Ok, this guy could not have been less interested in me. What is it with me? I am totally disinteresting to everyone. No one wants to know.
I have had major hearing loss in my left ear, and minor hearing loss in my right ear. My right ear is still within normal limits, so the recommendation from the audiologist was for a hearing aid in my left ear, to improve my hearing and the constant tinnitus I now have. But before I can get a hearing aid, I need to be checked out by an Otolaryngologist (ENT), because unilateral (one ear only) hearing loss is unusual, and there can be several causes for this which require treatment.
So I saw the ENT this morning. He briefly examined my ears. And he waved a few tuning forks in front of my ears, and asked me whether I could hear them. I could.
He declared my hearing loss mild, and said a hearing aid would still help however.
I asked him about the tinnitus, he said a hearing aid might help that too.
I told him about my balance issues, the nausea, the vertigo. I asked him if they were inner ear related. He said he didn’t think so. And suggested I go see a neurologist.
I told him I’d seen a neurologist, and I’d had an MRI and the neurologist found no explanation for my balance issues in my scans. So he called up the scans and had a look. Then he tells me that I have what looks like a stroke on my MRI. I said yes, I know. But my neurologist said the strokes are so small that they do not account for the balance issues.
My ENT disagreed. He told me to go back and see the neurologist. He said he can’t help with the balance issues, because they would be a result of the strokes. End of conversation.
He wasn’t prepared to do any balance testing, or inner ear testing. Just a quick look at my middle ear, that appeared fine, and go away please.
I asked him what the cause of the hearing loss is, and he said that the bones in your ear just get stiffer with age. And when they don’t move freely, you no longer hear well. This is called otosclerosis. I asked if that caused balance problems, and he said no. I asked if RA or inflammatory arthritis contributed, and he said no.
Lots of one word answers. Really helpful guy. He also tried to blame all my pain meds for the dizziness. With respect, no. They are not the cause. I know this. It’s an entirely different feeling. He said ‘How would you know?’
I repeated that the dopiness and dizziness related to oxycodone feels different. Quite different. I can’t explain it any more than that. Additionally I have been taking these drugs for more years than I have had these rather problematic balance problems.
He tried to shuffle me out. I think five minutes of the consult had passed by this time.
I refused to get up on his cue.
I asked him what could be done about the hearing loss. He said there was a surgical option, but my hearing loss wasn’t bad enough to do the surgery. I said my hearing loss was bad enough for me. I can’t understand people if I can’t see their lips. I can’t hear at all with background noise. I don’t hear people calling me from behind. My hearing loss might only be moderate to him, but it was a little more than that for me. I asked him if the surgery would improve the balance issues. He said no.
I asked him about Meniere’s disease. He said I definitely don’t have that. I asked why, and he said I have conductive hearing loss, and that means it’s not Meniere’s. Seems to me he should be doing some balance testing, because there is no way to tell what’s going on in my inner ear without more testing. But he wasn’t interested. No further testing. My balance problems are not his problem. And he would not discuss it.
Short, sharp answers, not inviting any more questions. He couldn’t care less, and wanted me to leave.
So I gave up and left. Drove myself home. Felt dizzy and sick all the way. As I explained to him, the dizziness is as debilitating as the arthritis. Everything spins, and the ground seems to move. And I feel so incredibly tired. And sleepy. When I get home I have to lie down and close my eyes for a while. It’s like sensory overload, everything is too bright, I feel sick to the stomach, the room spins, I can’t walk a straight line, sometimes I fall and sometimes the nausea is so bad I throw up.
I need to know what is causing this. I need vestibular testing, which is usually performed by an otolaryngologist. When I was reading about this I was excited, because I thought I was finally going to get to the bottom of my vertigo and balance problems. But this doctor couldn’t be less interested. He just said it was a problem in my brain and not something he could treat.
So now what? Try another ENT? I could become the second opinion queen. Or go back to my neurologist, as my otolaryngologist suggested. SOMEONE has to know what this is and how to help.
I think I’ll do both. And I’ll see my GP on Monday and get another referral, and ask for some shots in my SI joints and L3/L4 vertebrae and see if they help my back pain. I’m lying here not really able to do much anyway. The pressure in my head is slowly abating. But I can’t get up yet. I still feel so very sleepy. It takes an hour at least for the symptoms to improve enough for me to get up and start moving. And moving is important. Just like everything else, I have to get up and move, and things do get better. It’s just so hard to get up and get going.
In the meantime, while lying here, I called Hearing Australia who performed the initial audiometry test, and also arrange the hearing aid prescriptions. Apparently I am most likely able to get one supplied free. That’s a plus. But when I called, the lady said ‘that’s strange, she hasn’t written up your report. She’s usually SO thorough. She usually writes a manuscript! Haha.’
The audiologist wasn’t interested in me either. I could tell that on the day, and it’s clear in the report she wrote, in which she said I was disinterested and felt my hearing loss wasn’t important. I never said anything of the sort. So she didn’t even bother to recommend an appropriate hearing aid, which is part of her job. Now I have to wait for them to get onto her, get her to finish her report, and then they will call me back.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. While my head is full of pressure and about to explode. I hate the sick head symptoms. I find them the worst. Worse than pain, because they are untreatable, and totally debilitating. I can’t get up, I can’t drive anyway, i just have to wait until it improves. So I’m going to have a little sleep now. I don’t have a choice. The vertigo and nausea will another hour to go away. And then I can stand up again. And get something constructive done. Until the vertigo becomes too much again and I’ll need to lie down again.