I am a age group amateur Triathlete and had an accident at a recent Triathlon in early July.
Since I planned on wearing hearing aids during the bike and run, it was my intention to dry my ears out with Q-Tips and insert my hearing aids so I could complete the bike and run and be able to hear. Sounds simple right? Well, I ran into T1 and inserted the Q-tips into my ears, the same way as I do after every shower at home. I got my bike stuff on and was ready to put my helmet on so I reached up to remove the Q-Tips and accidentally struck them with the palm of my had shoving them deep into my ears. As soon as that happened, my hearing went to zero. I fused with the Q-tips for a moment and stumbled around in transition for about a minute when I thought “well, it could just be water pushed deep into my ears so I should continue to race”. I did so but could hear almost nothing during the bike and run.
After the race, I went to a buddy’s trailer and we put some swimmers ear drops (mostly alcohol) into my right ear. Instantly, I was screaming in pain as if felt like scalding liquid burning my ear from deep inside. At that point, I knew I had a serious ear injury. I walked back to the start finish line so see some of the other finishers and bother ears started dripping blood. The blood pooling in my middle ears made me start to feel ill and I began to have serious balance issues. I stayed for the awards and then went to Keizer hospital in Sacramento.
The doctor the examined me said that I had completely ruptured both ear drums and I would need to see a specialist when I returned home. He gave me some antibiotics and medicine to help control my balance and sickness. The very next Monday, I saw my racing budding in Redding who happens to be an ENT doctor. He looked in my ears and said that it will be at least two or three months before they heal and I absolutely cannot swim until they are healed. So that pretty much scraps the Triathlon season for this year, however I do plan on doing two Marathons at a minimum. The CIM in Sacramento on December 4th and the Redding Marathon January 7th,
Right now, because my balance still remains a problem, my driving is limited and bike riding is out for a while. I cannot talk on the phone or communicate with people verbally unless they are very close and speaking directly into my face (loudly). Fortunately, I have a group of good assistant managers that can help me at work by dealing with all my phone and customer interaction duties. If you have ever swam deep underwater and noticed how quiet it is, that how I feel all the time right now. However, my buddy thinks I should be good to go in a few months so I am not worrying too much.
Last Monday I saw my ENT and the holes in my eardrums have not started to heal yet but they have stopped bleeding. I did see my audiologist did a new new hearing test and then reprogrammed my hearing aids so that I could hear a little better, but using the telephone is still not possible at all. Now, my low frequency hearing is way down in the 70’s and 80 now. She did set me up with a Bluetooth wireless streamer that sends my cell phone signal directly into my hearing aids while muting all other external sounds. This works pretty well actually.
Anyway, it will be several months before things heal up and I can hear again. As you can imagine, Q-tips are no longer used in my house.