SSHL Strikes Back

For those of you who know me IRL (In Real Life) or follow any of my social media accounts you will know that I suffered from further deterioration in my hearing, but this time in my left (“good”) ear.

For those of you don’t know the background, I’ll quickly recap on the past weeks events; On Saturday morning I woke up to what I can only describe as an “empty feeling” in my left ear and severe tinnitus. I also noted that I couldn’t hear some sounds that I could previously in that ear, now it is worth noting that I did not have a lot of hearing in this ear but could hear loud noises such as something falling off the wall for example.

I recognised the symptoms from my previous experience with SSHL and took myself off to the out of hours GP at my local hospital. The GP, although sympathetic, was not aware of this hearing loss (or cochlear implants for that matter) and so was quite happy to just prescribe me the steroids I asked for. I knew what steroids I needed from the last occurrence and made sure to stress I needed them within 72 hours, and at least until I could get to the ENT consultant/Audiologist at the earliest opportunity and so steroid treatment began with 8 tablets a day.

As I could not get an appointment with my ENT/Audiologist department until the Wednesday, I went back to my GP surgery and spoke to a wonderful doctor who informed me her cousin is an ENT specialist and that his brother had suffered with SSHL so she was well versed in the urgency of the matter. She was very thorough and made sure she understood my history before contacting the ENT department at my hospital seeking clarification on the steroid dose I had been prescribed; she was concerned that the dosage was too low, and was proved correct. She immediately put me on the correct dosage and made sure all the information was relayed to the ENT on call doctor for my notes on Wednesday – I thought 8 tablets a day was bad enough, I wasn’t prepared for a whooping 14 tablets a day!!

So off I toddled back to the Royal National yesterday, truely, a home away from home it feels.

I had an appointment with the audiologist who performed an updated audiogram on my left ear and confirmed that I had lost the lower frequencies completely in my left ear as suspected. Below is a reconstruction of what my audiogram now looks like in my left ear;

Left hearing Jan16

She referred me to the ENT consultant who just happened to be in that day for further discussion and advice.

The Dr confirmed that he suspected the dreaded SSHL had returned and attacked my left ear but confessed that they cannot 100% confirm this diagnosis as the ear is too small to examine in greater detail and no scans would be able to give them enough detail to determine the cause. He also stated that it could occur again in the future, although, one positive for me, is that it is now less likely to affect me because I now have so little hearing to lose. He also confirmed that if it did come back, it would not affect the effectiveness of the implant – good news for the “star patient” of the CI team.

Whilst he confirmed I made the right decision in seeking steroid treatment from the GP, he stated that because it had no effect last time, it was unlikely to make any difference this time around. He suggested an alternative; steroid injections directly into the middle ear as these target the area much quicker and have less of an effect on the body that taking 14 tablets every day. Whilst he could not guarantee the effectiveness of these injections, or that they might improve the situation, I agreed to go ahead with a course of three injections over a week and then be retested immediately following the course.

Unfortunately, they were unable to slot me into yesterday’s clinic so I returned bright and early, at 8.30am this morning for my first injection.

I. WAS. NOT. PREPARED.

I, rather naively believed that after my CI operation and multiple piercings in my left ear, that I would be able to handle a little injection. I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.

Before the injection;                                     After the injection;

before          after

**If you are of a squeamish nature, do not read any further!!**

There were three stages to the injection; firstly, they had to spray a local anesthetic into the ear and after a few minutes, suction away the excess fluid. Secondly, they had to pierce a teeny hole into my ear with the needle for air to escape before finally injecting the steroids into the middle ear.

I cannot even begin to describe the pain. Imagine the worst earache you have ever had, multiply that by about 1,000,000,000 and then add in someone poking your ear with a hot poker, constantly. I was in tears, I think the consultant was rather shocked by my reaction.

I have to have a further two injections; one on Monday morning (What a wonderful way to start my week) and next Thursday and I really do not know whether I want to go ahead and have them done at the moment.

**it is now safe to read!!**

So whilst the injections are not guaranteed to work, I wanted to give myself the best chance I could to treat this and regain some of the hearing, although, ultimately, it could be permanently lost.

So please, do look out for the warning signs, I know I have repeatedly harped on about it, but your ears are so very important and can have dramatic effects on your mental and physical health.

My next post will coincide with Tinnitus Awareness Week (Feb 8-16th 2016) – Don’t forget to look out for my monthly blogs for Restored Hearing too!

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