Friday, December 21, 2012
Sudden deafness, 3 weeks
It has now been a little more than three weeks since one of my ears suddenly went deaf (because apparently a virus killed the nerves in the ear). I have been taking massive amounts of steroids (prednisolone, 40 mg per day for 14 days, then 30 mg per day) since this is the standard treatment. Around 50% of the people that get treated recover their hearing, which is a worryingly low figure...
Now that it has been three weeks, I have some hearing again. I can hear high frequencies to some extent, though not at all as well as on my good ear (or as well as before this happened). I cannot hear low frequencies at all. You could play low frequency sounds loud enough to vibrate my whole body, and my left ear still does not notice anything. Since the high frequencies seem to have come back to a large extent, I am hoping the low frequencies will come back in time too, but the likelihood of them being gone forever is also fairly high, I am told.
Anyway, the frequencies I can pick up include most of "humans talking", which is a great help. Now I can distinguish were high frequency sounds come from, so sounds are also much easier to separate from other sounds. Before, if there was an echo in a room or if several people spoke at once, I had a VERY hard time trying to hear what someone might be saying. It all sounded like one very strange sound (all sounds melted together into one weird sound that the brain could not make sense of) and it was difficult to understand. This is somewhat surprising, since it is not at all difficult to pick up on what people are saying when you listen to a movie where several people are speaking in a mono channel with just one ear or something like that, but when using just one ear to listen to several people speaking around you, it just did not work for my brain. Now, this works better, which is very nice for me. It also makes me less tired.
That the low frequencies are still completely gone is a little worrying, but at least some things came back so I am happy about that. I am still hoping that more will come back later, but even if it stops at the current level, it is not that horrible.
Currently, the sudden deafness has mainly killed my social life. Not that I had that much fun going on before, but after this my doctor and my pharmacist both said: "On steroids you are much more vulnerable to colds etc. so try to be careful about things like that." Currently we both have influenza, the winter cold, norovirus, and gastroenteritis going around in Sapporo. So I have mainly been staying at home (when I am not working). This means I have pretty much checked of all the movies in my "I should see that movie sometime" list since over a week back, and that I am bored and alone most of my time. In four weeks, I have met up with friends a total of 1 time. I figure it is a small sacrifice to make to be bored but safe for a month or two compared to staying deaf forever. Not that being bored in any way guarantees not staying deaf, but almost anything that helps could be worth doing.