Today I got my eardrum pierced. Yes, eardrum. Not ear lobe. Those were done at 16? 18? The moment it was legal, as my mother had made her feelings clear. "Of course you can pierce your ears. Just as soon as you pierce your nose and wear a ring through it." Which, now, no biggie. Back in the mid '70s, not so much.
It started a bad day. After the past few days making themselves clear that the oral Prednisone was likely not going to be the much-hoped-for deus ex machina, I woke to a horrific case of the Wibbledy-Wobbledies and a raging roar in Damned Left Ear. Driving was possible, but not fun. I went to lunch with a bestie, for a well-deserved treat and some hugs, and then off to work. My entire body has been feeling the lack of movement that the WW-s will give a person, so I forced myself to take the stairs. Carefully. Very, very carefully. Safety first! Caught up on a few things, met with my (fabulous) boss, planned for how we would continue through this morass, and headed off to the doctor's office.
Husbandly One, working a grueling job a hour or more away, made it his life's work to get done in time to accompany, and miracle of miracles, was on time! (The man was born for lateness, showed up late in our lives, and the only reason he was on time to our wedding was because it was next door to our house. But I digress. He was on time, and that turned out to be exceedingly merciful.)
In that first doctor appointment, it was like being hit with a Mack truck. You hear the words, you think you are absorbing the words, but you're not. 30-40% chance of ever regaining enough hearing in Damned Left Ear to even make a hearing aid a useful piece of equipment? Pretty sure I missed that number first time around. Which was another reason to have the H.O. there. He is so much better about pushing for details and answers than I am. Plus, he's not just been hit by the truck. Perhaps just a small vehicle for him.
So there was that (Mack Truck, Round Two!) and the reiteration of the profound level of extra-super-sized fun version of this I've been hit with. But, some good news (hey, it's all relative at this point) in there too. That sucky percentage chance of hearing retrieval? The numbers flip for possible reversal of the Wobblies. So, 60-70% chance of regaining a life without permanent vertigo. And man, oh, man. If there's one thing I've gotten very clear on in the last 10 days, it's how fast I'd trade the hearing loss for a world that remains vertical and stable. In a heartbeat.
So we knew that the next round of treatment were shots, loosely akin to the epidurals I'd had in my back. Now, I'm a research freak. A total nerd. When my dad was diagnosed with the cancer that ultimately took him, I knew within an hour what all the odds were, treatments, possibilities, etc. But on this one, I just haven't gone there yet. Not sure why. Maybe it's that Mack Truck. At any rate, I had not thought much about what the shot(s) would entail. Loosely. Very loosely. "How on earth might they get the medicine into that tiny little thing (cochlea) inside the ear?" I did wonder. "Seems like messing about from the side or rear would be tricky. Lotta bone in that whole area of this here thick skull." But I really had not thought about it much. I mean, it's not like I've been shy on things to think and worry about of late, don'tcha know...
Going in today, with zero improvement, I knew we were headed for shots. But with epidurals as my only guide, I figured we'd have to schedule a hospital appointment, and etc. So maybe tomorrow or the next day. Nope. The doctor came in, answered our myriad questions, asked me about status, and said, "Well, we talked about the next step in treatment. Without it, you have a basically zero chance of regaining any hearing. Would you like to start?"
Ah, Hobbesian choices. Love 'em. "Why sure. I guess I would. Do we schedule?"
"Nope. We do it right here. I'll be right back."
So off I went for a pee and a bit of a tiny panic attack in the bathroom, and then it was time. No special tables, no imaging machines, none of that. Back in the chair, slowly, to allow for the Wobblies, and the procedure starts. BUT WAIT! It turns out that the way into that pesky little devil causing all the trouble is THROUGH THE EARDRUM.
Let me repeat that. THROUGH MY FUCKING EARDRUM. Yes. There is no other way, and if I'd thought about it for a real moment, or even when the H.O. was reading all the charts, and pointing out all of the science I would typically be interested in, were I not in a state of barely-controlled panic, we would have seen that. There's one way in, and it's through a thin membrane that I have always heard one wanted to keep whole. Taut. Pristine. One might even say virginal. The tympanic membrane, to be exact.
So they pierce it once, then twice, then fill it with the whatevers - more steroids, if I'm recalling correctly - and Bob's your uncle. Naturally, there's a local anesthesia for the area. But it still hurt. A lot. Quite a lot. Apparently it's not typical for it to hurt for more than just a few minutes as all that good stuff dribbles in on Problem Cochlea, but also apparently I'm still on the bonus plan. Lucky me! Sometimes a person doesn't really want to be that special, but we get what we get.
It's a few hours later, and while I'm still reeling from the shock, and it may take days to know if it will have any effect on the hearing, there is a slight ray of sunshine in all this: the Wobblies improved within an hour. So I'm going to take that as a sign of larger hope. Who knows? Maybe I can still come out of this on the long odds side for the hearing as well. But for right now? I'd take losing the Wobblies.