Monday, 23 January 2012

Monday 23th Jan

Monday morning I was up early, partly due to the time difference and partly due to the new noisy friends I had acquired in my left ear. I was rather amused at the strangeness and variety of sounds that only my left ear could hear. I would quickly grow tired of them but for now I was interested in this new phenomena and was still fairly hopeful that it was a temporary condition. I waited impatiently for the Oxford Hearing Centre to open so I could call and book an appointment. I, and the rest of the band had visited there around five years ago to have foam moulds of our ears made for our custom made in-ear monitoring systems. They are called Ultimate Ears but if you ask me, there is nothing ultimate about them. They cost over £600 a pair and sound pretty poor I my opinion. There is a room in the marketplace for a better in-monitoring system if anyone reading would like to have a go. Last time we went to the OHC I opted to have a hearing test. I recall the rest of the band choose not to on the basis that they didn't want to know what damage they have inflicted on their poor ears over the years. My hearing test was unremarkable, it showed some age related loss in the higher frequencies and a small amount of noise related loss in my left ear. This visit would be different. I spoke to a nice chap on the phone and he said I should come in straight away but not to worry, it was probably wax. I drove to Oxford in a hurry. I wasn't reassured by his "probably wax" over-the-phone diagnosis. When I arrived he was bright and breezy, asked me about my holiday and explained that ear wax was hydrophilic and expands on contact with water. The sea water mixed with the wax and made a solid plug in my ear. Simple. He swung the TV monitor my way so I could see as he stuck a camera in my ear. We both had a perfect view of my eardrum completely free of wax. That's the first time I had ever seen an eardrum and it looked like a delicate pink concave translucent membrane. I was fascinated that such a simple thing could be the conduit of everything we can hear from the highest whistles to the sub bass under the stage at our gigs. I was also struck by the change of demeanour in the audiologist who was examining me. He looked concerned as he whipped out an oversize tuning fork, banged it on the table and stuck it to the middle of my forehead. "Where is the sound coming from?" he asked. "Somewhat to the right" I replied. I didn't understand the significance of this test but he did and said we should carry out a full hearing test. Now. The tuning fork was conducting the sound straight through my skull to my inner ears. Had my hearing been normal I would have heard the sound in the middle. Barotrauma doesn't normally affect the inner ear but I was blissfully unaware of this at this point. He shut me in a booth and proceeded to send me a bunch of different frequencies through the cans and I became increasingly worried. Eventually he announced that I should go immediately to A&E because this was a medical emergency. Nice. I drove like a bat (with one ear) out of hell to The John Radcliffe Hospital. Spoke to Angie on the way trying not to cry as I told her what was happening. She came to meet me at A&E and we sat there for 4 hours as people came and went with various injuries from dog bites to burns while my "medical emergency" went unattended. It's true, I wasn't feeling any physical pain but it seemed that the more time passed the less that could be done for my broken ear. Eventually I was seen by a junior ENT doctor who said there was nothing they could do and that I should go home.

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