home, one week later

I’ve been back in Boulder for a week now, recovering from my ear surgery two weeks ago. I can’t believe it’s been two weeks already, but I’ve made lots of progress.

My hearing is starting to come back a little bit in the left ear. I’d say it’s at about 10% right now, but a week ago it was at 0%. I can’ t understand conversations, but I can hear people’s voices in that ear when they’re talking at normal levels. The sounds are all kinda quiet and “squeaky” though. Even stranger, the audio is interpreted by my brain as being slightly delayed and out of pitch compared to the right ear. That makes listening to music a bit less than delightful, and someone when Beth’s talking to me I turn so my good (right) ear is pointed at her so I don’t have as much of this double signal problem.

Speaking of hearing, it seems like the extreme loudness of my voice buzzing in my ear (autophony) has gotten better over the past week or so. Maybe I’m just getting used to it, but I do think it’s decreasing a bit. Also, the ringing sound has gotten quieter than it was right after surgery. That said, it’s still there 24/7. Last night I was feeling irrationally grumpy about it; after a full day of this loud non-stop ringing, I just wish it would stop.

The surgical wound continues to heal up. A week ago it started scabbing over, and Beth has been putting antibiotic ointment on it once a day, which is supposed to reduce the scarring I’ll ultimately have. Since then, some of the bits of scab have come off, which I guess is nice.

I’ve also finished nearly all of the post-surgery medicine. The first couple days after surgery I think I was taking about 7 or 8 different things. Over the past week that dropped to 3 and then to 1 and now to 0. I don’t even have to have antibiotic drops in my ears anymore. The only special thing right now is that I have to put a vaseline-covered cotton ball in my left ear while I’m taking a shower, to prevent water from getting in the ear canal.

My dizziness has been pretty low, which is nice. I’ve also been able to get out most days for a walk. It’s funny. I’ll walk for a while feeling just fine and then all of a sudden I’ll just get really, really tired. I guess my brain is working harder than I realize, reprogramming how it handles balance input. And then at some point, it’s just all out of energy. That has happened to me walking to the park, putting dishes away from the dishwasher, and walking at a nearby birding area.

This is the main reason I don’t feel like I’m ready to return to work yet. I don’t want to get most of the way through the work day, and then suddenly have my brain run out of steam. I wouldn’t feel safe driving in that state, and wouldn’t be comfortable taking the bus, and wouldn’t want to wait for someone (Beth, almost certainly) to come pick me up from the office and take me home.

So I’m definitely not going back to work next week, which is kinda too bad because I had imagined resuming work the day before Thanksgiving so I could get paid for Thanksgiving and the day after. Instead, I’ll continue to be on unpaid medical leave. Maybe I’ll be more ready to return the week after.


By the way, thanks for reading. If any of this has been helpful or amusing, please leave me a note in the comments section.

If you haven’t read the rest of the story of my ear surgery and recovery but you want to, I’ve categorized all the blog posts with the category “Ears” so you can go right here to find them all. Look at the dates, because if you go back in time too far, you’ll find posts related to my first ear surgery over four years ago.


3 thoughts on “home, one week later

  1. Beth Partin

    Thanks for explaining how you get tired so suddenly. You would seem to be doing fine and then say, “I want to go now.”

    It does seem to be more of a strain for you to walk on uneven ground, as we did at Walden Ponds.

  2. Mark Powers

    Hey Todd, thanks for posting your journey. I am registered on the SCDS.org site, but find a bit easier to send you a comment on your site if ur still reviewing it.
    Well, I just finished my 2nd middle fossa approach to my SCDS on my right side done up at Mayo in Rochester with Drs Beatty and Link a week ago yesterday and am home recovering. I had my first surgery on my left side in 2008 and it was successful with a 3 month recovery. I guess 6 yrs has made a difference in how this 2nd surgery has kicked my butt!
    I am having the typical autophony on right ear with little hearing on the right ear, buzzing and up until 2 days ago hearing my heart rate/pulse in my ear. I am able to walk around the house for short periods before I have to sit down or lay down. I can now open my jaw the approximate 2 finger width to eat and my appetite is okay.
    This morning however I woke up got out of bed and had severe dizziness with a sense that with my pulse, my eyes felt like they shifted up and down, although my wife looked at my eyes and said they weren’t shifting up and down. What’s really strange is that if I cough or clear my throat, that eye shifting/momentary disequilibrium jumps into high gear while I’m coughing. That’s new vs the last few days and don’t remember this from previous craniotomy in 2008?
    I have to keep telling myself to be patient given its only a week post-op, but if you have any words of wisdom/experience it would be helpful for me. It’s kinda scary going through this again and just need reassurance these symptoms are “normal”. The folks up at Mayo keep encouraging me to get up every half hour and just walk around to reset my vestibular system, but that is challenging since I’m so fatigued and dizzy. Anything you can share or direct me to on the SCDS forum would also be appreciated. Thanks!Mark


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