One thing I’ve discovered since moving to Florida from New Jersey; it doesn’t matter what state I’m in, my hearing sucks.
That’s why I made an appointment with an audiologist – that and because a few weeks ago my TV was so loud, I was getting complaints from my neighbors…in New Jersey. Plus, I was getting tired of talking to people, while I looked into their eyes, nodding and smiling stupidly thinking, “I have no idea what this person is saying.” After years of practice, I’ve managed to maintain my end of these conversations by saying, convincingly, things like, “Really” “No kidding” and “Wow!”
I have what is known as degenerative hearing loss, which means, it is only going to get worse every year. It’s also genetic. My father had it and so did his mother. Times like these, I wished I had my mother’s genes. Then, instead of hearing loss, my biggest worry would be curly hair and large breasts.
So, I went to my audiologist, Dr. Alphonse “This Is Easier Than Learning Sign Language” Di Turri. I would love to be an audiologist meeting my patient for the first time. The first thing I’d do is have a little fun and speak in broken sentences. “How __ you __day, __ter __Gill. Please __ a __eat. Then, the next sentence, I would just move my mouth.
The doctor told me he wanted to test my hearing, so he had me step into a soundproof booth, with a window, so I could see him. Either that, or I stepped back in time and became a contestant on a 1950’s quiz show.
One of the tests required me to wear headphones while he sent me a series of tones. Now, I must preface here that in addition to having a hearing loss, I also have tinnitus…ringing in the ears. I once told this woman (true story) I had tinnitus and she told me her sister got that from playing tennis. I said, “Tinnitus, not tendonitis, you twit.”
Anyway, back to the test. The doctor sent these tones into my headphones and I was instructed to say the word “yes” whenever I heard one. Well, the lower, bass tones were fairly audible, so I had no problem responding “yes” to them. But, once he got into higher range, it was hard for me to decipher which were the tones and which were my imaginary bells ringing. So, I randomly started saying “yes.” I had a feeling the good doctor was having fun with me by not sending any tones and seeing how often I would say “yes.” I became more aware of his prank when I would say “yes” and he would raise his clipboard to his face and convulse.
The next test was for him to say a word and for me to repeat it. I was to say whatever word I thought I heard. At first it was easy, but then he lowered the volume on his microphone and it became increasingly difficult. You’ll be pleased to know, Webster’s Dictionary is considering adding my words “harvesnard” “koogen-floogen” and “prfft” in their next edition. I’m not really sure how to spell that last one.
After a few more tests, it was determined that I have a fifty per cent hearing loss in each ear; which is okay by me, since I only listen to half of what people tell me anyway.
I asked the doctor what could be done. He suggested I replace the picture on my driver’s license with the picture of a stone.
He also suggested hearing aids, which I have been trying to get used to. I am still clueless as to what people are saying to me in conversation, but I’ve added new words to hold up my end, including “Gosh” “Golly” and “Get the hell out of here.” Being in a crowded environment, like a restaurant, is a nightmare, because the hearing aids pick up every noise and voice. I’ve started taking medicine for paranoia, because I think everyone is talking about me.
On the plus side, since I’ve been wearing hearing aids, while watching TV, I’ve had no complaints from my neighbors…well, the ones in New Jersey anyway.