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Old 03-07-2012, 06:47 AM   #1
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Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Hello, I'm new here, and practically crying for information.

My stapedectomy was on the left ear February 27, so I'm 9 days post-op now. My hospital visit was similar to what many others report: Better hearing in the OR and recovery, but much diminished the next day, due to swelling I guess. I had pretty bad vertigo on the third morning along with some nausea, but the nausea is mostly gone. I had been having mild spells of vertigo but they weren't too bad -I could still walk- and I felt at least a little tipsy even in the best moments. I wasn't too worried because it seemed like what I should expect.

Yesterday (day 8) I drove for the first time and felt OK about it. We live in the mountains, so I had to go up and down in elevation several times. Nothing high enough that I would normally notice, but my operated ear did pop several times. It didn't hurt, just a muffled pop and the feeling of pressure release.

Before I go any further, I'd like to say that I started having worse vertigo the night before this driving and popping, it may be completely unrelated, but now I feel terrible. My arms feel like they have weights on them, and the main thing is I feel like I'm being pulled backwards and to the left. It's like I'm on a bungee cord and having to fight the pull wherever I go, and if I relax I'll be yanked over. Nausea isn't really a problem.

Yesterday I was having a lot of sound distortion too, like some sounds were coming through an old CB radio, only with bass to it. It's hard to describe: it had a hollow, otherwordly quality to it. It was sort of like a blown speaker that was underwater and in a barrel. Also, some people sounded unusually high-pitched, like they were part chipmunk or had been breathing helium.

And the tinnitus! I've always had it, but now sometimes my ear is SCREAMING. It's usually very high-pitched, and sometimes louder than others, but always there. I hear my heartbeat, too, but here's a funny thing: It seems to come in waves. I'll hear it loudly, then it tapers off and comes back in about 20 seconds or so. What's that all about?

My ear sometimes feels slightly damp inside like it's oozing, and this seems to coincide with the worst symptoms. I've been on a regular antibiotic since the surgery.

I'm seeing the doctor in an hour, but frankly I've found lots more info on this forum. I really hope someone can help me here. I promise to give an update when I get back from the doctor, as long as I'm well enough to type.

Thank you!

 
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:17 AM   #2
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Re: Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Fogbubble...

Anxious to hear what your Doctor has to say about your symptoms... I had my stapedectomy on Feb.17th almost 3 weeks post op... Will wait for your update

Fingers crossed that all is ok..
Cindy

 
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:27 PM   #3
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Re: Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Back from the doctor...

The nurse was sympathetic, and almost apologetic. I was getting more worried, but when the surgeon arrived he seemed to think everything was within a normal range of what to expect. Those web pages that say you can return to work in 3-4 days couldn't have been written by stapedectomy patients. I can't imagine. I felt better on days 3-5 than I did on day 9.

So he put me in the chair and tried to pull out some packing with the little forceps or whatever you call them. Strangely enough, I like the way that felt, like scratching an itch. As he jiggled some loose I had instantly better hearing, although still distorted. It felt like some pressure was released and I have to say I did feel a little better. The forceps couldn't get it all out so he had to use the little vacuum. Not much fun, but still the release of pressure and scratching of my itchy ear canal were worth it. Then I could hear much better. It sure had a strange, tinny quality to it, but still it was SOUND. Loud sound. He said there was still packing in there that would take some time to dissolve, and my hearing should gradually improve over the weeks. So I have high hopes for a real hearing improvement. Sounds are pretty strange now, and everything sounds like it's coming from a little speaker in my head, rather than out in the world. I can hear sounds much, much better than before, but I can't point to where they're coming from. I'm often startled when I think that a person is in another room, then I turn to find them right behind me. Hopefully my ability to locate sound will improve, too.

But back to the vertigo. I guess that's what you would call it -I don't feel so much that I'm moving as I'm about to fall. I have this sensation that I'm being pulled backwards by the head. It's really strong, like a giant rubber band or magnet, and my neck is tired and sore from holding my head where it should be. Has anyone else had that? A sore neck from vertigo?
The vertigo/backwards pull is intermittent. Thankfully I don't have to deal with it constantly because it's a real challenge. Seems to be worse when I'm tired and relieved somewhat by a nap. The doctor said it was caused by the prosthesis pushing slightly on my cochlea and he didn't seem too concerned about it. I forgot to ask how long he thought it would last, but he probably couldn't answer that anyway.

To summarize: My hearing improved instantly when some packing was removed. It's not perfect but definitely better than pre-op, and I expect it to get even better with time. Sound is still distorted and people talk like chipmunks, yet music has more bass. I cannot tell what direction sounds are coming from yet, and everything seems to be in my head.
The vertigo/unbalance is the hardest part and I really, REALLY hope it resolves soon. So far it isn't letting up at all and may be getting worse. Keep your fingers crossed, and I'll keep you posted.

 
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:13 AM   #4
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billcindy1 HB Userbillcindy1 HB Userbillcindy1 HB Userbillcindy1 HB Userbillcindy1 HB Userbillcindy1 HB User
Re: Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Fogbubble..

So happy to hear the news. I too had the same problem with the packing and my dr not able to pull it out with that little tool but using the suction to loosen it...WHAT A SOUND.thought a little jet airplane was going to be flying out of my ear at any time LOL... I had the same when he took out the packing with my sound...do you also have the donald duck yet..certain things I was hearing sounded just like that and unfortunately my daughters voice was one of them..when you 19 I guess it is not so much fun to have your mom say hey you sound just like donald duck when you talk...HA HA but now things are clearing up with that...I do have the occasional ouch that is way to loud and distorts...but I can tell you it will get better...this was almost 2 weeks for me since my packing was taking out and I notice ea day an improvement..my operated ear hears extremely well..so well..that I have a cotton ball in there...but I also work with children so they are alittle loud at times...I didn t have the vertigo like you have..but my last surgery on the other ear was worse with that...My balance and dizziness was always worse when I was tired...night time when I would walk people would think I was alittle under the weather....that cleared up for me but it did take some time. I found that not moving my head fast...bending over..stuff like that did help..if I felt dizzy I would try to focus on something until it was under control...not sure if that might help for me...

GOOD LUCk and pls keep me posted on how you are doing. My surgery was Feb 17th so I am alittle ahead of you...three week today post surgery...and each day things get better...you take it slow and don t do to much

CINDY

 
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:16 AM   #5
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Ashton11 HB User
Re: Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Good report Fogbubble,

I think it takes awhile for the brain to adjust to the signals it is getting, at least that is what it appeared to me. Hang in there and soon you will forget the healing part.

 
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:00 AM   #6
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Re: Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Hello Fogbubble!
Wondering how you are doing since stapedectomy 8+ months ago and how long it took for that "pulling" sensation to dissipate? I too can relate to that "pulling" and I am 13 days post-op, only my surgery was done on the right ear and the pulling is to the right. I was delighted to hear that your hearing has improved and wondering what your total outcome was.

 
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:02 AM   #7
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Re: Stapedectomy: tears, fears, and sound distortion

Hello Fogbubble!

Wondering how you are doing since stapedectomy 8+ months ago and how long it took for that "pulling" sensation to dissipate? I too can relate to that "pulling" and I am 13 days post-op, only my surgery was done on the right ear and the pulling is to the right. I was delighted to hear that your hearing has improved and wondering what your total outcome was?

 
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