Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Holla if Ya Hear Me

     It is a fact of life that as we age, our body betrays us.  We need glasses to read after a life of 20/20 vision.  Our memory refuses to recall the name of a street or a childhood pet.  We recognize that we can't hear as well as we used to.  In fact, even a teenager typically has a broader hearing range than an adult, assuming the former hasn't destroyed his or her ear drums by constantly keeping Taylor Swift or Nicki Minaj turned up to 11.  In the case of CFers, some of the maintenance medicine can prematurely damage our hearing in two ways-- tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, and the loss of hearing (often in a particular range).  The only time I experienced ringing in my ears was immediately after the transplant when I was first put on the new regimen of meds and the doctors were striking the right balance and levels.  But for roughly the past five years, I have been dealing with high pitch hearing loss.
     No matter how many times it happens, it always seems strange to me when my inability to hear certain tones reminds me that reality is not objective.  This occurs most often when my insulin delivery system beeps to remind me that my pump's levels are low, and only my wife and son hear it.  There are rare times where I can hear it, but almost always, I need to be told about it.  Because I could go for quite a while and never realize that this incessant noise is emanating from me, I always told my students about this issue.  I explained that taking Zithromax three times a week for several years had caused me to lose the ability to hear high pitches.  (The FDA has no direct evidence that Tobi can cause hearing loss, so even though I did that twice a day for for fourteen years, I doubt it had any affect on my present condition.)  I even told students that there are ringtones available designed to be too high pitched for any adult to hear, so such a thing would certainly work on me.  Maybe if they knew I knew those existed, they wouldn't try to pull a fast one on me.  The year I had a student teacher, she and I would often be talking or working in silence (or so I thought) and she would say, "You're beeping."  In such moments, I remembered that the inconveniences to me and those in my proximity were worth the benefits.  Zithromax may have messed up my hearing, but my lung function was certainly better off because of it.

     When I stopped taking Zithromax after the transplant, I wondered if I would gradually gain back my ability to hear high pitched tones.  I wasn't counting on it, but was hopeful.  Then, last night, my wife and I watched a rerun of a show we both enjoy.  The opening credits of the program always have a high pitched "ding" at the very end, and though we hadn't watched an episode in year or so, we knew to expect it.  Theme songs are designed to get in your head that way.  But, for me, the ding was absent, and I asked her about it... maybe for some reason they'd changed the opening once the show went into syndication?  Nope.  Somehow, my hearing range seems to have shrunk.  Since I look in the mirror and still see a young face, despite a noticeable increase in grey hair, I choose to blame my decreasing auditory prowess on the new transplant medicine.  I've long since quit trying to keep up with every possible side effect the fifteen different drugs I take each day can have, and besides, it's easier to blame the problem on that than getting old.

     The irony, of course, is that I'm looking forward to all the symptoms of advanced age.  I will count the day I get bifocals as an achievement.  I plan to celebrate when my aged mind won't bring back the name of my elementary school.  And I can't wait until my ears, long since helped along by hearing aids, start to grow that white old man hair out of them.  I will call them my Victory Hairs, and they will be on full display as I yell "Get off my lawn!" at the kids in my neighborhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment