• Green Light: Mr D.

    This is the fifth installment of my autobiographical series on my experiences with hearing loss. You can view earlier posts: Prologue; Chapter 1: Seeing Sounds; Chapter 2: Fearless Leader; Chapter 3: The Black Box. Posts appear every other Friday.  Sometime when I was six or seven, I was sent to a new school. It was far from our residence, which… Continue Reading

  • Ear-picks to Q-tips

    Cotton-wool has long been a staple in households as well as in the aural surgeon’s tool kit. For ear ailments, cotton was used in all sorts of ways: soaked in olive oil and inserted into the ear, trimmed and soaked in medicaments to cover a perforated eardrum, and even inserted between rubber to serve as… Continue Reading

  • An Experiment in Chloroform

    Tinnitus. A ringing, buzzing, singing, clicking, roaring, annoying sound. It can get so loud that every other sound in the vicinity is drowned out. It can last a few minutes, or hours, or even years. It can be divine retribution, the “Curse of Titus,” after an insect flew into Titus’ nose and picked his brain… Continue Reading

  • Blowena: A Sideline Cure for Deafness

    During the early twentieth century, a man by the name of George P. Way set up his “Artificial Ear Drum Company” in Detroit, Michigan. The company advertised patented eardrums that Way boasted could restore hearing loss even after twenty-five years. Tiny and invisible, these eardrums increased amplification while providing the wearer immense comfort, as an… Continue Reading

  • Green Light: Fearless Leader

    This is the third post of my autobiographical series on my experiences with hearing loss. You can view the first (here) and second (here) ones as well. Posts appear every other Friday.  II. Fearless Leader When you’re a little kid, so many things can mean the world to you. You may be unable to explain why,… Continue Reading

  • Syphilitic Invasions of the Ear

    The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice has a wonderful post on Georgian prostitution and syphilis, which inspired me to dig up my research notebooks and uncover what nineteenth-century aurists wrote about syphilis and deafness. Syphilis is a fascinating topic. In nineteenth-century London, people were quite aware of the gruesome and devastating aspects of the disease. The memoirs of… Continue Reading

  • Powell’s Electro-Vibratory Cure for Deafness

    In 1905, Dr. Guy Clifford Powell, of Peoria, Illinois invented and marketed a device he called the “Electro-Vibratory Cure for Deafness.” The apparatus apparently cured a patient of deafness by pumping air through the ears via cotton-covered electrodes soaked in salt water. After pumping in air, a jolt of electricity generated by the solenoid coils… Continue Reading

  • 10 Extreme 19th Century “Cures” for Deafness

    The nineteenth-century introduced a tremendous number of treatments boasting cures for irremediable deafness. Some of these cures were advised by aurists (specialists of the ear); others were tested home remedies or marketed as proprietary nostrums. Below is a list of some of the most extreme measures that were once popular treatments: 1. MERCURY The use… Continue Reading

  • Green Light I

    This is the first of an autobiographical series on my experiences with hearing loss. Posts shall appear every other Friday. PROLOGUE. In my memories, that’s where it all begins. In that little room, or perhaps just a bed, where the green light shone, blinding me to the world. Voices of my father, mother, and nanny came and went.… Continue Reading

  • Galvanism & Deafness

    Galvanism is a medical treatment that involves the application of electric currents to body tissues in order to stimulate the contraction of muscles. First experimented in the late eighteenth-century by Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) who investigated frog legs twitching once sparked by an electric current, galvanism was believed to be a miraculous application of scientific prowess… Continue Reading