Deafness runs in the family. At school it was thought that I was what they then called 'a late developer'. I was also persuaded of this because my mind freely wandered. I preferred to dream, but in fact I was growing quite deaf due to Osteoporosis. Apparently it didn't bother me too much. Perhaps because deafness is also conducive to drifting into Dreamland.
An eminent Otologist informed me relatively recently that there are about twelve cases like mine in Nice, France; victims of the delicate operation Stapedectomy* performed by an aesthetic surgeon then based there, who turned out to be a charlatan. To cite the phrase of this far more qualified Otologist : 'il entre, fait un massacre, puis il sort' (He enters- the ear- performs a massacre, then exits).
*Stapedectomy is the removal of malfunctioning stapes to be substituted with a tiny, single protheses in the middle ear.
But naturally the victims are the first responsible because obviously they are the first concerned. Initially they should take the necessary steps to make sure that their choice of surgeon is the best possible option. In my case I simply, naively relied on the opinion of my then father-in-law, a General Practitioner, whose judgement I implicitly but foolishly trusted at that time. Being then new to France, virtually under his wing, without health insurance and with limited resources, it then seemed to me to be a reasonable opportunity, certainly if, according to a respected doctor, the aesthetic surgeon is fully qualified to perform such operations.
Yet after the disaster, (of which I am constantly reminded by the cacophony caused by severe tinnitus) how is it that a young foreigner can rapidly obtain information regarding the existence of one the best clinics of Otology in France, of which an experienced French GP apparently knows nothing about?
In fact it was the Clinique d'Otologie of Jean Cause in Beziers, who tried very hard to restore a small degree of hearing to my massacred left ear, but it was irredeemable.
To be as fair as one possibly can with a charlatan, the first stapedectomy operation that in this particular case I fully gained from, was carried out by a Doctor Wright at Middlesex Hospital in London. I was 19 or 20 years old then. The operation was quite new in those days. In fact this particular surgeon was knighted for his very fine work. I still benefit from the hearing that my right ear is capable of discerning, thanks to him. This even though I also need a hearing aid. But my left ear is only good for holding pencils, and constantly producing internal cacophonous sounds that would drive most people less accustomed (or conditioned) more insane than even I am.
It was less known at the time of this first operation on my right ear, that one should not indefinitely postpone a similar operation on one's other ear. But a few years after the first operation, I left England to work abroad, and the years sometimes seem to flip by imperceptibly. One could therefore argue that a second operation on the other ear was somewhat overdue.
In any case the aesthetic surgeon lost his licence to practice. After being ousted from the medical profession, he seems to have disappeared.
The above image is a sad souvenir. All that remains of the original, as far as I'm concerned, is a poor 35mm transparency. It was on finding this transparency that brought it all back, like a distant seagull's sad lament, because immediately after the operation, as a token of gratitude, I gave the original art of this early work carried out in Holland in the seventies, to the aesthetic surgeon for his 'thoughtful care and attention'. Perhaps I also imagined that by making such a gesture, he would go easy on me regarding his fee, but this too would emphasise how 'gullible' I was at that time..
Text and image © Mirino. May, 2015