I first started suffering with hearing problems when I was a young child although I didn't realise myself at the time because it was all I knew. My parents realised there was a problem and I was admitted to Derby Children's hospital at the age of 7 to have grommets inserted into both ears. I also had my tonsils and adenoids taken out at the same time. At that age it wasn't a nice experience but what made it easier was that my older sister was in the next bed having the same treatment.
I remember how sore my throat was after the procedure, which made it difficult to talk and even harder to do one of my favourite things - eat. I remember being tempted with my favourite food egg custard but the soreness in my throat was overwhelming. Anyway, that was the tonsils. Having grommets seemed like a breeze. I can't remember any pain or discomfort whatsoever.
Even though having the grommets was pain free, it stopped me doing the things that other kids were doing. I wasn't allowed to go to school swimming lessons like other kids. I was always by the side of the pool watching. On holidays I had to be careful not to get my ears wet. I remember one holiday in Spain, I was made to wear a swimming hat in the pool to protect my ears. I must have looked a fool on a hot day wearing a bright blue hat on in the pool. I spent the whole two weeks in the pool so must have finished the holiday with some strange tan lines. These are things that I can chuckle at now but it just shows what an impact hearing problems had on me from a young age.
Fast forward about 30 years, into my adult life. I had embarked on a career where hearing was important. I won't go into details but not being able hear could be very dangerous. I had passed a hearing test several years prior to this as part of the application process and hadn't given my past hearing problems a second thought. Anyway, over time I began to notice that I was having problems hearing conversations in the office, which started to knock my confidence. I would shy away from conversation or would try and laugh at the right moments so that people wouldn't think I was being ignorant.
The time I realised that I needed to do something about it was when someone was standing to my right and I didn't know they were talking to me. It wasn't that I couldn't hear exact words - I didn't hear anything at all. My left ear was fine but my right ear was terribly impaired.
I went to see my GP who sent me for hearing tests and I eventually had my right ear syringed. The syringing process involved a liquid being injected into my ear canal and then a suction device to pull it back out again. I remember the nurse telling me that quite a lot of ear wax had come out and I was expecting great results, only to be disappointed.
I feared that I was going to be living with hearing problems for ever. I feared losing my job, being a recluse. I was descending into a very dark place, a place where I was choosing to work on my own to avoid people. A very lonely place.
A few months later I had an appointment with an ENT specialist. I feared they were going to tell me that I was stuck with these problems. The Doctor then told me something that would take me back to my childhood. 'You're only option is to have a grommet'. Several thoughts crossed my mind.......what will I look like in a blue swimming hat? What will my tans lines look like?
My only option was to have the grommet, so that's what I did. The results were life changing. I could hear again. I didn't have to avoid people or conversations. I could go to work with confidence again and last of all......I didn't have to wear a swimming hat on holiday, I just took a little more care......
Thanks for reading my first blog and feel free to share you own experiences in the comments section.