Friday, February 4, 2011

Can you hear me now?

I'll just put this out there right now:  I have awful hearing.  It's legendary in my family.  When my mom took me to get my hearing tested somewhere between the ages of 12 and 14 (I'm guessing because I failed a school hearing test or something - one of the few things I failed.  That and cutting with scissors in kindergarten but that's because I'm left-handed and there were no left-handed scissors in the classroom then but I digress), the audiologist took a look at the results and remarked to mom that I must really struggle in school as I was missing A LOT.  "Um, no, actually, she does quite well.  Honor roll and all that."  A discussion around hearing aides commenced which I quickly nixed because hello!  Why don't roll me in dog poop everyday before sending me to school?  I wasn't enough of a dork and an outcast before, let's add big giant-ass hearing aides to it.  (Plus my orthodontist wanted me to wear my head-gear to school as well but luckily mom put the kibosh on that before I could go medieval on him.)  It would have been as Chris Knight described it in Real Genius as being guaranteed that a boy would never talk to me.  OHMIGOD, just get to the point already!

Right, the point.  So I have terrible hearing but have developed coping mechanisms and techniques to deal with it because I never knew that there was a problem.  It was just what was.  So when I didn't understand something, instead of calling attention to it (and myself), I'd just read ahead in the text book. Or the reading book.  Or whatever it was in front of me and 'learn' that way.  I'd not respond when people were talking to me if I was reading because it was no secret that I love to read and they would simply assume that I was so totally engrossed in the book that I had tuned them out.  Which I did as the voices were just a buzzing background noise, easy to ignore once you master the trick.  Once I was made aware of the deficiency graphically described as a cookie with a big bite taken out of the bottom of it, I tried to pay more attention but man, it was exhausting.  So...I just didn't. 

As I got older, I played it for laughs.  One Thanksgiving in particular my youngest sister got a phone call from her then-boyfriend now-husband and walked out of the room to talk to him in 'private'.  As she walked away, she must have said "...Mike..." which my superior auditory capabilities interpreted as 'Muffin' so I simply assumed that it was her special pet name for him.  So of course being the big sister, I tormented her with this when she came back downstairs.  "You call him Muffin?  Aw, so cute!"  She looked at me like I had grown another head and was like, no you idiot, I called him 'Mike'.  But the damage was done and for Christmas that year he got boxes of muffin mix from the fam.  My best friend even got me the Miracle Ear information package off an infomercial and THEY CALLED ME TO FOLLOW UP!  She was cracking up laughing as I was telling the very earnest young man just where he could stuff his miracle ear.

So every time we get together now, my mom will say, not at subtly, 'you are going to get your hearing checked soon, right?'  To which I typically respond, yes, when it's a problem.  I can function, I don't hear everything but I have enough coping strategies that I'm not incapacitated by it.  Well, yesterday everything changed.  I went to a new primary care doctor and as part of the medical history, she asked about my vision and hearing.  They are both terrible so I told her.  Well, at the end of the visit she decided to do a baseline hearing test to see how *bad* it was.  The instrument was like the othoscope used to look in the ears but it played a series of tones and you simply raise your hand when you hear something.  I heard...2 tones in the left ear and 3-4 in the right.  I'm not sure about the last one on the right ear as it started ringing (tinnitus.  Sexy!) then an actual tone played so I don't know if I got credit for that one or not.  The technician told me that wow, it was really bad and gave the results to the doctor who basically said, yeah, this is really really bad. 

This was delivered with the nervous smile and overly cheerful voice folks use when they are delivering bad news but don't want you to worry too much but like I said, I knew it was awful.  So she wrote me a referral for an audiologist so we could determine if it was severe enough to warrant external auditory amplifiers...oh hell, hearing aides.  I told this to my best friend who basically asked if that meant I was 'legally deaf'.  Once I stopped laughing about it, I told her I was pretty sure that no such designation existed.  Okay, it is (past) time and I have no high school boys or cliques to impress so why not?  It will go nicely with all of my grey hair.  And it will be an interesting experience to not 'read' movies.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.

And, of course, in another entry in the Preschoolers Say the Darnedest Things category, driving home yesterday, the sun had finally (!) come out what with the wind pushing the clouds away.  Noelle from the backseat chirps, ''Mommy, where are the clouds?"  "The wind blew them away baby."  Wait a beat.  "Mommy, where are the clouds?"  Me (thinking that she couldn't hear me over the radio) "The wind blew them away baby."  Not half a second later I hear "Mommy, where are the clouds?"  By this time I'm getting annoyed knowing she heard me the first two times and replied "Noelle, I just told you twice, the wind blew them away!"  She laughs and says, "I'm sorry Mommy, you'll have to speak up.  I couldn't hear you."  Which is what I say to her at least 3 times a week.

Well played, universe.  Well played.

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