Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Room With A View

I'm not liking this trend of mine. I was back in the emergency room at Ridges in Burnsville for most of this afternoon. That's the 3rd time in the past 11 months!

I developed a blockage in my left ear on Monday after removing some earplugs I was wearing while mowing. Tammy checked my ears out with her otoscope and saw that there was indeed some buildup of gunk. I went to Walgreens and bought some drops to help soften any wax buildup and the next morning Tammy flushed my ears clean but the blocked ear sensation continued. I could hear through my left ear but there was a loud, persistent ringing that kept me from hearing much else from it. This continued into last night (Friday) when Tammy suggested I go to Urgent Care and have it looked at.

The UC doctor said my eustachian tube/canal was full of clear fluid (it's supposed to be just air in there) and that it was the source of my problem. She tested my hearing to determine that I did still have hearing in both ears. She was encouraged because the liquid behind my eardrum was clear and not a milky color which would've indicated an infection. She offered to write me a prescription for Prednisone saying that it's one of the best remedies for the problem. I declined, preferring to avoid using that drug unless absolutely necessary considering how much I have to depend on it during a cluster headache phase. She suggested I try Mucinex D as it will thin the mucus and act as a decongestant, then she sent me on my way with some literature about my ear's condition.

I woke up this morning with no noticeable improvement in my left ear and went about troubleshooting the failure of our front yard landscape lights. I had hoped to do a quick loop out to Murphy and back on my Shaman but there's some light-headedness with my ear problem and I figured it would be best to lay low today.

I tried to make a phone call late this morning and that's when I noticed I had absolutely no hearing in my left ear. None! I told Tammy and she insisted that I go to the ER at Ridges to have it looked at. My mother permanently lost hearing in her right ear in her early 30s due to an infection and I didn't want to bring that possibility into play although I couldn't be sure if it wasn't already too late.

The admitting attendant walked me back along a route I know too well and said she had "a room with a view" for me. Say what? Not back here you don't. She had me take off my shirt and put on a gown and lay back on the reclining bed. That's when I noticed the view. Haha! Very funny! (See photo to the left)

I figured the doctor there would take a look and quickly send me on my way with a prescription for prednisone which I would now unhesitatingly take.

Not so fast.

They inserted an IV and did a blood draw then the doctor conducted a Rinne test to determine what type of hearing loss I was experiencing, either sensorineural or conductive. The results weren't conclusive enough for the ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor that my doctor was in communication with at another facility so she sent me back to have an MRI scan done.

The scan took all of the 40 minutes the tech said it would. I was wearing headphones tuned to Pandora and the Jason Isbell channel but I could barely hear any music through the noise of the MRI machine which for some odd reason also seemed to be fed into the headphones. Disturbingly, I heard absolutely nothing on my left side. That worried me.

I was wheeled back to the room where I was happy to see Tammy and her mother who had arrived while I was away. I had told her it wasn't necessary for her to uproot Mom to be with me but she didn't mind and so neither did I.

The doctor came back after getting the results from the radiologist and said the hearing loss is idiopathic in nature. She said I need to be seen by the ENT office she was working with either Monday or Tuesday and to also begin a short course of prednisone to allow it to do whatever it does in the way of reducing inflammation and hopefully focus its healing power on my inner ear.

It's evening now and the drug has been in my body doing its thing for the past 4 hours. I'm hopeful that I'll see some improvement in the next 24 to 36 hours. If not, I may have given my last clearance at work. Yeah, I'm way past my "sell by" date as an air traffic controller it would appear but that's the least of my worries.

I'm much more concerned about getting my hearing back.

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