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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sudden deafness, 4 weeks

It has now been four weeks since I got sudden deafness and my left ear went completely deaf. This means a virus killed the nerves in my left ear and I lost the hearing there. Even if treated, only about half the people who get this fully recover, and quite a few never get any hearing back at all, so this was quite worrying news...

I have been taking large amounts of steroids (40 mg/day for 14 days, 30 mg/day since then) and will keep taking steroids for awhile (the last time I spoke to my doctor the plan was 20 mg/day for another three weeks).

In the beginning, I could hear some very very high frequency sounds very very faintly, and nothing else. My right ear works fine, though, so in quiet environments I have no problems. When there are several sounds, my brain had problems separating sounds or to know if it was actually sounds from different sources or just one sound. That meant that I had problems hearing what people said, everything sounded like one strange sound, not like several separate sounds. It also meant I got really tired quickly, since the brain seemed to have to do a lot of extra work in processing sounds.

I could also not hear where sounds were coming from, so I could sometimes hear that a car was coming towards me, but could not hear if it was coming from the right, left, behind, or whatever. Often, I could also not recognize sounds, since they sounded very strange in the left ear (which heard only the high frequency components of the sound). Car engines and running water sounded pretty much the same to me, and some very strange sounds that I could not understand what it might be turned out to be a wrecking crew tearing down a house, etc.

After two weeks of steroids, the high frequencies were a little improved, but not so much that it helped in any meaningful way. Low frequencies I was completely dead to.

After three weeks, the high frequencies were much improved. This was great. I can now hear more frequencies, and the ear hears them at lower sound volumes too. It is not as good as it used to be, but it helps tremendously. The brain can now usually figure out where sounds are coming from (since almost all sounds also have a high frequency component), so I get much less tired.

The frequencies I can hear also include almost all human speech. This helps a lot and I have a much better chance of hearing what people say even in noisy environments. It is not as good as it used to be, but pretty good.

Still no improvement at all on low frequencies, though. Nothing. I can play base sounds on a volume that shakes the walls and makes my bone structure vibrate, but the left ear still does not react at all. The right ear hears everything, though.

That I got the frequencies for human speech back is the most important, so missing the low frequencies is not all that bad in perspective I guess. That they have not come back at all is a little worrying though. For some people, the improvement is slow (months), so I guess I still have some hope of getting some more hearing back.

Taking large amounts of steroids also has some side effects, and some of them are pretty bad. So far, I have not had any really bad effects that I have noticed. What has happened to me so far is that:

1) I get really hungry and eat way more than I usually do. This means I have gained some weight, about 3 kg. But I am assuming most of it is pure muscle. What else could it be when I am taking steroids, right? haha.

2) My skin is not doing great. Small nicks heal much slower than normal. Parts of my face react much stronger to cold than usual. Sometimes my face feels a bit stiff or strange. Since about a week back, my back has quite a lot of acne too.

3) My social life has died. When taking steroids, the risk of getting colds etc. is very high my doctor and my pharmacist tell me. So they strongly suggest being very careful about things like that, and preferably avoid being around lots of people. So I have mainly stayed at work (no one every talks to me there) and at home (watching endless movies and TV shows). For some people with sudden deafness, it seems to help to have a low salt diet, so I usually cook and eat at home now (so I can avoid salt) instead of eating at the places where my friends work or go to eat.

Other than that, I am doing fine.

After four weeks, nothing that I have noticed myself has changed since the three week mark. The hearing of high frequencies seems to be the same, the hearing of low frequencies is still 0.

I am happy about having quite a lot of the hearing of people speaking back again (though it would be nice if it came back fully, since I still do not hear it as well as I used to) and life is more or less fine. I am a bit worried that the low frequencies have not improved at all, but even if they never come back, I guess life will still be OK.

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