Annual Reality Check

Last week, I had an annual follow-up visit with my doctor in regard to my ongoing battle with / recovery from cholesteatoma.

The short version?

There’s nothing new. No change.

It was a routine visit. I met with my doctor, and he did a visual inspection of both ears. He noted my “normal” condition… slight eustachian tube dysfunction, causing a slight negative pressure on my surgically replaced eardrums that impairs hearing a bit. We talked about some odd noise I’m hearing in my right ear… apparently my new normal following my 2012 surgery. We couldn’t pinpoint why it was there.

And then… the standard battery of hearing tests, checking both the left and right ears.

Repeat these words after me.

Press the button when you hear the beep.

Now you’ll hear some static, press the button only when you hear the beep.

Let’s put on these other headphones, press the button when you hear the beep.

Honestly? It’s so routine by now, I almost feel I can predict the words they want me to say, and predict what tone to listen for.

But it’s still immensely frustrating.

You see, when you’ve had hearing difficulties for a long time like me, the hearing test is the part of the visit you almost dread.

It reveals the truth. Where your hearing truly stands.

So you focus as intently as possible to ensure you can repeat exactly what the audiologist says. Sigh as the ringing in your ears seems to drown out those faint beeps you’re straining to hear. Dread the review of results with your doctor.

Will they be worse this time? Will it reveal anything indicative of another cholesteatoma? Or maybe there’s hope… maybe the results will be slightly better this time.

And when truth is revealed… that nothing is different?

Well… I was immensely frustrated. That’s the only words I have to describe it.

I was irritated to an extent. Not because my hearing is holding steady… that’s a good thing.

But because the truth is still hard.

I can’t hear normally. No matter how desperately I want to.

It’s a reality check.

As I go about the day-to-day, I honestly believe I’m like everyone else on the planet. I don’t think twice about my hearing… I just take for granted what I have, just like everyone else. The fact that my hearing is not normal? That IS my normal. I rarely think about it.

But when you visit with a doctor who is there to help? To make sure I can keep what I have? To make sure my normal isn’t changing?

You still go through the tests that reveal how abnormal your “normal” is.

And it hurts.

For those of you with cholesteatoma or other hearing issues reading this?

You know what I’m talking about.

I don’t write this post asking for pity. I don’t write this complaining about the blessing of hearing that I DO have. Because my situation could be SO much worse.

My cholesteatoma left me with below normal hearing in the left ear, correctable with a hearing aid. Cholesteatoma in the right ear left me with a surgically repaired eardrum, but borderline normal hearing. Correctable with a hearing aid if it gets worse.

Bottom line, I’m blessed to have what I have. I’ve survived cholesteatoma with an ability to go about life normally, with a little assistance from technology.

And it’s a good thing.

But the emotions of the situation still hit from time to time.

And it still hurts.

So that’s what this post is about.

While it’s NOT healthy to dwell on what we don’t have… I don’t think it’s unhealthy to have emotions responding to the truth. That I’m slightly hearing impaired, and I would much rather NOT be.

My advice if you’re in my boat?

Let those moments be fleeting. Hang on to the blessings you DO have.

For more readings on my battle with cholesteatoma, check out these posts:

Also… if you want to connect with me and others battling cholesteatoma? Check out this Facebook page for “Cholesteatoma Survivors”.

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John Written by:

Husband, Daddy, Christ-follower, sports fan... pressing on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ. #ForeverRoyal!


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