Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hear and now

On Friday I missed a huge foreign-school conference in Incheon that everyone else from school attended. I felt guilty; it was an important series of meetings I could have benefited from. However, the steroids for my ear problem ran out the night before, I had an appointment for a follow-up visit, and I wasn't going to risk my hearing by waiting two weeks for the next opening.

I'll spare you the litany of frustrations that followed "Please sit in hallway" when I checked in for my hearing test. It's enough to say I waited an hour and a half because the signs were in Korean and nobody tried to help me. Finally I went down to the first floor and got an elderly volunteer from the International Medicine office to come up and translate for me.

My hearing test showed a mild-to-moderate loss of hearing on the higher frequencies in my left ear, probably permanent. Dr. Park said they couldn't do a different hearing test, which would have helped determine if it's middle-ear or inner-ear damage, because I don't speak Korean. I don't know why that's relevant--does the test involve differentiating between similar Korean words?--and it didn't seem worth pursuing, as it wouldn't make any difference.

I also wasn't clear on whether the plugging-up of my ear, which the steroids fixed, was the cause of the hearing loss, a result, or completely coincidental. Once again, it didn't seem worth pursuing.

As to the high-pitched ringing that comes and goes, Dr. Park had a two-word piece of advice: "Avoid silence." Thanks, Doc.

She also said that the hearing loss isn't unusual "for someone (my) age". Thanks a lot, Doc. I feel much better.

And that, I guess, is what I want to write about here. I've posted before that, overall, I think I've gained more than I've lost by getting older, and I'll stand by that. (At least while I can still stand.) But I've been feeling run-down a lot lately, taking naps in lieu of runs after school, and getting up for a pit stop two or three times every night. On one hash I actually had to ask my buddy Tirty-tree, whose stamina is generally so much less than mine, to walk awhile instead of running. And I don't think I'm going to make that half-marathon I told myself I was going to run this spring.

Incidentally, though I may be the oldest hasher in Korea, I've figured out that it isn't because hashing is a young person's game. I look at photos from hash kennels around the world and there are lots of geezers. It's just that my job is so unusual; there are very few American-style high schools here, and thus very few professional foreign teachers, as opposed to people who teach ESL at hagwons. That is almost entirely a job for 20-somethings, and so is the US military, and each of those demographics supplies half of our hashers.

Anyroad (I love that Britishism, and it seems appropriate to me as a runner), I'm hoping that a lot of my slump is because winter has sapped my drive and energy. We marathoners (have I ever told you I've run *two* marathons? Not one, two! As in 52 miles, 770 yards of sheer guts and the Triumph of the Human Spirit [cue trumpets]? And how you should be impressed by my indomitability? Oh, I have. Never mind) talk about "hitting the wall", that point, usually around the 20-mile mark, where there's just no gas left in the tank. I'm being melodramatic--I think--but I hope to heaven that, at age 58, I'm not hitting the wall in my life. I would hate that.

And, if I hit it head-first, I might damage my good ear. Then again, it might smooth out my forehead.

So there's that.

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