Do you remember, back in January, Deb writing a guest post for us, about her stapedectomy operation? If you missed it you can read it here. Deb promised us an update on her progress since then and here she is…….
“Well, here I am back again finally, a little longer than the few weeks promised, to conclude my stapedectomy journey. Somehow a whole five months have rushed past. How did that happen?
When I finished my last piece I was 6 weeks post-op and about to start my new job. So what’s happened and how am I feeling now? The last question is very simple to answer – great! And with much improved hearing – though it hasn’t been all plain sailing.
My biggest challenge was lasting over 10 weeks from operation to follow-up appointment with only one hearing aid while my right ear recovered. It doesn’t normally take that long and the delay was due to logistics rather than any medical reason, waiting for an available slot with my consultant. During my recovery, social situations became much more challenging and it struck me just how much I depend on my hearing aids. With one missing, I had to, well endure is really the only way to put it, what would have been a delightful 50th birthday party of a very good friend in a restaurant, the Christmas lunch of my Nordic Walking group – there were over 50 of us at a local golf club, Christmas Day lunch in a local pub and two drinks parties at friends’ houses. Thankfully the second one didn’t have music! And I admit to creeping outside and freezing to find a bit of peace and quiet on several occasions. I found people I met for the first time in these situations somehow always ended up on my “wrong” side, no matter how many times I explained I couldn’t hear a peep in my right ear. More accurately, I could hear them, I just couldn’t decipher what they were saying and after just an hour or so became exhausted with the effort of concentration.
The wait for the consultant appointment also meant that for the first four weeks in my new job I was operating well below par, with only half my normal 75% hearing from my usual two aids. This was utterly exhausting and I would fall asleep as soon as I got home. Happily the longed-for appointment finally arrived and I received the glad tidings the op had been successful and the “after” hearing test confirmed my hearing had improved by about half – yeehah!
This meant of course I would need a new, less powerful aid for my right ear. My delight at the hearing test results was quickly quashed on learning it would be a further 6 weeks before the first Audiology appointment was available. How long??!!! That would total 16 weeks/4 months of low-grade hearing. I was devastated, almost in tears. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep struggling with my new job. Besides meeting scores of new people, as you do in most new jobs, and trying to understand what they were saying, my job as a project manager is, ironically, all about communicating and this was proving almost impossible. I even tried, unwisely, to see if my old aid could be used. Bad move – it nearly blew my head off in the quiet of my bedroom! Looking on the bright side, at least the consultant said I could finally blow my nose, sneeze and stand under the shower without cling film wrapped round my ear.
So the best I could hope for was a cancellation that fortunately came through a week later, with just an hour and a half’s notice. I’ve never rearranged so many meetings nor covered the hour’s journey so fast in my life! And the audiologist replaced not just my right aid but my left one too. The right one is substantially less powerful than the one it replaced. My hearing has improved across all frequencies from between minus 80 and minus 110db to minus 50db and minus 90db. Without doubt it was more than worthwhile undertaking the op, and I didn’t need the hearing test results to know that!
Some side effects do remain, some 5 months after the op, including the temporary loss of taste on the right side of my mouth and occasional dizziness, particularly when lying in bed. The taste buds continue their glacial re-awakening and bouts of dizziness while upright are now rare.
Those of you who have been following carefully will doubtless be waiting to hear (sorry!) me commit to my rash promise to dangle off a rope 100* metres off the ground on Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower in aid of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. So here it is. If you would like to support my brave if bonkers endeavour, you can sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/debfullbrookabseilspinnaker
*For the eagle-eyed amongst you I did previously say 170m. No the tower hasn’t shrunk but thankfully I don’t have to do the spiky bit at the top! Elmo and Keith have sensibly opted to support me from ground level on D(angle) Day. So if you are in Portsmouth on August 26th, pop along for some once-in-a-lifetime entertainment – ‘cos I’m not doing it again!!