Although I have known my hearing wasn’t perfect for a few years now, I first found out that I had a more severe problem than I expected almost a year ago when I had a hearing test. The first doctor told me I needed hearing aids, but the audiologist recommended that I get a second opinion because she believed I had otosclerosis, a genetic disease that could be treated by an operation. It took a while for me to get in to see the specialist, but he agreed with the audiologist and told me that I had 3 options: surgery, hearing aids, or to just leave it as is.
This was last April. I was still kind of in shock about the whole thing. Honestly, I didn’t feel like my hearing was that bad. I was just so used to it. The only times I really had problems with it were at work during meetings when I felt like some of my co-workers talked too quietly. But I started realizing how often that happened and how it seemed like I was the only one who couldn’t understand or hear what people were saying. And I started thinking about how great it would be to actually be able to hear and not feel frustrated all the time. So I decided to have the surgery, called a stapedotomy. Of course, I had to wait a while because I had EuroAdventure 2012 to plan, pay for, and enjoy. But in December, I finally scheduled the surgery.
That took place yesterday. I was quite emotional on the day before the surgery. Scared and uncertain. I was secretly hoping they’d have to postpone it because I had a slight cold. I had read lots of recovery stories on the Internet, so I had some idea of what I was getting myself into, but I still had no idea how I personally would react to it. It’s a fairly common, same-day procedure, but as with any surgery, there are always risks. One of those risks is a very slight potential for total hearing loss in that ear. I was only having surgery done on my left ear, so I didn’t run the risk of going completely deaf, but I started thinking about how much I love hearing. There are so many wonderful sounds! I came up with a partial list:
rain on the rooftops,
the geese that fly over the parking lot at work
footsteps of little kids running to me
cooing and gurgling of babies
crunchy snow and leaves
lawnmowers on a Saturday morning
flags crackling in the wind
the waves catching the shore
not to mention music. And how I’ve always loved music!
When I woke up in the recovery room after the surgery, I was so disoriented. I didn’t have my glasses. I couldn’t remember anything, and I reached up to my ear to see what had happened. It was covered with a cotton ball, so I knew the surgery had taken place. But I could also hear so much. I understood the whispered conversation of two nurses 20 feet away from me. I could hear another nurse getting ice chips across the room. I heard all of the monitors beeping. I felt like I had a super power. It was so bizarre. And so exciting.
I am home now and will be off work for a week while I recover. So far, I haven’t had the dizziness or nausea that I read about on the health boards. My hearing isn’t quite as super-powered anymore because of swelling. From what I understand, it will take a few months for my hearing to stabilize. The only really strange side effect that I’ve had so far is that I can’t taste anything on the left side of my tongue. I used to think that if I was going to lose any of the 5 senses, I would go with taste. And I still think, all things considered, that taste would be the easiest to let go. But over the past two days, I’ve realized just how bland life would be without it.
There’s a song I used to sing at church as a child called “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.” I thought of the lyrics yesterday.
Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav’nly Father created for me.
He gave me my eyes that I might see
the color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
the magical sound of things.
He gave my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev’rently
For all his creations of which I’m a part.
Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.
I’m so grateful for this beautiful world – for hearing all those magical things. And even if, in the worst-case scenario, I did lose my hearing, I’m grateful for the memory of them.