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“This is Hard. Keep Going. I Love You.”

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This past May, a strange pain developed in my jaw. Not quite like swelling, it is more sharp, more violent than that. I waited patiently in hopes that the pain might dissolve, go away. It did not. In fact, the pain not only grew… it bloomed.

Up the side of my head & into my ear. One day, it became so blinding I was sure my ear drum had burst & sought help at St. Thomas fearful of the damage. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong. Couldn’t figure it out. There were no visible signs of stress and my eardrum remained intact.

… My hearing, however, was not.

Now, after a summer of being opened up, prodded, scanned & biopsied, I’ve been diagnosed with conductive hearing loss, & have lost a significant amount of hearing in my right ear. The bones which conduct sound are calcifying. Most mid-range sound is mumbled, very faint, or almost inaudible. The pain in my jaw is often so bright I cannot chew foods basic to my daily diet like raw spinach or tortillas. There have been many frustrating days.

The truth is, doctors still don’t know what caused this hearing loss, or if it is even related to my jaw pain. What they do know is that the loss is degenerative & permanent. What’s gone is gone and there is no going back.

But I am determined to trust the process. I will not be held back.

I am determined to allow myself (and my doctors) time to figure out what this invisible illness is all about. How to slow it down. What miracles might be out there to heal it. How can I feel normal again? I’m taking the steps I need to heal myself, and I can finally see it working. I go to acupuncture twice a week. I see an herbalist to learn what might alleviate the pain naturally, so I don’t have to take medication. I’m working with an incredible team of audiologists here in Nashville, and I’m in the process of getting myself into an experimental health study to see the effects stress has on physical health (as they suspect this is where it all the trouble stems from).

When all this began, I wrote this note to myself as a reminder to my body that it is not alone. We are in this together. (I am here. I am here. I am still right here.) I will keep on my path towards healing. I will be patient with myself. I will keep searching for the understanding of what comes next.