One of the symptoms of MS that has really bothered me lately is hearing loss. Per the MS website: “Hearing loss is usually associated with other symptoms that suggest damage to the brainstem - the part of the nervous system that contains the nerves that help to control vision, hearing, balance, and equilibrium. Hearing deficits caused by MS are thought to be due to inflammation and/or scarring around the eighth cranial nerve (the auditory nerve) as it enters the brainstem, although plaques at other sites along the auditory pathways could also contribute to hearing problems. Plaques are abnormal areas that develop on nerves whose myelin-- the fatty sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers--has been destroyed. Plaques cause the nerve impulses to be slowed or halted, producing the symptoms of MS.” Not very understandable, but meaning that MS can cause hearing loss due to the damage to the nervous system that controls our senses. (I often wonder why explanations can’t be just straight-forward and not rambling all around with words the average person doesn’t understand!)
I have noticed lately that my hearing is becoming more and more damaged. I often find myself cocking my head to try and pick up more of the sound waves that are coming from the direction of something I want to hear. I am not sure that it helps much because I still have trouble hearing what I want to hear. It is very irritating.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my husband does not hear well at all. He is constantly asking me “what did they say?”. I am beginning to not be able to answer him. I have tried to get him to go to the doctor and get his hearing tested to see if something can be done for him. He keeps putting it off. I don’t think I will be like that. I am going to talk with my neurologist in July to see if there is something that can help with my hearing loss. It bothers me too much not to get it checked.
I am not pessimistic with this problem, but I do fear that it will be one of those things that I just have to learn to deal with. As with speech and vision, MS often damages these and nothing can be done about it. I have periods of time when I do not talk very well and worry that it will stay that way. Fortunately, so far, it comes back to normal after a while. One day it may not. I will deal with that problem if/when it happens.
I do not mind at all being fitted for a hearing aid if that will help the problem. I have talked with a lot of people over the years that balk at this. They always say that it is unattractive and only for “old people”. If it means the difference between hearing and not hearing, I do not care if it is the ugliest thing on earth. I had rather hear than not hear. As for being for old people, that no longer bothers me either. Everyone that is blessed enough to get older learns that things that we taboo when we were young is a necessity as we age. Since MS often greatly speeds up these problems, age has become a moot discussion.
We live in a world obsessed with looking young, being thin and being active. MS takes away a lot of these options. Most of us with MS are not all that active and our diet consists of things that we are able to consume without interfering with our meds. As far as looking young, this becomes the least of our worries………………trying to keep as much in the game of life as possible becomes our number one priority. Looking young is WAY down the list, if it is still on it.
My husband and a friend of ours started losing their hearing on a parallel course. Both spent most of their time saying “huh” and asking for the conversation to be repeated. Our friend had his hearing checked and was told that the problem he has cannot be fixed. I think that Howard might be afraid that this would be the answer he would get also. I do hope that he will one day get it tested to see if help is available.
Until something can be done for us, I guess we will just go along with hearing less and less of what goes on in our day. There will be a lot of “huhs” in our routine. I wonder how hard sign language is to learn………….. J