On May 9, 2015, at approximately 11:00 a.m., my left ear went completely silent. It was as quick as that. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Idiopathic, meaning there’s no explanation.
But I didn’t know at the time that I was deaf. I’d been shredding papers for about a half-hour, and when I stopped, my left ear felt plugged up, like it does on an airplane, begging for a series of hippopotamus yawns to release the pressure. It didn’t work, but I didn’t know I was deaf until the next day when I held the phone to my left ear, and I thought the phone was dead.
No sound whatsoever.
The paramedics who picked me up off the floor that Saturday—I couldn’t even sit up for all the spinning from a violent episode of vertigo—and who carried me on a stretcher and shuttled me to the ER, told me I had an inner ear disorder. The doctor concurred.
My hearing test three days later showed profound deafness on the left side, beyond the help of hearing aids. The audiologist’s look was grim. If there’s a tumor, I will never get my hearing back, he said, as he signed me up for an MRI. If the MRI is negative, then I have a 25% chance of regaining my hearing, 25% of permanent deafness, and 50% of partial hearing. “I’m sorry to sounds so negative,” he said. “But this is serious.”
Several factors are working against me, he further explained. My age: I am, shall we say, in the strands-of-silver age group. Speed of onset: immediate. Severe vertigo: we don’t have as successful a recovery rate.
I’m completely shocked.
You see, there are two things you need to understand about me. First, I don’t do sick. But if I’m stricken by some stubborn virus that refuses to honor my boundaries, I choose the quickest path to wholeness, basically ignoring the slimeball. I simply don’t give power to ill health.
And second, I take care of myself. Yet I, who never abused my ears, never went to rock concerts, never wore headphones while thunderous music blasted, never even blow-dried my hair much, never worked with piercing chainsaws or earsplitting machines for my career, I, of all people, lost my hearing. Obviously, justice is ignoring my clearly stated desire for good health.
Here’s the reality: What I feel on a daily basis is fullness in my left ear, a gently humming fan sound that increases throughout the day to a roaring white noise, and a desperate need to lie down several times a day to quiet the phantom noises and get my energy back—the plugged feeling and constant whirring wear me down over time.
But what you’ll see on a daily basis is someone who refuses to be a victim. I have a 25% chance of getting my hearing back completely, and I’m going for that. So I behave as if I’m a perfectly healthy, fully functioning person. You‘ll see me jetting here and there to visit those I love. Dancing with Twitch on the Ellen Show. Helping my little students who have dyslexia know success. Saying, “Thank you, you too,” to the drive-through bank teller, hoping she just wished me a good day and not something like, “You forgot to wipe your boogers.” And you’ll see me savoring family, visiting and entertaining friends, strolling, hiking, swimming, doing yoga, writing, creating.
What I will not do is add worry to this physical challenge. Nor will I drown in regret that darn, I shouldn’t have shredded those documents, that a single moment in time changed everything. I’ll not pierce the silence with complaining, adding negativity to all that is positive in my life.
And I won’t give up. A 25% chance of getting my hearing back—those are good odds. 25% of never getting it back—the chances are slim.
What I will do is focus on all that’s good. I have faith in the power of the body to heal, and I’ve surrounded myself with good doctors and other healers of differing paradigms to facilitate that process. I have faith in my God, who promises, not to spare me from the human condition, but to be with me through it all, and who desires that I have life and have it to the fullest.
I don’t expect to have a tumor, and I intend to get my hearing back. But if, even with all this support, I am to follow a silent journey, one with diminished or absent hearing, I’m at peace.
So you’ll see my trademark smile. If I’m going to be a half-deaf person with a noisy head, then by cracky, I’m going to be a happy half-deaf person with a noisy head.
I love life, my life, sudden hearing loss and all. Given that our journey simply does hold challenges, if I were to throw every possible woe into a pond and fish one out for myself, I might just choose this one. It could be so much worse.
My favorite mystic, Julian of Norwich, recorded this revelation: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” As I like to tell my children: We know the end of the story. And if it doesn’t seem like all is well right now, then it isn’t the end of the story–yet. My personal history confirms that truth. Where there is death, there is always resurrection.
Yes, all shall be well. Just watch.
copyright 2015 Maggie McCann Pike
Maggie McCann Pike
- BORN TO LOVE
- THE DAY MIGHTY CASEY STRUCK OUT