Log: Sudden Hearing Loss, steroids, and blood sugar. And a few other matters.

View 812 Tuesday, February 25, 2014


If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



In January I got new digital hearing aids from COSTCO, and shortly after my hearing was as near to normal as it has been in many decades. That continued until last Sunday. On Sunday I noticed that over the period from Noon to Dinner the hearing in my left ear became progressively worse, and by Sunday night I was as deaf as a post in my left ear. I thought at first this was some kind of hearing aid failure, but I found that if I put the left aid in my right ear I could hear in my right ear, and if I put the right aid in my left ear I could hear nothing. I did several other tests and the conclusion was obvious: I was deaf as a post in my left ear.

When I would sort of scratch on the sound input area of my right hearing aid I could clearly hear that. Sunday afternoon if I did that with the left aid, I’d sort of hear it, but not well, and over time that faded, until by Sunday night I could hear nothing at all from doing that. Similarly my hearing aids give signals, a ringing gong sound, in various patterns to convey messages: over Sunday afternoon they became fainter and fainter in my left ear, and again by Sunday night they were gone from the left but unchanged in the right.

Monday after our trip to the vet we went to Kaiser to my primary care physician, who looked at my ears, did things with a tuning fork, shone lights into my head, and other such physician activities, then excused himself and left the examining room for about ten minutes. He returned to say he had scheduled me with the audiology department for Tuesday morning – the next day, at 1030. So out I went, where I first got a fairly normal hearing exam, but not from a technician but an MD.  She didn’t show me the results of the test, but I already knew that my right ear was about the way it was before I got the hearing aids and the left was just about stony deaf. After the exam I went out to wait for a call to be examined by yet another MD.

He showed me the results. It was what I have feared. Damned near total loss in left ear. He also informed me that the diagnosis was Sudden Hearing Loss, and I pointed out that this wasn’t informative, a bit like “lumbago” for lower back pains. He agreed enthusiastically. It turns out SHL isn’t that uncommon for someone my age, but they don’t really have a good theory of causation although it’s likely that several different causes may produce the result, but they do have a treatment. It doesn’t always work, but it works better than anything else they have.

It’s steroids. A lot of steroids. Beginning with an initial application given by a needle through the eardrum; which sound extremely unpleasant, and in fact it was although less so than I had feared. I also take six steroid pills a day – the pharmacist says I can take them all at once, but with a meal – to be followed after a week or two by taking five a day, then four, then three, tapering down weekly; and also there will be three of these treatments by needle, one a week for three weeks, the first one to be in about five minutes. Or I could wait for more tests and such; he did want me to go down to the lab, which I was scheduled to do anyway. I told him to add his requirements to the already scheduled lab blood draw, and let’s get on with this. He agreed that was what he’d recommend.

It wasn’t all that hard a decision. My weeks of normal hearing with the COSTCO hearing aids were life changing. I didn’t say “Huh?” to my wife more than once, I think. I could hear just about everything going on around me. Birds. Kids laughing. The choir, and I could even understand most of the sermon although the acoustics in our church are awful (very modern with maybe 8 speakers on each side of this very great acoustically lousy hall, not really properly synchronized). Acoustics or not I could actually understand most of what was said. And at LASFS I could hear the other members of the club, and — Anyway, it turns out that it doesn’t take long to get used to being able to hear what’s going on around you, and I would put up with a lot more than an ear shot full of steroids to get it back again.

So I got the shots, and tonight at dinner I took the little pills – they’re very bitter – and watched TV for an hour, and LO! while I could not really hear in my left ear, by gollies when I scratch the input screen on the left hearing aid I can hear that, nowhere near as well as I hear when I do it to the right one, but better than late Sunday afternoon and as good as Sunday about noon. (And an hour after I wrote that I think it may be even better!) It’s nowhere good enough, but the fact that there’s a positive change is heartening. I have a faint hope that things will be restored to the point that the COSTCO technicians can retune the left aid to the point where that ear will be at least partly useful. Of course what I really hope for is that it can be made as good as it was.


Sudden Hearing Loss seems to be correlated with diabetic matters, and I’ve been somewhat diabetic for years. I haven’t always been as careful about sugar and dieting as I should be. That ends now. Today I have been quite careful about what and how much I have eaten.

I was also told that this steroid treatment can and probably will play hell with my blood sugar, and if I notice a sudden rise I should inform my primary physician who may prescribe an increase in the glocophages I take twice a day.

So, tonight, at 2200, four hours after a dinner of one half chicken sandwich, not a lot of chicken, quite a lot of lettuce, on pita bread, I took my blood sugar. I had half a sandwich for dinner because after my steroid shot in the ear but before I went to the lab I bought that sandwich at the Kaiser cafeteria, and ate half of it for lunch. I haven’t had anything else to eat all day. And I walked about a mile at Kaiser and took stairs rather than elevators for most of it.

My blood sugar reading at 2200 was 301, which is about as high a reading as I have ever had even after Niven’s New Year party. It’s usually between 130 and 145, which I think is high, but the EENT chap thought wasn’t bad. Anyway, I’ve sent email to my primary because this sounds like an increase as predicted, and since it follows the ear shot and the six steroid pills at dinner, I think it ranks as a sudden increase. Alas I haven’t taken a reading for a couple of days so I don’t know any more than that. But I’ll sure be more careful about what I eat, and now that we no longer have to worry about Sable I can take longer and more vigorous walks; which is what my cardiologist friend has been urging me to do for weeks.

And once again I can say: the problem wasn’t the COSTCO hearing aids, and indeed I have hopes that I will recover enough that they can be reprogrammed to overcome this setback; and having had nearly a month of relatively normal hearing, including going to Dvorak’s Risalka and hearing it properly and not saying “Huh?” to my long suffering wife a dozen times a day and never knowing really what was going on – even a month of that was pretty well worth the cost, and I still have hopes.

I kept reasonably good notes during the radiation treatment of my brain cancer five years ago – six years come March – and I will try to log going from a deaf old guy to nearly normal hearing to this remission and, we can hope, to restoration of at least some of my left ear. And maybe that will help someone find a better diagnosis than “Sudden Hearing Loss” which is a bit like telling a sleepless person that he has insomnia.

[Morning, 0900 before breakfast, 175, still high but not so frighteningly so. No change in left ear hearing: I still detect scratching the sound intake area, but I in my left ear cannot hear the gongs when the device signals me although they are fine on the right side. More steroids at noon. And I have heard from my primary physician not to worry about the 301 reading.]


Retire ‘Em


This really doesn’t go far enough. Many of the flag officer billets should be downgraded and staffed with Colonels/Captains and Lt. Colonels/Commanders. The inflation of stars – mostly for political and appearance purposes – has not benefited as a whole.



David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work

They are shrinking the Army and probably the Marine Corps, so there will certainly be less need for general officers; although the Navy and Marine Corps remain the usual instrument of American power projection when we are not at war. I am sure most readers are aware that I think the arrangement of a Department of the Navy and a Department of War made a lot of sense for a Republic. But that’s another discussion for another time. I should probably try to write a short piece on the Strategy of Technology in the modern age. Thanks.

The Iron Law affects military organizations, but having actually to fight wars weeds some of that out. And I rather like the notion of a service led by officers who have been in front of a bunch of armed Americans in combat.


On Global Temperatures

Thought this was a very carefully explained post.



I found this explanatory but it may be at the edge of my understanding. When I was in human factors testing astronauts and others tolerance of temperatures and ability to perform at various temperatures, I learned a lot about the state of the art of temperature measurement — admittedly for 1957 or so – and the difficulties of coming up with a reason for averaging numbers obtained in many different ways.

I know we have experts on this subject among the readers, and I invite comments on this.



Heinlein Society (@HeinleinSociety) tweeted at 5:58 PM on Mon, Feb 24, 2014:

Biggest Lunar Explosion Ever Seen: http://t.co/4UBaEsul5T


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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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