Tympanoplasty Question

It’s a quote-post today, folks. Here’s me, writing about my Tympanoplasty (a surgery I went for in February, 2008), back in August:

At this juncture, I’m renaming the category of the blog that tells this story of my life from “ear surgery” to “tympanoplasty”. Hopefully, that’ll make it easier for Googlers to find my experience.

Looks like it worked. I got this question today via email, and with the permission of the person who sent it in, I’m reposting it, hoping that someone with the same concern in the future will feel better reading it.

Googler wrote:

Hey Richard,

I randomly came across your blog while I was looking for information about tympanoplasty online recently. I underwent tympanoplasty on my left eardrum 3 weeks ago. The size of my perforation was moderate, but was located in an accessible region of my eardrum and hadn’t caused too much hearing loss in my ear. It also happened fairly recently (in March) so I hadn’t lived with it long, but I knew I wanted to take care of it as soon as possible for reasons I’m sure you know of.

I have been a little stressed out lately, as my ear is still plugged from the surgery and everything is very muffled. My doctor swears that there is a lot of packing left to dissolve but for some reason I am worried. My ENT used the gelfoam dissolvable packing, therefore he will not be removing it manually. He also went through my ear to repair the hole therefore I only have a small incision from where they took the graft.

My hearing is much worse than before the surgery and it’s so annoying having an ear that feels completely plugged and muffles sound. I especially hate being in loud environments because I can hardly hear anything due to the muffling in the left ear.

I guess my question for you is, how long did it take for you to hear better again after the operation? I suppose your situation is a little different than mine since you had more hearing loss, but I am wondering when I am going to start getting my hearing back. My doctor says it can take 6 weeks to dissolve, but I am really stressing out about it.

There isn’t much chance of the surgery making the hearing worse that you know of is there? Anyways, I suppose I e-mailed you for a little piece of mind, to talk to someone who’s been through it.

Thanks!

Here’s my response:

Hey Googler!

It took me about four months to fully recover my hearing. At the beginning, I suffered immense discomfort, not only from the sore ear drum, but from the muffled sound, especially in loud environments, like you said. Only being able to hear from one ear threw off my sense of direction and placement in the world. I went through periods of intense worrying – “Will I ever hear again?” – because it took much longer than I thought it would to recover the sound. I’d wake up every morning, hoping that maybe I could snap my fingers and hear something today.

At first, I didn’t believe my surgeon when he told me that I had packing in my ear, still, after some time (two or three months). However, after more and more visits of him removing packing from my ear drum, and me taking drops in my ear to dissolve the packing, it got better.

I can’t assure you fully that everything is going to be okay – no one could assure me of that three weeks after my operation. I remember the fear I had; nothing could quell it. What I can tell you is to give it some time, and from my experience, you’re doing well.

I wish you the best of luck, and please keep in touch to let me know how you do. I’m glad you chose to email me. I put the information about my surgery online so that it could one day help someone, and it looks like it finally is.

Take care.

And finally, here response:

Thank you so much for replying so quickly! I feel like everything you said I have thought and felt these past few weeks.

You really helped my spirits! It is stressful bc I was not informed beforehand that it could take so long to get my hearing back.

Your blog was worth it! :)

Thanks a lot.

Googler

Again, I hope posting this here helps someone in the future. As always, feel free to email me any questions you have (about anything, really).

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