Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss

·4 min read
Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss
Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss

M. Rice Photography Phillip Michael Parsons

It was July of 2021, and Phillip Michael Parsons found himself on the road yet again, playing shows and meeting his growing legion of loyal fans in an effort to set a fire under his country music career.

"We were driving home from a show in Myrtle Beach, and I was talking to my tour manager, and I realized I couldn't hear out of my right ear," says Parsons, 29, in an interview with PEOPLE. "I was kind of weirded out, but then I woke up the next day and it was fine."

Yet a few days later, the Maryland native lost his hearing in that ear again. And over the next few weeks, Parsons would deal with the ailment on and off. But as he was returning home from a family vacation in Costa Rica in September, he began to realize this annoying problem with his ear might be far more serious than he once thought.

"I remember getting on that flight home and I couldn't hear anything in that ear, but this time I was also experiencing sinus pain," Parsons remembers. "I fell asleep, and when I woke up, I looked around the airplane and I couldn't even pick my head up. I couldn't really tell which way was up. The plane was spinning, and I felt so weird, and I was starting to get nauseous. I closed my eyes until we landed."

Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss
Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss

M. Rice Photography Phillip Michael Parsons

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But when Parsons tried to get off the plane, he couldn't walk.

"I tried to walk, and I ended up falling into this sign that was in front of one of the restaurants in the terminal," he remembers. "And at that point, I knew this was not normal."

The next 48 hours was a mix of dizziness and pain, confusion and a brain fog that Parsons had never experienced before.

"I couldn't think, and I couldn't function," he remembers. "People were trying to talk to me, and I could hear them, and I was responding, but I wasn't able to really talk or explain myself. I felt like I had been drugged or severely drunk."

Parsons eventually went to the hospital, but doctors there seemed to be as confused as he was as to what was going on. And while an ear specialist would later confirm that Parsons' outer and middle ear looked healthy, the problem not only continued… but was getting worse.

"I still couldn't walk at all," says Parsons, who has played alongside the likes of Chris Janson, Chris Lane, and Jimmie Allen. "There was one time that I was sitting, trying to get something from my dresser, and I had no idea how to go from a sitting position to a standing position. It was so crazy. There's no way to describe it. I was trying to figure out which way was up. I had no hearing in my right ear and my ear was ringing so loud that I got to the point I couldn't talk to people."

And in the very same week that Parsons was dropping his single "Give It to Me Country," doctors began to believe that there must have been a tumor pressing on Parsons' inner ear, so they ordered an MRI. Ultimately that MRI showed no tumors. However, Parsons was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020, and some wondered if there might be a correlation.

But currently, medical professionals are stumped. And so is Parsons.

"At this point I'm completely deaf in my right ear," says Parsons, whose current single "Did It Work for You" debuted in the top 25 on the iTunes chart upon its release in September. "I think that it's starting to become a little bit more normal. The doctors say that over time, your brain can adjust to some crazy stuff."

Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss
Country Music Artist Phillip Michael Parsons Returns to the Road Following Partial Hearing Loss

M. Rice Photography Phillip Michael Parsons

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He pauses, and the emotions of it all begin to spill out.

"The first time I picked up my guitar after all this, I just bawled my eyes out because I couldn't sing and play the guitar at the same time because the sounds sounded so crazy in my head," he explains. "It didn't sound like music to me."

But music is his livelihood, and in November, Parsons returned to the road for the first time in two months with an earplug in his right ear and an earpiece in his left.

"There have been so many things that I've dealt with in my life that are way worse and more serious than this," he says quietly. "And I feel like every person that has ever reached their goals had a thousand of these types of roadblocks. I know it sounds cliché, but to me, I feel like it's another one of those things that just becomes part of my story."