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Friday, February 12, 2010

Hearing Test

Yesterday I met with my ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon because my mornings continue to be difficult. I have resorted to using ice again. I have "pressure" headaches in the morning along with bouts of dizziness and ears which ring constantly. It's mostly the left ear, but sometimes the right ear will ring loudly as well. By "ring" I am generally referring to a high pitch, like a very high harmonic on a violin or a dog whistle. I have never experienced anything like this.

The composer Ligeti often uses high tone clusters which produce the sonic effect known as a "difference tone." Sometimes, my left ear will begin on one pitch and my right ear will join a micro-tone lower. I swear I can feel the third, ghost-like difference tone humming in the middle of my chest. I am a flesh-and-blood Ligeti composition, playing on endlessly. It can be fun, but I can't stop it. It is starting to drive me insane.

This is why I decided to visit with the ENT. He knows me personally and he knows my case because he performed the "outer" half of both my neurosurgeries. I wanted some basic hearing tests done because I have never been tested in my life. If I am losing my hearing that would explain a lot of the high pitches.

But I am not. My hearing is perfect. Not "normal," mind you. I mean seriously PERFECT. I aced every test without the slightest abnormality. This is great news about my hearing (and great news for my woodwind section). But it also means something else is causing the ringing.

My eyesight is perfect. My hearing is perfect. My pectoral muscles are getting there. But something still isn't right in my head and something still doesn't add up. So I went to the next step and called the office of my neurosurgeon. I have an MRI scheduled for March 1, but I wanted to see if I could move the date up.

I was told my surgeon is out of the country next week, so it was rescheduled for February 22. Specifically, I was informed my surgeon told the office he "doesn't want me to see my MRI and then have to wait a week to discuss the results." There are a lot of ways to interpret that, but I can understand. A week of wondering why the center of my scan looks like a drop of egg nog is probably not a good thing for my blood pressure. I can wait, I can wait, I can wait, and I can make jokes about it in the meantime.

Even though my mornings can be scary, if I rest all day I can still play my oboe in the evenings. This week we are in the opera pit playing Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci." In that story, a clown knows how to make others laugh but hides a torrent of emotions under all the funny makeup.

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