I never dreamed that cancer would take away part of my hearing. After having major surgery for bladder cancer in 2004, I thought my cancer struggle was over. Yet, after cancer was rediscovered in my lymph nodes in the latter part of 2005, the worst part of my journey was ahead....chemotherapy.
In March 2006, I began chemotherapy with Cisplatin and Gemzar for about twelve weeks. The Cisplatin was the harshest drug and caused the most side effects. Not only did I develop severe nausea (leading to dehydration and multiple hospitalizations), anemia, profound fatigue, kidney damage, and peripheral neuropathy, I also developed tinnitus (or ringing in my ears). This made me feel like I was hearing the sound of crickets in my ears at many times during the day. Later, and even more disturbing, this progressed to partial hearing loss. I noticed I could no longer hear the numbers "beep" on the microwave, the turn indicator or the "blinker" on my car became silent, and conversations on the telephone were more difficult. I couldn't hear my pager at work and had to change it to vibrator mode. When watching TV, it became imperative to use closed captioning to follow the dialogue.
I graciously finished chemotherapy in June 2006 but, unfortunately, the side effects remain, although the peripheral neuropathy has improved somewhat. Due to the persistent hearing loss, I was forced to purchase hearing aids in 2007 but they are of little help. I mainly wear them when I'm in a crowded venue, for example, going to a concert or a movie. They help some, but my hearing is still a major struggle. For example, my wife and I attended the broadway show, "Wicked", a couple of weeks ago. It was a great, great show. Although we sat in the balcony (I couldn't afford the prime seats), I should have been able to hear the dialogue....but I couldn't. I imagine I comprehended about five per cent of what was being said. My wife laughed frequently at the dialogue, but I never did...I couldn't hear it. So frustrating. It's also frustrating having people repeat what they are saying to me. Sometimes they have to practically yell so I'll comprehend the words. I feel so handicapped.
I'm meeting with my ENT doctor in about a month to discover if there are more options to restore my hearing. But for now, my world, in a discouraging way, is somewhat silent.
I write more about my struggles in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer" which is available on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Place-Didnt-Want-Go-Victory/dp/0983453624/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324565593&sr=1-1