair of eyeglasses while in grade school. I remember riding home that night, finding amazement in the number of stars in the sky and the fact the moon wasn't a big fuzzy ball.

Despite my gratitude at recovering my hearing, I couldn't help but wonder why all my lost capacities can't be that easily restored. Why can't a nurse perform some 20-second procedure on my knees that used to let me spring above the basketball rim but now seem to wake up 20 minutes after the rest of me. Zap, and I run around with no pain or stiffness through a method that doesn't require a lifetime acquaintance with a pharmacist.

And I could be sitting there as I did when the nurse made her comment, thinking, "That was dumb. Walking around as the living deaf when all you had to do was make a five-minute call to the doctor's office."

Unfortunately, miracles aren't that easy to come by. But I did schedule an overdue appointment with an optometrist. I'm pretty sure I can get rid of that blur that's creeping up on the edge of my vision.

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