Saturday, January 14, 2012

My New Vocabulary Word -- Cholesteatoma

Unfortunately, I learned a new word yesterday... cholesteatoma. I really didn't like wikipedia's initial definition, "destructive and expanding growth" but overall I'm hoping it's not that bad.  Read on to see what I have...

After several months waiting to see a specialist, I finally got in to see an ENT.  I have a long history of ear infections which started for me around the age of five. I wear hearing aids in both ears as a result of severe ear infections and various problems (bones being eaten away) as a child/youth. In the past couple of years, I've had about four different doctors look into my ears. They all have had much the same reaction... "Oh my!" "Goodness that looks awful."  "I see lots of drainage." and then... "but it's not infected." The past six months the drainage, itching, swelling and general discomfort (including random flashes of ear pain that shoot by, but pass quickly.) has been at times horrendous, mostly tolerable.   I took it all in as the new norm having moved from a dry climate back to the humid climate of my youth. The specialist yesterday listened carefully to me spout out my long history of infections, surgeries, and my most recent symptoms. Then he looked into my ears and told me they both are indeed infected -- and that my one ear has a growth behind the ear drum (cholesteatoma). He said I need surgery as it is (in his words) "potentially quite dangerous." They'll go in behind my ear, remove the bone that runs parallel to my ear canal and then remove the growth.  (If I were to leave it be it can cause facial paralysis, deafness, even brain problems.)  So obviously surgery is a happy option, but I'm pretty bummed to have to fit in all the things necessary to get me better (CAT scan, other appointments, surgery, recovery).  One outcome of all this is that I could lose some of the hearing in this ear (which is my "good ear").  Today I feel fine with it all, but I sure was teary yesterday (the surgery 30 years ago on my other ear was very painful), but I'm hopeful that it's more routine and pain-free these many years later.

Meanwhile, this past week was a busy one. We started back into our school routine, returned to our regular sports and music activities, started a new one (DD added in Irish dance lessons which she loved, loved, loved!) and did some make-up gymnastics classes from when we were out of town.  It was busy, busy!  I'll be writing up a couple of school-related posts in the next day or so.

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