Five months ago today I had surgery on my left ear to remove a mass that was growing just inside my eardrum. The outcome of that surgery was a mixed bag. The surgeon was able to remove the mass, but that nasty mass managed to eat one of the tiny bones that connect the eat drum to the inner ear. As a result, I’m deaf in that ear and, if I ever want to hear from the left side of my head again, I’ll need another surgery to have a prosthetic bone implanted. Bummer, huh?
But that’s not the worst of it. As I wrote here in February, one of the strange, unexpected, and disconcerting consequences of the surgery was that I lost my sense of taste. I can no longer taste the food that I eat.
I did some research on this phenomenon, and I learned that, due to a nerve of taste that runs under the eardrum and brings taste to the sides of the tongue, a loss of taste after ear surgery can occur in up to 10% of ear procedures and that loss may last for a few months.
But it’s been five months since my ear surgery and everything I eat is still tasteless. Enjoying delicious-tasting food is one of life’s pleasures and it’s killing me that I don’t get much pleasure out of eating these days.
Last week I called my doctor about the follow-up surgery, but he said that non-critical and non-emergency surgeries are on hold until the whole pandemic thing passes. Then I asked him about my continuing inability to taste anything and how long he thought it will be before I regain my taste. He said that only about 10% of those who temporarily lose their sense of taste after middle ear surgery lose it permanently, so there’s a slim chance I still might eventually get back my ability to taste food again.
“Great,” I said. “10% of those who have middle ear surgery experience a loss to taste for a few months and only 10% of them lose it permanently. How lucky am I to be in the 10% of the 10% who permanently lose their ability to taste food.
He chuckled and said, “Look at it this way, you can now claim that you’re part of America’s top one percent.”