Friday, November 26, 2010

Hearing problems

I went to my doctor a couple weeks ago because of a problem that started at the beginning of this term: when singing with my choir, I inevitably get a static sound in my left ear.

It's happened occasionally in the past, but it's never stubbornly stuck with me week after week, let alone month after month, like it is now. It's the soprano range that triggers it (and FYI -- I sing soprano), though listening to a lone bagpipe without an earplug in my left ear also brings on the static. It's only in my left ear, though. My right ear is fine.

So, as I said, I went to my doctor after a couple months of this, since it wasn't going away on its own. She said there isn't anything she herself could do, but that I could go to audiology. In response I told her that my tentative self diagnosis was that I could maybe perhaps possibly have too much ear wax in my left ear, and that it could maybe perhaps possibly be causing the problem. She took a look, said that it didn't look like it was too much, but that the nurse could remove it for me if I liked. I said yes, I would like that.

Unfortunately, it didn't solve the problem, as I discovered a couple hours later when I went to choir. :(

But before I left, and even before the ear wax was (unnecessarily) removed, my doctor suggested another solution: using an earplug. I didn't like that idea, because an earplug would change how I sound to myself, which could be problematic in singing with my choir.

But after discovering that removing the ear wax from my ear didn't work, I decided that desperate measures were called for. I decided to try using an earplug.

I talked to my director and section leader about using an earplug. I wanted to get the director's permission, and I wanted to give my section leader a heads up. The director told me to do whatever I needed to do, and my section leader actually gave me a suggestion -- that I might want to view the earplug as an opportunity, rather than as a problem; that I could use this opportunity to work on singing by feel rather than by how I sound, since how I sound to myself would be distorted by the earplug.

With my section leader's advice in mind, I eagerly brought an earplug to the next choir rehearsal. When the static began to attack my ear, I used the earplug.

Unfortunately, the earplug plan backfired. Big time.

I expect that the earplug would work if I were just listening to a soprano, but it definitely does not work when I'm actually singing myself. As I realized belatedly, when I'm singing soprano, my own vocal chords are causing some of the problem. And when the problem is internal rather than external, the earplugs make it louder, just like they make my voice louder to my own hearing.

So the earplugs aren't going to work, unless I'm an audience member at a performance. If I'm actually on the stage performing, they're worse than useless to me.

So, I need to go to audiology, and see if they can help me.

On the upside, the static is only in my left ear. It isn't bothering my right ear. That's something to be thankful for.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I hope audiology can give you some answers, Sarita.

Sarita Rucker said...

So do I. More importantly, I hope it gives me solutions!

David said...

I'm sorry to hear that, Sarita...
I think it would be better for you to go to audiologist and I wish you can find the solutions.
Good luck Sarita...