I can hear clearly now
December 5, 2007
I’ve had ear problems all my life, back in the days when I’d recite “K-K-K-K-K” while old Doctor Mattthews, holding an air hose to my nostril, would blast open my eustacian tubes. There were earaches and lancings as well as a great deal of misunderstandings because of miscommunication.
The situation improved when I grew up and got out of the East Coast dampness, but the years have taken their toll ,and I presently have bad hearing in my right ear, about which nothing can be done because I have a hole in my right eardrum, and my left ear is limping along fairly well with a little plastic tube inserted into that eardrum.
The tubes are a recent miracle invention, now commonly inserted into the eardrums of children who are prone to infections. Kids are knocked out for this procedure, since it’s scary and hurts and is LOUD (scrape, scrape, TWANG), but adults can grit it out on the office table and it only takes a few minutes.
Dr. Goodstein, in Glenwood Springs, has put in four of these tubes over the past decade, the last three purported to be “permanent” but working themselves out anyway. The first sign that something is awry is a crackling and the kind of ear-popping you feel in landing airplanes, and the next sign is saying, “Huh?” and “What?” all the time and cranking the TV volume to 65.
About three weeks ago, the latest tube started falling out. By the time the requisite wait for an appointment was over, I was ready to hammer a cocktail straw into my eardrum if it would relieve the pressure and bring on the sound.
I don’t know why it takes so long to get in to see Dr. Goodstein (whom I love), because he is as fast as a humming bird. He took a quick look, confirmed that the right ear was unchanged and the tube had fallen out of the left; off we went down the hall to The Table.
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Dr. Goodstein and his assistant, Jan, are a well-oiled surgical team. This tube was larger and felt like a half-inch drill bit being driven into my eardrum, and then POW, the sound came in and he was dictating his notes.
Twenty minutes after I arrived in his office on Monday, I was on my way back to the parking lot with the new tube in place and the traffic noise on Glenwood’s quiet side streets sounding like the din of a major metropolis.
Now, the clacking of my computer keyboard sounds like a manual Underwood typewriter, and what a sweet sound it is. My house is thrumming with previously muted noise: the refrigerator, the dishwasher, the splash of water in the tub.
I’m lucky to have a condition that can be fixed by ear tubes. I have friends whose hearing impairments cannot be helped by hearing aids or the latest operations ” they’re stuck for life in degrees of isolation, often with the added torture of ears ringing and sound distorted.
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