Yesterday I made the dreaded annual visit to the audiologist. (Well, supposedly annual; it had been more than 18 months). It’s dreaded, because with a progressive hearing loss, no one is ever going to say, “Hey! You’ve improved!” Those little lines on the audiogram sink slowly towards the bottom of the chart each visit, bit by tiny bit. And, sure enough, I’ve lost a bit more of the lower-pitched tones. I had already guessed that, because it’s been more difficult to hear men lately. It wasn’t a huge drop, though. Thankfully, though my hearing is always declining, it’s doing so at a fairly slow rate.
I lost the most in my left ear, which, according to the audiograms, has always been my ‘bad’ ear; it’s deafer than the right. I simply hear less sound with it when they test me with pure tones. But the oddest thing is that my speech comprehension is much higher in the ‘bad’ ear. Though it hears less sound, it understands words better. Go figure.
The other thing that’s been happening over the past 18 months is, without my hearing aids, whether or not I hear a loud-enough sound depends on the direction it’s coming from. It happens with sound from a concentrated source, like the really loud old fan Paul runs every night for white noise. If I’m directly across the room from it, with it facing my ear, I hear it. If I turn my head in either direction: nothing. In March, at Ragdale, that began to happen with a few people’s voices, mostly men.
The audiologist has no explanation for either of these things.
I also began my video project while there, recording parts of the examination. (The camera shut itself off right before the word testing, which I wanted to record…but it was on its tripod in the corner, and I was hooked up to earphones and a variety of wires, and couldn’t reach it to turn it back on. Dang.). At one point on the video I did shoot, the audiologist is just offscreen, with my hearing aids in her hand, talking to me, and I am relying entirely on reading her lips. I look really fierce, squinting, my mouth set in a line, my head thrust forward. No wonder some people think I’m angry, or that I disapprove of what they’re saying. I’m only struggling to hear, but I look like I might jump up and start punching.
So, my head is quite odd, in a number of ways, even apart from my brain.