Thursday, December 29, 2005


As if being diagnosed with bursitis and cancer this year weren't enough, now I have more good news: I'm half deaf.

The hearing loss, which is about 10 percent worse in my left ear, is an indirect result of the cancer surgery two weeks ago. The anesthesia and breathing tube apparently conspired in an effort to give me a sinus infection. That sinus infection has conspired with cleft palate surgery I had as an infant, and now I have fluid in my inner ears and can't hear well at all. To add insult to injury, I had to ask the ear doctor what he had said when he told me I was half-deaf.

In a healthy person, when fluid gathers in the inner ear behind the eardrum, it drains naturally down a part of the ear called a station tube and enters the person's nose, where it's blown out sooner or later. Because my cleft palate required corrective surgery when I was still an infant, the muscles controlling my station tube don't work quite right, and sometimes the tube remains shut, so my ears can't drain. It's a lot like the feeling you get when you're on an airplane and your ears won't pop. (Same principle, different application.)

So the doctor has put me on a new prescription that he hopes will help. If it doesn't, I may need tubes put into my ears for the first time in about 25 years. If it comes to that, with my luck, the doctor will trip and poke me in the eye, leaving me half blind.

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