Motorhead lead by the estimable Lemmy claim to be the loudest Rock band on the planet with gigs registering in the 130 decibel mark. Although there is some debate about this . There's no doubting leaving a gig like that many will experience temporary hearing loss or tinnitus. These last few weeks it feels like I've gone to 50 Motorhead gigs in a row, and my hearing is shot.
The reason I've hearing problems is not by going to too many gigs but a drug given as part of my Chemotherapy treatment. It's an anti-viral called Amikacin . As an ant-viral it's great but it's caused some pretty devastating side effects.
I went to the Royal London on Monday afternoon to the the specialists at the Audiology centre. There I spent half an hour having what's called a 'Bleep Test' where you wear headphones and different tones are sent to you to respond to by pushing a button. Fair to say I performed terribly on the test. The picture above is the results. Low frequencies are on the left and higher frequencies are to the right of the graph. My top end has completely gone. I have permanent hearing loss. The specialist advised that I get a referral from my doctors to get fitted for hearing aids. I'm 40 years old, I really don't want to be wearing hearing aids. After my surgery in February damaged my voice box, I'm now walking around sounding like a half-deaf Marge Simpson.
Day to day it means some changes to how I live. I instinctively hit the subtitles button when I watch TV now. I wouldn't want to miss any pun on GBBO. On infrequent visits to the pub I'm checking if the place is too noisy for me to hold a conversation. Any big background noise is an instant no-no. I try and sit directly opposite people I'm talking to so I can read their lips as well as hearing the words. Even with no formal training, seeing someone speak makes a world of difference in my understanding levels.
There's a game 'Senses' where you nominate a sense you think you could live without. It's a hard game to play as we're so reliant on all of our senses. The one which I definitely can't do without is hearing. My primary media is the radio, from 6Music to documentaries on Radio 4 and Comedy on 4 extra. Add to that an increasing podcast obsession, and you see I have a problem. Also it's deeply frustrating when I mis-hear people or have to ask them to repeat themselves.
Cancer is increasingly leaving more and more scars on me. Forever changing who I am and how I interact with the world. And I hate it. I hate what it's doing to me and my life. The compromises I'm forced to make and the opportunities it's taking from me. Having Cancer sucks.