The Story of the Surgery (part 1)

January 4, 2009

It was roughly a year ago, settling into a comfortable relationship with Sarah, that I decided I hadn't been hearing so well. Laying on my left side in bed, the television talking too loudly in the background, I strained to hear her, even when curled up close to me. I had had a persistent ringing over the last year that started shortly after dating Suzan which I attributed to too many years of loud clubs, concerts, or music rehearsals. But it had become distinctly louder since then. Covering my left ear, I heard a low rushing sound in the right like the sound of outer space in science fiction movies or a blanket of fuzzy white noise. Then some months later I started getting waves of dizziness, which were not entirely unpleasant, unless I was attempting to do something that required thought -- like work. Remembering that my mother had a condition called labyrinthitis that left her in a similar state when I was younger, I decided to go get tested.

Dr. Melissa Heche's office looked worn and outdated, like so many doctor's offices I've seen in New York City. Dr. Heche, herself, looked a little scattered, a nest of permed
auburn hair and hair clips poking out at odd angles and a tad too much makeup. Young and vaguely attractive, she didn't look much like a doctor save for the white lab coat and 1970s audiological testing equipment that reminded me of early elementary school hearing tests. After a number of probing questions about my lifestyle and habits, as well as a strict admonition as to how recreational drug use can cause impotence, she administered a battery of tests after which she sat me down looking unsettlingly sympathetic.

"You're correct. You've lost about fifty percent hearing in your right ear. Well below what you should be hearing for someone your age. Your other ear has slight hearing loss as well, though still in the normal range, so I'm not so concerned about that right now. But I'd like to refer you to a specialist. Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes."

Dr. Abbas Kashani had about the best bedside manner of any doctor I'd ever met. A good-looking, relatively young, Iranian ear, nose, and throat doctor, he inserted a long flexible hose with a camera at the end up my nose for a deep inspection. It was amazingly uncomfortable. Like having a probe deep inside your brain or the burning sensation of chlorinated water singeing your nose. After asking if I was British (apparently my diction is THAT good), he hoped optomistically that perhaps this was just an allergy issue and recommended that I take Allegra and a sprayed nasal steroid to try to burst the build-up of bodily fluids that could be compromising my hearing. I was to come back in a month to see if the strategy worked.