On October 4, nearly three weeks ago, I noticed an echo in my left ear. Middle to high-frequency sounds seemed to be arriving a millisecond or so late in my left ear, in normal time to the right. My brain, not used to such a delay, interpreted it as an echo.
Over the course of the next few days, it only got worse. By Monday, I decided to make a trip to the walk-in service at our local healthcare clinic. The nurse practitioner there examined me and proclaimed that I must have fluid buildup in my Eustachian tube and that I should take antihistamine for a week to clear it up. After a week, I was to follow up with ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor if the problem remained.
Here I sit on October 23, and the problem ebbs and flows, but remains persistent. In situations with a lot of ambient noise — restaurants, stores, large meetings — I’m having to concentrate fully on the speaker in order to piece together an understandable cipher through the cacophony. I’ve tried to describe the garbled confusion picked up by my left ear, but the photo above is a better substitute for words. I can hear the pitch and pattern, but the details remain out of reach.
Why haven’t I made an appointment with ENT? I could blame a busy schedule, but it’s probably because I’m a guy. Most of us would rather limp along in life than admit our frailties. Our attempts at ignoring our weaknesses out of existence are legendary and — honestly — just plain stupid.
The tough guy in me says, “Ahhhhrgh, it’s probably just allergies and will go away with time.” But I’m going to ignore him and make a phone call to ENT tomorrow. Why? Because the unknown is starting to scare me just a little, and life is better when you aren’t running from the truth.