Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ear surgery and fooling the brain

I wrote about discovering my hearing impairment in my post about paranoia and motherhood. This year, I finally committed to the surgery to correct the problem, and the results have surprised me at many levels.

The world is louder. At first, startling so.  For a week after the surgery, I had to close my eyes to regain my bearings. But I would also stop, mesmerized, to listen to water fountains gurgle and awake to the patter of rain through double-planed glass. Six weeks later, I still cannot hear the birds twittering outside with my fixed ear, but I was not expecting perfect hearing from the surgery.

My home, on the other hand, is quieter. Not only because the kids have been making the effort not to aggravate mamãe's sensitive ears, but also because I am not instigating the loud behavior by raising my voice unconsciously. I hope we can maintain this newfound volume, and the added politeness that seems to stroll hand-in-hand with it.

Other changes are temporary, I was told (and truly hope). Apparently, the taste nerve meanders through the surgery site on its way to the brain. I woke up from anesthesia with the sensation that my mouth had been burned by hot tea, a feeling that has not dissipated over the weeks. I had been told to expect a metallic taste that could linger for three to four months, but for me, the taste resembled licorice--Pastis liquor to be exact--on the left side of my tongue. After a month, the flavor of salty tears replaced the licorice, prominently by my lower lip.

As can be expected, my disturbed taste has changed how I perceive standard foods and beverages, and some of my favorite dishes clash horribly with the odd flavors my brain combines with them. Instead of feeling annoyed, I decided to call it amusing. If my taste nerve can fool my brain, maybe so can I.