When I was born, like all newborns, I had a hearing test. It was established I had a small amount of hearing loss (less than 20%), my parents were told that there was not an issue and I would be able to carry out a normal life.
This so-called normal life was not to happen sadly. Apparently my Mum started having proper contractions when she was about 30 weeks pregnant and said contractions were stopped using medication, I was born on the due date and whilst giving birth my Mum had a heart attack. I was a sickly baby, always picking up infections left; right and centre. By the time I was 18 months old I’d had German Measles and Mumps, not to mention the colds and coughs I seemed to have persistently. The medics put this all down to the medication I had been on prior to birth as well as the fact I probably did not have a fully formed immune system.
Just after my 2nd birthday I became very poorly. I had a sore neck; sore throat; cough; runny nose; light sensitivity and other symptoms. My mum took me to the Station Medical Officer who simply said it was the flu and I would be fine in a couple of days. Being over cautious my Mum took me to A&E at the local hospital where the doctors were about to say the same thing when they noticed I had a rash enveloping my body. Tests were done, and just in time by any accounts because the rash was getting worse. I had meningitis. My obs (blood pressure etc) were deteriorating so much that I was rushed into Intensive Care Unit under isolation and sedation, IV antibiotics pumped into me. They had hoped my condition would improve but it was noticed parts of my feet were becoming blackened, I had septicaemia. The antibiotics were changed and my condition improved slowly but surely, with me being resuscitated twice in front of my Mother. Whilst all this was going on my Dad was trying to get back from the Falklands and back then the Armed Forces were not necessarily compassionate when it came to children being ill, he was denied compassionate leave because I was not ‘on a slab and you are due home in less than 7 weeks.’ In time I was moved to the children’s ward whilst they did checks on me by doing head scans etc. As it was so soon after the meningitis nothing major was really noticed.
Six months later they did the tests again, including hearing tests. Brain scans revealed that I had some brain damage. The section of brain that deals with short-term memory loss was 75% destroyed and the section dealing with my hearing was also damaged, nobody could say whether this would be permanent.
Over the years my hearing loss got a little worse, I continued to have chronic ear infections along with glue-ear. I needed 23 (checked with my Mum earlier today) grommet operations, grommets are little vents for your ears and are recommended for people with waxy ears etc.
School was tough, I found it harder to hear what the teachers were saying and often felt embarrassed to ask them to repeat what they had said missing out on instructions. I could not join in on the class swimming lessons because I could not get water in my ears. My peers were often cruel in their taunts. One girl, Janine, told me to eat this mushroom. 2 hours later I was having my stomach pumped because it was in fact a poisonous toadstool. The bullying got worse as I got older.
My Year 6 teacher suggested to my parents that they see if I can get statemented as a Special Needs pupil, if it was not for the teacher helping them fight for it I would never have had the statement done. It was established having hearing aids would help so the process was started and 4 months later I started wearing hearing aids. The bullying, again, worsened when I started wearing hearing aids and when one of the bullies saw my statement (well part of it anyway). They taunted me about having an IQ over 155. Kids can be really nasty at times that is for sure.
At 18 I had my grommets removed for what was hopefully the last time as well as having my ears hoovered (ie microsuction). I was told, after a hearing test 6 weeks after operation, that my hearing had restored to levels I had when I was born. This then meant a further head scan, it showed that part of the brain had pretty much healed itself which is fantastic. I was so happy, it meant I did not need to wear hearing aids anymore. I was informed I was still not allowed to use ear drops; get water in my ear/or up nose; stick cotton buds in my ear or have my ears syringed. If my ears were to block or need cleaning again I would need to have my ears microsuctioned under general anaesthetic due to the fragile state of my ear drum as well as the sensitive state of my ear canals.
From time to time my ears have blocked up but then very quickly sorted themselves out within a matter of minutes. I have been lucky to not have had an ear infection in over a decade. However, 2 days ago I woke with a blocked ear and I waited anxiously to see whether it would clear itself. Unfortunately it did not so last night I sought medical advice at the Out of Hours GP service at the local hospital. I was told I was to see my own GP and to get him/her to refer me to the Ear, Nose and Throat department as a matter of urgency as my ear was clogged.
Today I called the surgery and booked an appointment for this afternoon. Upon my name being called I realised it was a locum GP. He looked in my ears and could see that one was compacted with wax and the other was starting to ‘fill up’. Despite the fact I explained why I could not have oral antibiotics; olive oil; ear drops or syringed he offered all options. When I explained about the fact I could not have any of it he then said I must use olive oil. He then said someone would need to review the situation next Wednesday and then, and only then, would he suggest I am referred to the ENT clinic on a standard referral. If someone is referred on a standard referral it usually means a couple of months wait. Me being me I am not happy with this at all, it is appalling medical care to leave someone with my history for that long with a blocked ear and not be able to hear anything.
I am, therefore, off up to Accident and Emergency tomorrow morning in the hope they can help me. If the other ear gets worse I shall be using sign language! I will, of course, update where possible with regards to the situation but I hope this goes some way to explaining why I am so frustrated.
Take care and keep well dear reader xxxxxxxx