A Trip to Audiology

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OK, don’t fret, I’m not going to bore you all with a drivel of the same old repeated excuses but going to jump straight in …

It’s an absolute scorcher today, proper summer weather with sunshine, blue skies and that lovely gentle breeze which makes it all bearable.  A little crazy given that we seem to be into autumn properly now and only a few weeks ago, at the beginning of the month, we were being threatened with frost, ice and even snow by the creative geniuses that are weatherfolk.  We haven’t had too many days like this during the summer but it hasn’t been as bad as everyone would like to make out, just we’ve had loads of horrible humidity and grey skies.  Blerk.  Summer is a highly unreliable season.  It holds too many promises, or people tend to ascribe them to that particular time of the year anyhow.  Then naturally they get let down.

I’ve got a rotten cold (I can whinge about that at length some other time) and besides which I’m absolutely knackered at the moment so my husband insisted that I take the bus to the hospital.  Which in my very humble opinion is a complete waste of money.  Life is supposed to kill you, or at least make you more worn out.  He won.  So I arrived in audiology looking fairly presentable and still (mostly) breathing.  A bonus that I was secretly grateful for.

I broke my mould a little while ago.  Well I didn’t, it did.  It just broke.  I went to put it in and it had this massive crack in it which quickly became a massive split.  I didn’t even know it was possible for them to break; they’re not exactly delicate are they?!  Oh, if you’re not au fait with hearing aids, the mould is the pluggish ear shaped bit that sits in your ear lobe.  Have you ever heard of one breaking?  Apparently they can.

They, that is the very nice lady audiologist (I qualify this because the audiologists in my life are usually wretchedly mean), decided to fit me with one of those new fangled mould-less pipes which are supposedly more comfortable and discreet.  Fair enough.  The problem with that is they now have to adjust the settings for this new system.  It kind of sounds like I’m at the swimming pool when I first turn it on.  A slightly warm, bubbly, echoey distort.

Which is why I was trotting (or getting the bus) down to the hospital today.  To have my settings reconfigured.  Coo, I wish they could do that as easily for the rest of me!

Today I had another very nice lady audiologist (I know, two in a row, it’s unheard of!  I did get a little concerned when a very grumpy looking man audiologist stepped out of one of the offices but fortunately he was looking for someone surnamed ‘Tinker’; isn’t that a great surname?).  We had the same name (mine is a very rare name) too, me and the nice lady audiologist that is.  She decided that rather than reconfiguring my settings straightaway she’d give me a hearing test first.  Which is where it kind of got all interesting.

She was going to just test my right ear because that’s one I wear an aid in but I explained that although the powers-that-be have fitted it to the right side, it’s actually my left one which has the problems.  So we tested both.  I thought I was doing pretty well as I was hitting the button far too much to convince anyone that I have hearing loss.  (Audiologists never believe I can’t hear for some reason, it’s been a long running battle since probably before I started school.  I got my first hearing aid when I was twenty-one.)  When I have a cold or something then I tend to be far more sensitive to noise then I am usually.  There is also quite a difference between hearing a noise (the hearing test is composed of a mixture of hideous ear piercing shrills, beeps and tones akin to telephone ring and dialling tones) and understanding sound (ie conversation).

Then she fitted some kind of contraption which seems to have been invented by a dentist as it pulverised my skull into a very strange angle and left my forehead very sore.  (I’ll share my thoughts on dentists another day, I’ve recently been at war.)  I’ve never had that done before.  Then after that, we had something which I promptly christened the ‘train test’.  They send a hideous ‘rushing’ noise, which I can’t actually make up my mind if it’s the sound of a train rushing by or the sound that you’d hear if you ill advisedly decided to stick your head out the window of a high-speed train, into one ear whilst trying to get to you to hear some faint beepy noises in the other.  Didn’t like that.

Then she showed me the results.  First of all, I found out that I haven’t had a hearing test since 2007.  Unlike eyes and glasses, which you feel duty bound to check every so often and kind of expect to deteriorate, I don’t really think to have my hearing checked.  I’m supposed to be recalled every five years anyway, apparently.  I don’t expect it to go downhill, hearing is a static thing, surely?

My husband has been asking me if I’ve got my hearing aid turned on quite a lot lately.  I blamed his grumpiness.  (He’s used to me not paying any attention at home because I never wear it then, only when I go out).  “Turn it on!”  “But it is!”  I usually have to prove it.  But you know, my hearing’s fine.

Apparently on one of these graphs (told you she was a nice audiologist, she actually explained the results, I’ve never had that happen) normal hearing should be below 20 (which is the top of the graph, bizarrely).  My average on the right WAS about 30.  That was in 2007.  I’m now above 40.  On both ears.  And there’s big chunks (the ‘low’ tones which I’ve always told them that I’ve had trouble with, well in real life what are you most likely to hear anyway?  The fire alarm or a conversation?  Completely different pitches, irrespective of volume.) which are quite a bit more below that.

Oooh.

The result is that I’m going to have to be fitted for (funky) new hearing aids because my current model doesn’t cover my hearing loss.  And when I say hearing aids, I mean two, one for each ear.  (I keep typing year not ear, I don’t know what that says about my hearing, brain or cold.)  So I’m going back to audiology again.

The worst of it is that at some point I’m going to have to let my husband know.  You know, the whole thing about me not being able to hear EVEN when I’m plugged in.  I’ve got a nasty feeling that this is going to involve the ‘told you so’ phrase.  Hmmm.

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4 thoughts on “A Trip to Audiology

  1. Studio Liz

    This was a very interesting and informative post. Not only did I learn about hearing loss, but you made it personal and humorous, so it kept my attention. Very nice.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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