Having seen my GP again, after a week of taking the anti-inflammatory tablets with no improvement, I was then referred to a specialist.
I began day 19 of being deaf by going to see an ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist. I had taken the morning off work – it was a Friday. I was hoping that this would be the end of my ‘journey’ of deafness, and that someone would find the problem, give me some medicine, and all would be well.
I waited a long time at the specialists. I wasn’t even sure if I was in the right area. Everything was labelled in Spanish, and I kept double-checking the number on the door that I was waiting outside. I remember noticing how people to my left were all in silent mode. Their lips were moving but they were speaking with no sound, like they were performing a mime. To my right, things were as normal, I could hear doors opening and closing, and people’s names being called by the doctors.
My name was called, and a friendly woman asked me what the problem was. I told her briefly what had happened, and then I had to do my first audiometry (hearing test) – this was to be the first of many. The woman who explained the test to me was small, thin, and serious looking. After the test, her manner changed to a more motherly figure, and she took me by my arm. She spoke quickly and in Spanish, and I only understood part of what she was saying. She was telling me that I had to go to the A&E department of a nearby hospital immediately. She wrote down the hospital details and explained to me which Metro to take. I thanked her, and she looked me in the eye and told me she hoped I would be better soon.
When I left the building, I walked down the road to a bench that I had noticed earlier that morning. It was a sunny day, and nice to be outside as the city was beginning to warm up. My mind was disorganized with worry. I informed my headteacher that I wasn’t going to be back at work just yet, and contacted my boyfriend to let him know what was happening.
I was called into the ENT’s room at the hospital. I had been sitting outside waiting, thinking of all the things I had to remember to tell her, and exhausting my Spanish language skills to form sentences in my head. I walked through the door, and she immediately asked me if it would be better for me if she spoke in English. Oh my goodness, I was so glad to be able to explain my problem in my home language. She told me that she had lived in York for some time – a city close to where I grew up. After she had listened to my story, and she had looked inside my ears and mouth, she told me that I would have to stay in the hospital over the weekend. They were going to try giving me various medications, and on Monday they would do some tests.
Soon after, I was taken to a narrow room with a row of chairs, where people were being administered intravenous drugs. First I was attached to a giant glass bottle of anti-inflammatory medicine that dripped quickly through the line into my body. I was sat in a chair next to an American woman who was having problems with her gall bladder, and was in Spain traveling. She had recently been awarded her sommelier certificate, and had planned to travel around Spain with her husband, tasting wines from different regions. I helped her, by translating some of what the nurse was saying to her, and asking for water. I also met a guy, whose name I later learned was Alvaro. He was skinny, pale with dark shoulder length hair, and had kind eyes. He came to speak to me, and told me that he could translate if I needed it. Alvaro was there with his grandma, who was also being given the giant bottle of anti inflammatories. I was in this room for over 5 hours. Just as I was being attached to a bottle of antiviral medication, my boyfriend walked through the door and gave me a big hug. Sometime later, I was taken to a bed in an A&E ward, and I was so happy to finally get a hospital bed for the weekend.