IAmAn 19 year old girl who went deaf for two years due to degenerative joint disease - and can now hear again! AMA!
I had a lot of people in AskReddit asking me to do an AMA about my experience losing and regaining my hearing! Proof is coming, I'm just digging out my case file. (PS - That's definitely supposed to say IAmA sorry :s)
Here's my story!
Ever since I was a kid I've had a funny jaw thing; it started with an underbite, then a crossbite, then an open bite. Nobody was really sure what was happening, but it was attributed to growing. No big deal. Everything was peachy until about the 5th grade when I got an ear infection.
The infection cleared up with antibiotics... until I got another infection, and another and another and another. I was pretty much on a constant stream of antibiotics for about 6 months. My ears would ache and I started getting terrible headaches - they were so bad that sometimes I'd just put my head down and zone out. This tendency made it difficult for anyone to pinpoint just when the hearing loss began. A teacher eventually called home to tell my parents I was a daydreamer. While that's partially true ... I just couldn't hear!
Eventually, it got to the point where I was pretty well stone deaf. If you shrieked in my ear I'd potentially hear something, but likely not. My parents took me to an ENT who, for two years, said nothing was wrong and I would grow out of my deafness. I had weekly hearing tests for two years until we got fed up with the madness and sought a second opinion.
Within 10 minutes of my new ENT examining me, he concluded that I needed emergency surgery on my ear drums as they were at risk of bursting. It turns out that massive amounts of fluid from the infections had built up behind my ear drums, preventing them from vibrating... I was in surgery two days later at the age of ~13ish. They punctured my ear drums and inserted drainage tubes that stayed in for 5 years (for most people that get these inserted they stay in for ~6 months). I can now hear again!
In the last year we've discovered that my hearing loss is attributed to Degenerative Joint Disease in my condyles (jaw joints!) As it turns out my bone had been eroding to the point where my jaw joints were pinching off my eustatian tubes in my ears so that they couldn't drain the infected fluid.
My degenerative joint disease has led to other problems such as posture, breathing, etc. All in all my case is very rare as most people in my situation with DJD have excruciating pain whereas I do not... my aesthetic appearance is generally not affected and I'm pain free! I just got the short end of the stick being deaf and all.
EDIT I totally forgot about this, but if anyone is interested in my DJD you can visit my blog www.breakmyjaw.blog.com for blow-by-blow action. I haven't updated in about 2 months but it has details of my gum and bone graft on it.
Thanks for the kind thoughts and questions everyone, you're wonderful!