I am still recovering from Covid 19, it’s been three weeks. Initially it was not so terrible, after two days of a low fever I thought the worst was behind me. About a week after testing positive one of my ears became clogged, and I was experiencing some hearing loss. My primary care physician reassured me this was not uncommon and that the congestion moved from my chest to my head (ear). It felt the way my ears sometimes feel after flying so it was not worrisome. Five days later, I started experiencing Tinnitus, and the constant high pitched noise in my head combined with hearing loss made it almost unbearable to sleep.
Tinnitus has been more manageable during the daytime surrounded by background noise but at night when it was time to sleep it almost felt claustrophobic. Last weekend I ended up in urgent care, was told I had a bulging ear drum with fluid behind it, “take Allegra D and use Flonase and you’ll be better in a few days”.
In the meantime, sleep became even more elusive and the exhaustion from lack of sleep made it difficult to do anything but cry! I was no better five days later and found an Ear Nose Throat specialist that actually had appointments available within 24 hours, a huge relief after learning my insurance network via Northwestern Hospital had no ENT openings until January! I had an audiogram on Thursday and the correct diagnosis is I have a retracted ear drum with negative middle ear pressure, most likely causing the tinnitus. Correct treatment – I am taking steroids to reduce swelling and already have improved hearing which is allowing me to better manage the tinnitus.
When I was feeling my worst last weekend the only thing I could do for relief was to paint, to “escape” outside of my head, into another zone, my safe space, my painting space, a quiet space. I worked on the painting “A Quiet Place”, and found comfort trying to re-create the feeling I have every time I visit the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. I worked from my photos but know this place so well, I didn’t really need them. My last visit there I made a short video capturing the sound of water flowing down the slate rocks. I’m sharing my instagram post below (click the sound button to hear the water, either on top or bottom right corner of video).
Living a creative life, having a way to get lost in “the zone” when I connect with a painting, has always been a comfort to me. Art will always be my happy place and allow me a way to express what words can not.
Covid is a terrible, terrible disease, and even though I was vaccinated and boosted the side effects were unpredictable. I think it is the unknown of this disease that is most frightening. I am hopeful my hearing and tinnitus will continue to improve, and look forward to re-visiting the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in the next few days.