After hearing from my uncle, who's a doctor, who echoed my internist's concerns that while the tinnitis might be reversible, the hearing loss caused by the Salsalate is likely not to be, I've officially gone non-compliant with my meds.
Well, officially in that I've told my internist that I've been off them for 48 hours or so now and that I'm leery of resuming them. (I went off them primarily because my prescription ran out and with this bug hitting me so hard, I wasn't making it to the pharmacist quickly enough.)
The good news is at least some of the hearing has come back. The scary part of the loss I had has reversed. It might be because my ear infection is improving (although my internist said today my left ear drum was really bulging from the extra pressure in it and my right ear still looked very red and infected -- although it doesn't hurt as much as the left one.) Or it might be from the Salsalate being stopped.
My internist and I agreed that since it was a symptomatic treatment and the only thing not taking it might cause is increased joint pain, there was really no damage caused by not taking the Salsalate right now.
I have an appointment for a hearing test with an audiologist followed by an appointment with my ENT on Feb. 20, so we'll see what he says. Until then, I'm definitely not resuming the Salsalate.
I guess the bad part is that I am afraid to call the new rheumatologist and tell him I've chosen not to take the medication. I really liked him, but I know he's really busy and I'm afraid he'll say that if I won't take his advice, I need to find a new doctor and fire me as a patient. I've heard about that happening. Not with him -- just other people with other doctors.
My internist says not to worry about it for now and to wait and see what the ENT says. If he sees that it's a problem, then she says I can go back to the rheumatologist and tell him that I was having so much hearing loss that my ENT was concerned that it was caused by the medication and might be permanent if I continued to take it. That sounds good, right? :)
Anyway, my hearing is still worse than it was before the Salsalate, but the good news is it's better than how scary it got last week. The most important thing is that I can hear Ellie most of the time and understand a good bit of what she's saying, particularly if she's actually talking to me (i.e. facing me/looking at me) rather than talking to Scott in another part of the room. (I'm gonna hate it if I permanently lose the ability to overhear other people's conversations! It's the best part of people watching. :)
3 weeks ago