On Sunday, October 15, I ended the day feeling ill, and was grateful for Tali’s Ayurvedic ministrations. They helped. Monday morning saw some improvement but by evening I needed an early bedtime. Tuesday, we attended to a number of tasks, and right away I realized that I had a sinus or similar problem; by supper time I had nearly no hearing.
Somewhere in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, October 18, I was seriously considering tiptoeing into Tali’s room and getting a ride to the nearest emergency medical center rather than a lift to the airport.
I stuck it out. I emptied my gut once on the ride to the airport and again on leg one of the flight home. It was a long, dreadful trip.
I have been fully deaf now for seven days.
This deafness is congested, echo-ey, gelatinous. I can hear myself but when a person speaks, I only see their lips move. For some reason it has also put a clock’s tick-tock inside my head. With each day, it seems I sink deeper, separated further from all sensations. Food is losing its flavor. But then nerves that transmit taste are bundled with nerves that convey sound. I learned that from a visiting doctor back around 1972 when I ran the photocopy service at Harvard’s Countway Library of Medicine.
This deafness gives me the unthinkable urge to just poke something sharp into my ear and see if that solves the problem, even though I know it will create a problem infinitely greater.
This deafness periodically provokes uncontrollable tears.
I had just run away from Dan’s loss by running to places where we had been so happy. Now the largeness of this home we made, without his presence, as often silent as that was, unnerves.
There is no retreat from my new reality. No telephone, television, radio or music. Nothing, because deafness repels everything. Even ET could phone home because ET, at least, could hear.
I have always been uber-competent. If someone got hurt, I staunched the blood and got medical assistance for the injured. In the face of car accidents and other catastrophes, I could sort out the details and move things forward. If a challenge loomed, I sat down and made lists until I wrestled the tasks into submission.
I have taken care of myself, one way or another, since I was eleven years old.
To not be able to deal with my own health care? Unthinkable.
I harbored thoughts of asking my Tattooed Boy to come over and call the scheduling nurse as I needed an appointment “in the next three days.” He, however, was at work, although due here anyway at four o’clock.
Lynn stepped in. It didn’t matter that she was in Cleveland, Ohio, because that’s what friends are for.
She came up with a link to a Johns Hopkins ENT practice with a couple of doctors whose credentials met with her approval. Then she called and was told to call back after one. I provided her with all the information I could imagine so that she could persuade an office nurse to talk to her, given that she is not on my emergency notification list or a known person in my MyChart records.
Long story short. I have an appointment with Dr. Andrew Curt Goldstone at his office at GBMC in Towson.
Ironically, I also received a text message, the next day, from someone saying they had received a referral and that I was to call to schedule an appointment. The message that to my overwhelming distress, I can’t simply pick up a telephone and call, seems to have gotten lost in translation. I needed the appointment because the ear infection rendered me completely deaf.
My problems may not be resolved after that meeting but at least I no longer feel I am trapped in this muffling goo, separated from all human contact.
Dan’s absence hasn’t changed, either.
But at least I no longer feel isolated by that change.