As I sat on the examination table my general practitioner looked into my ears. I explained to him, “I am worried that I may have Sudden Hearing Loss and would like to have a referral to see an ENT today.”
“I’ve heard of sudden loss of eyesight but never sudden hearing loss. I’ll give you a steroid shot and some antibiotics, if it doesn’t clear up in a few days call us back.” He replied.
“No, that is unacceptable. I am not leaving without a referral.” I demanded.
I was wearing my “Wife. Mom. Boss” shirt that day which probably made me seem a bit over the top in this particular situation and I am not sure that he appreciated me being so blunt.
As he left the examination room my heart was racing. Was this nightmare really happening to me? When I woke up the morning before my right ear felt plugged. There was no pain but I could tell that I was definitely not hearing. It is amazing how not hearing changes EVERYTHING. When there was no change the next day I started to panic. My father has SSHL and I was aware the symptoms, which matched mine. I knew that I had to rule it out, just in case. I absolutely had to see an ENT but I needed a referral, which is the very reason I was sitting in this office. About ten minutes later a nurse came in with a steroid shot and said that they were processing a referral for me. Thank goodness.
Thus began my journey to recovering my hearing loss. And it was a good thing I did, because when I finally arrived to see an ENT around 5:00 that evening my hearing test showed that I was, in fact, not hearing out of my right ear. My doctor jumped into action and I was set on a course of steroids at an attempt to restore my hearing. About ten days later, to my relief, it had worked. Two weeks later my hearing was tested again and I showed only a small loss. I was left with Tinnitus, some dizzy spells, and the jitters. I am scared it may happen again and I certainly do not want this to happen to anyone else. Going through those two weeks awakened something inside of me. I was definitely thrown for a loop and my entire life was turned upside down. I became angry that people suffer from this and are often misdiagnosed, leaving permanent hearing loss.
I thought about how if I had to tell my own general practitioner what SSHL was that this must be happening to other people too. “Something has to be done”, I thought, so I made this flier and posted it on Instagram with the hashtag #suddenhearinglossawareness.
Before I knew it there were a few people who saw my post and reached out. They were going through the same exact thing. We began chatting and became friends who offered support to one another at a crucial time of change and need in our lives.
I decided we need a bigger forum so I formed a Face Book support group. It can be found here: Sudden Hearing Loss Support Group on FB. The goal is to offer friendship and support to those who have SSHL. With the help of my father I will build a website that will have information on SSHL for members. I would like to design a few shirts that can be worn for awareness and with the proceeds will start a fund for this group. I think it would be fun in the future to have a yearly meet and greet and another member suggested a 5K run.
I know that this group can be life changing for all of us with SSHL. My hope is that it will be a positive and happy place for us to go and share our personal stories. Our lives were already changed and turned upside down with the diagnosis. It’s time to pick up the pieces and move forward with determination that all will be okay, that God has a purpose for us, and that perhaps a portion of this purpose is that we are meant to spread awareness of SSHL. If starting this group can bring awareness and save even one person from permanent hearing loss then it will have been worth my time.
I look forward to one day personally meeting all those who join me in this endeavour.