Long time readers will know I've had issues with ear infections all my life, and they've only gotten worse in the past seven years. Eventually, when I hit a dozen inner ear infections in three years, my GP told me they could no longer treat me for them and sent me to an ENT. Even under an ENT's care, it took a while and a fair amount of testing to find the issue.
All evidence points to otosclerosis, a genetic inner ear issue known for a distinctive hearing loss pattern. There is a surgery that can be done, but since I'm only thirty-one, I'm told it's too risky since it can cause major damage the immune system.
|The girls helping me at the farmer's market back in July 2011.|
I'm in total agreement with this. I'd rather be healthy and hard of hearing than risk being sickly for the rest of my life.
The test came back showing a steep decline in my high and low range hearing. It's what's called an inverted bowl pattern. So, I can still hear fairly well, relatively speaking, but I am starting to have issues understanding people with deep or high voices. So basically, it's even chances I can understand anything an adult says without lipreading, and I'm not great at lipreading. And those chances drop to almost nil when I'm speaking with a child.
The ENT left me with the instructions to avoid salt and loud noises, and maybe I'll make it to sixty having only lost another ten decibels.
There's the problem. Salt I can avoid. I've been low sodium for years now. Loud noises though. I have no idea how I can avoid them.
First off, I'm the mother of two young children and a member of a large family. Even the most well behaved child gets loud on a regular basis when they're four and six. And gatherings, no matter how tame, get noisy when you have more than five or six people in a room.
Aside from that, although my internet sales have grown and continue to do so, craft shows, arts festivals, and science fiction conventions remain my bread and butter. Other than the farmer's market where I first started out selling via booth, shows are loud places by nature.
|Con Kasterborous June 2012 - Photo curtesy of Emma McCauley.|
What do you do when your work and health collide?
I suppose I could close my business and hide away at home where it's quiet, but I won't. I've gone down that road before, and it nearly drove me mad. No, I have to do something creative for my sanity's sake.
Well, wouldn't writing cover the creative bit?
It would, but I do like contributing something to the family finances. Writing may help eventually, but it's a slow process. Plus, I honestly love designing fragrances, the different soap designs, and now candle designs. Besides, after sometimes weeks on end in "mommy mode" 24/7, I need the break to remind myself how to be plain old Amanda again.
No, avoiding loud noises all together isn't going to happen. Besides, it's not like I've ever been one to crank the stereo all the way up or blast music through headphones. The "loud noise" I'm around, that I've ever been around, is just what comes with life.
|Hilltop Arts Festival Nov. 2012 - Photo curtesy of Preston Pylant|
What to do then?
Control what you can. Pray about what you can't.
It's a lesson life has taught me well the past few years. As much as we may want to, we can't control everything, but where it is lent us, we can do our best. In my case, this involves avoiding excess sodium, wearing silicon earplugs when possible in noisy places, practicing my lipreading, learning sign language, and teaching it to my girls.
It hasn't been long since we started studying sign language. Long time readers will know we at least attempted to use baby signing with the girls with little to no success. This time around though, I told them exactly what was going on with my hearing and explained how Hubby's family and their Aunt K use sign language. After that, Boo and Sneak have both set to learning how to sign with determination.
We're still in that early stage where most of what we can say is just random words, but it has already come in handy in places like libraries and church. Both girls recognize and sign "stop," "yes," "no," "please," "thank you," and "I love you."
When work and health collide, it can be so tempting to just throw in the towel on one or the other. Finding a balance between the two can be difficult, if not impossible, but it's always worth the look.