People I know and love believe I’m suffering from hearing loss. Could it be because I frequently say, “Huh?” and “What?” Or could it be because I like my music on the loud side? Regardless, after getting their feedback for a couple of years I decided it was time for me to have my hearing tested by a professional.
My appointment was Thursday afternoon. Beforehand I wondered briefly if I should have studied for a hearing test. Perhaps I could turn the radio way down low and see what I was able to hear. Yes, I know this was an absurd idea, but I’ve always been an excellent test taker due to my diligent preparatory work. I worried that perhaps this was one I might fail simply because there was no way to practice for it.
Additionally, due to election jitters I hadn’t slept much in the past two nights. Would sleep deprivation affect the outcome? Would a healthy snore be misconstrued as a test answer? If I nodded off and the ear buds fell out would that constitute failure? Sigh.
I arrived nearly an hour ahead of schedule for my appointment. At least I could demonstrate my eagerness to excel. Perhaps garner some bonus points.
They took me right back and had me sit in a chair that reminded me vaguely of those chairs one sees in prison shows. Straight-backed, padded. I was hoping there wouldn’t be a leather mask involved.
I needn’t have worried. As I sat there an assistant asked me a series of questions. I knew the answer to each and every one of them. Winning!
Then I was taken into the testing room—basically a closet with a single chair (totally unlike the one in the previous room) and some technical equipment. Nothing sinister. A different assistant hooked me up with a microphone on my collar and placed earbuds in each ear. They were surprisingly comfortable. Why can’t all earbuds fit that well?
She then left the small room, closing me up inside, and asked me several more questions via the earbuds. We began the first test in which I was to repeat a series of simple words as I heard them. No problem. I could hear all but the very quietest ones. I suspected that only a dog could hear those.
Then came the “beep” test. I’m certain there’s a technical term for it, but for my purposes beep should suffice. The assistant played a series of beeps and all I had to do was say “yes” when I heard the beep. Easy, right? Except that I found myself straining to hear something, Anything. I started doubting what I’d heard or even wondering if my mind was conjuring sounds that weren’t there.
I began perspiring profusely. My pulse pounded in my temples. My breathing became shallow and labored. I honestly thought I might pass out. My immediate thought was “panic attack”! I tried to regulate my breathing while still listening for beeps. I was a mess by the time it ended, certain I’d failed miserably.
Visions of hearing aids danced in my head. I’m not opposed to hearing aids, but I really hoped I wouldn’t yet need them.
It seems, though, that I performed much better than I’d thought. In spite of my panic I managed to only show a slight hearing loss. When I finally saw the doctor back in the first room with the prison chair he just recommended that I check again in another couple of years.
How about that? Looks like I’m still a great test taker. And my family members just need to speak up. Bunch of mumblers.