My Annual Health Crisis

I think I’m on a health plan which dictates that every year I must suffer from a completely unexpected medical issue. Last year it was a neck injury which resulted in surgery; this year, it’s sudden hearing loss (SHL) in my left ear.

It all started on my first flight to Denver to meet the folks at NewsGator. I had a really bad cold, and when the flight ended I noticed that my left ear felt “clogged.” I figured it was just cold-related so I ignored it at first, but I started to get concerned when it didn’t resolve itself over the next week.

My first doctor said it was caused by fluid in the ear, and prescribed something to help clear it up. But over the next few weeks it didn’t get any better.

So last week I went to a specialist, and he discovered a pretty significant hearing loss in my left ear. I have trouble hearing higher frequencies, so it’s kind of like my own personal Dolby noise reduction system. Apparently, SHL isn’t uncommon, and many times the cause is viral.

Now I’m taking two different medicines, one of which makes me feel like I’ve drank three pots of coffee (great in the morning, not so great at night). The other is a drug commonly prescribed for herpes – a fact I wish I would’ve known before I picked up the prescription! My eyes bugged out when I saw the drug’s description in the printout that accompanied it (hey, how many guys do you know who would want a herpes drug on their shelves?). Of course I immediately called my doctor, asking what the deal was and whether there was something he forgot to tell me, but he said not to worry – the drug had several other uses (whew).

Side note: don’t you hate doctors who fail to tell you the side effects of the medicine they prescribe? One of the possible side effects of the first drug is that it “may cause vomiting that looks like coffee grounds.” Wow. You’d think they’d write that in big letters on the side of the pill bottle (“Warning: this medicine may have some really disgusting side effects. Wear old clothes before taking this prescription.”)

Anyway, now it’s just a “wait and see” and hope that the medicine clears up the problem. In the meantime, it’s not too bad having poor hearing in just one ear, but it is a little awkward. For example, whenever I talked with someone at Syndicate last month I’d have to turn my right ear towards them, which felt a little odd, like I was saying, “hello, do you like my right ear? isn’t it the sexy one?” to complete strangers.

I joked with a friend of mine about how I keep falling apart despite the fact that I have a healthy lifestyle. We figure that by the time I’m 80, I’ll basically be a brain in a jar with a wireless connection to my computer (what, you think I’m ever going to stop coding?). Hmmm…actually, some days I’m already like that, so perhaps old age will suit me just fine?

23 thoughts on “My Annual Health Crisis

  1. Welcome to my world. Every year between Halloween and Valentin’s day, I suffer from SHL caused by massive viral infections in my ears. It’s like clockwork. One doctor often jokes that I visit on the same week every year, a few days after Halloween. Cold weather and kids, I guess. It goes away when I take my annual March vacation in Florida. My doctors haven’t disagnosed any long-term hearing loss yet.
    I’ve found the best cure is lots of tissues and constant soft blowing of the nose. Also, plug your nose, tilt your head back and blow air thru your nose. This helps the liquid in your ear drain into your nose. Warning, don’t blow hard. Good luck!

  2. Hey Nick,
    Isn’t it great to be growing older?
    Hey a new idea for the funeral industry.
    Caskets with cellular and wireless connections…..just in case.

  3. A friend of mine got Chicken Pox, and had to be hospitalized. He was put on antiviral medication which is usually used for AIDS patients. At least one nurse got Chicken Pox from him because she thought that he had AIDS. (I’m not going to go into my ear problems. Sufficent to say that my ENT surgeon said that I needed surgery real soon, and he didn’t feel qualified to do it.)

  4. “I’ll basically be a brain in a jar with a wireless connection to my computer”
    So you’ll be like most of the celebrities in Futurama, then? :)
    Hope you get well soon Nick.

  5. I was initially embarrased when my dentist prescribed Valtrex for cold sores, but no more! The stuff rocks! Any sores that start are stopped in their tracks with little or no pain.

  6. Do you have allergies? I went through the same round of being scared and visiting doctors a few years back, also for a weird hearing problem. Being a musician, I was particularly scared about it. Turns out, it was that my allergies had changed how they affect me: rather than more sneezing, my ears (specifically, one of the tubes inside them) clog up when my allergies are particularly bad. Drinking a TON of non-caffeinated liquids to stay hydrated, and using Flonase for about a week solid does the trick for me.
    hth. :)

  7. Nick Bradbury

    Link: Nick Bradbury. We’ve seen that Chinese medicines not only work, but work without the unpleasant side effects of manufactured medicines. But, until funding for such research increases, we’ll have to continue using those manufactured medicines as p…

  8. Nick Bradbury

    Link: Nick Bradbury. We’ve seen that Chinese medicines not only work, but work without the unpleasant side effects of manufactured medicines. But, until funding for such research increases, we’ll have to continue using those manufactured medicines as p…

  9. Hi, I’ve had SHL for a couple of years now – its not nice, especially when it includes Tinitus, as mine does.
    The only positive side effect I’ve found is that when my partner snores and night I can simply put my bad ear up and sleep like a baby! :)
    Hope it works out well for you!

  10. Hey Nick. Sorry to hear about your illness. Reminds me of some stuff I’ve been through over the years. The thing I learned, which I will share with you just in case it is helpful. If you have worked yourself wacky and are still at it even though you are dreadfully ill, your best bet is just turn everything off and stay in bed for a week. I had to learn this the hard way, “dang near” killed myself a while back. Watch out for resting enough to start to feel better and then jumping back in too soon. That can get you.
    Anyhow, I’ll think about you getting better. Maybe if enough people focus on that your body will catch the drift, so-to-say.
    I wanted to comment on your May 11 but I missed the boat. I recall Proctor and Gamble changing their logo because a rw christian coallition boycotted them, wrote nasty-grams, etc. Foggy memory of mine but maybe late 1970’s early 1980’s. P&G used to have a 1/2 moon logo but apparently the crescent is a demonic icon. My personal opinion would be to give those nuts the full moon but on the other hand all lost sales are dollars lost.
    Take care,

  11. Depending on where you live, you will probably be told something different by doctors. In certain parts of the US, especially the North, those symptoms will generally be thought to be a cold or something else viral. In other areas, especially the South, those symptoms will generally be thought to be allergies. Usually, the doctors don’t even know for sure since they don’t even test for either one, they just assume.
    I have been having allergy problems like that for a couple of years now because of living in Austin, TX (allergy central). When one of my ears starts getting that way (eustachian tube isn’t draining properly), I start taking over-the-counter Mucinex (Guaifenesin). That stuff works like magic on it. Clears it up pretty quickly. Although you definitely shouldn’t take it on an empty stomach.

  12. Nick, Wish you all the best and a fast recovery.
    Your Health means a lot to Rss World and all the feeddemon hardcore fans!

  13. I feel your pain Nick. I have the same problems with my hearing. It hasn’t acted up recently, but I would on occation just loose hearing within one of my hears and it’ll clear up later down the road. Odly enough, it happened more often when I was living in Colorado! Guess due to the sudden climate changes and high altitude (I’ve always had constant noise bleed problems while living in CS/Denver, too).
    I was given meds as well, but I never took them.
    Things will get better…or you’ll just get use to the loss of hearing. ;)
    Say, have you looked into taking up learning Sign? Guess it’s best to start now while you can still hear!

  14. Hope you get better soon and recover for good! There was a documentary on drugs in the US and it seems the herpes medicine is really expensive both in the States as in Europe. Why is this I don’t know.

  15. Nick…I know you have poor vision in one eye due to an accident from long ago (see no evil). Now this ear thing (hear no evil)…..If for some reason next year half of your mouth shuts down at least you’ll know what’s up….LOL ;)


  17. A friend of mine suddenly lost hearing in one ear a little while back. He checked in to a hospital and they put him on all sorts of drugs, anti-inflammatories, oxygen, the works. His hearing started to come back after a couple of weeks, and is now fine. Hope yours makes a recovery, too.
    Good luck!

  18. Hi Brad,
    I had sudden hearing loss about 12 years ago on my right ear – but the bad news is – I didn’t hear anything on my left ear since birth. It caused me some attacks of cold sweat. But it recovered pretty well – and keeping aware of sublime stress and tension has prevented any repetition since then.
    Usually loosing high frequencies is said to recover more likely than deep frequencies. But this should occure in between a few days.
    So – I wonder wether there will be a CSS-hack for this problem.
    Best wishes for full recovering from your “sound-reduction-plugin” – and keep care of the rest of your ears ;-)

  19. I’ve had an ear infection since February this year and got diagnosed with acute deafness last week, so similar but here in the UK the healthcare leaves alot to be desired and I’ve ended up with four (4!) different types of antibiotic/anti-inflammatory/anti-sleeping pills!! I hope yours goes away real soon along with mine!

  20. Brain in a Jar

    “We figure that by the time I’m 80, I’ll basically be a brain in a jar with a wireless connection to my computer” (via Nick)
    – Great line. Feel better Nick….

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