Sunday, January 08, 2012

Partially Deaf In Depth

For the last three months or so, I've struggled with a nasty concoction of recurring bronchitis, two asthma attacks, super resistant ear infections and cracked ribs from a machine gun body mantra of coughing fits.

I have improved for the most part. Except for my ears. As of right this minute, my hearing is at least 50 percent gone. For someone whose life nucleus is music and the appreciation or evisceration thereof, this puts a huge auditory damper on my day to day. Yeah, I can't hear shit. Which is good if what I'm listening to clearly contains some sort of half thought out sonic feces, but really horrid if its solid gold sound.

I have had a lifetime of hearing problems. You see, my Eustachian Tubes are deformed. For those of you saying, huh?, well, you've got them too, but yours most likely function properly, so that every time you swim, shower, congest, sneeze or produce something waxy, your eustacian tubes drain that foreign matter right down the back of your throat for proper expulsion ,like good internal plumbing should. Mine are closed tight, backed up like a toilet in the ladies room at a Britney Spears show. So, I have years old fluid, wax, scar tissue, first drafts of bad reviews, pixie dust, and well fed ear mites just chillin' back there. As a child with chronic ear infections, the standard procedure to alleviate these non stop symptoms was to to do a myringotomy, which is basically shove a tiny tube into the ear drums that assists with ventilation and drainage. LONG STORY SHORT, I had many of those damn myringotomies (,7x by age 12) have had my eardrums replaced twice, because the holes left would not close. The eardrums are new, but the drainage problem ain't going away. And my recent health issues have made it worse than ever.

  Next week, with the assistance of some very temporary Medicaid, I'm getting another adult myringotomy done, more little tubes to help with drainage.Unfortunately, this was an inconclusive option given to me by kind Dr. Wilcox, whom after reviewing my prior medical history, told me that this may or may not work. It may be scar tissue and not old fluid, hard wax and other foreign entities that reside behind my fucked up eardrums, in which case, my only other option is equivalent to a total restoration of that favorite room you lay around in, gut it and start over.  The problem with that is clear. A much longer recovery, without any chance of going to whatever job I may have. And with this Medicaid, drugs are not covered. Yes, believe what I say. I can get either operation, but I can't get the painkillers to go with it.  

I have come to the conclusion, that I may have limited auditory function for the rest of my life. Dr. Wilcox was very matter of fact, backing up his inquiry into my condition with a disclaimer that there is no cure or operation to "replace eustacian tubes", and that I was a "very difficult case". 

I have lived this long with a moderate 30% loss of hearing in my right ear and 20% in my left ear. It has come in handy at times in my life. I never really needed ear plugs at Judas Priest shows, never once had a case of tinnitus(ringing) and it was  a built in bullshit meter and filter for many unwanted conversations.

This moderate loss has been a hindrance as a performer and singer as my monitors always had to be jacked up so loud that the guitarists didn't even need me included in their stage mixes. And the few times I used in ear monitors, I was lost in the cacophony of instruments.

But this may change everything. I really cannot hear right now. Everything sounds like a whisper or a dull thud. The treble and some midrange in my life is gone. I have recently been digitally converting some of my favorite albums from 128 kbps to 320kbps to see if it may make a difference, and it really has not.

This morning I converted Crosby Stills and Nash's debut album from 1969. One of my favorite songs from CSN is "You Don't Have to Cry".  On a weird side note, I never knew until today that this was the very first song they sang together in Joni Mitchell's Laurel Canyon living room. Graham Nash was looking in on an a Stills Crosby sing- a- long , he heard a run through of this song(written by Stills and about Joni) and asked if he could join in with a high harmony. The rest is history.  And I'll still have history, and most likely will have to rely on audio memory. I couldnt tell the difference between the 128 and 320 bit versions, and both of them ended up sounding like I was not sitting cross legged with my poncho on in that living room basquing in some hashish drenched  acoustic bliss but rather hearing it underwater from the shallow end of Joni's pool.

Maybe this operation will act as some serious Drano for my ears.

Maybe I will have to get used to being more than partially deaf in depth.


  1. Oh Sean, this is very upsetting. Let's stay positive and have hope for the operation. IF it doesn't work, then you can deal with that. I really believe that positive or negative energy affects certain outcomes. I know for you, losing your hearing (or part of it) is probably less desirable than losing a limb :( Shit.

  2. You will get that surgery and come out of it with much improved hearing. As Barb said, focus on a positive outcome, as tough as it may be right now. Sending good vibes your way, sir.

  3. Thinking positive thoughts Seano. Hang in there Buddy!

  4. Sending thoughts and prayers your way that this works out for the better.

  5. Wow, now besides a love of great music, we have something else in common. I too have bad ears, although my problem is different in that I have twisted ear canals and a congenital defect which cause tinnitus. This hasn't been helped by the fact I've played in loud rock bands for many years.

    Late last year, I bit the bullet and got some hearing aides. This was a huge event, even life-changing. The day after I got them, Mine and YourZ truly went to see the cinema release of Nirvana Live at the Paramount. I heard everything, all the highs, all the mids and the lows. Then we went to a crowded cocktail bar and had a conversation over a few Sazeracs and beer chasers. I heard every word. And it has only gotten since.

    I do hope your ear problems get sorted out, mate. And believe me, I do know what you're going through. From one music-lover to another, I sincerely hope things improve for you in 2012.


  6. Ah, my ears might be better but my editing skills are still shit! The last two sentences of the second paragraph should read 'I heard every word. And it has only gotten better since."


  7. As a person also with hearing loss, I feel for you, bro. My issue is hereditary combined with years of factory work and loud rock n' roll. My answer was hearing aids. Have been wearing them for about 10 years or so. Even though they are about a grand apiece, they make a world of difference to my ears. Couldn't live without them...

    Whatever you may do, I hope it all works out for you.

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