So, remember that hearing problem I wrote about? Turns out it's slightly more serious than I thought. An MRI discovered that I have an acoustic neuroma, which is a benign tumor that can be removed by surgery. At this stage it's relatively small, but left unchecked it could grow to the point that it presses against my brainsteam - a life-threatening situation. Needless to say, I'm getting the damn thing removed soon.
The procedure is scheduled for September 6, and should last 4-5 hours. I'll be in the hospital for 3-5 days following the operation, and recovery may take a few weeks due to dizziness caused by a loss of balance that often results from the procedure (I'm not looking forward to that). The good news is that I've been instructed to return to my computer as soon as possible, since reading will actually help me recover my balance more quickly. The bad news is that I've been told that the hearing loss I've been experiencing in my left ear will likely be permanent. While the hearing loss itself isn't too bad, the tinnitus is getting annoying - it's like a high-pitched buzzer I can't turn off.
This isn't the first operation I've had, but I have to admit it's the first one that has me a little scared (it's near my brain - that's scary). Some of the possible side effects - such as facial paralysis and eye problems - are common enough that I can't simply shrug them off, but I have spoken with a few people who know others who have had the operation, and they've all done well in the long term.
Regardless, I look forward to putting this behind me and getting on with my life.