Kicked in the Pants

Posted by Living Sounds

Mapping Out My Hearing Loss

So when I’d finally gotten the kick in the pants I needed, I made an appointment for a hearing test at Living Sounds Hearing Centre where Greg Nedelec is one of the owners. I’ve known Greg’s wife, Ronda, for some time and I ended up talking to Greg at an event and thought, yeah, this is what I need to do, these are great people, this is where I’m going to go.

When my appointment came, I went and I sat with Greg in his office to talk about why I was there and some of the challenges I was having with my hearing and he explained how the hearing tests would work. First he looked in my ears with an otoscope, to make sure there were no blockages in my ears. There weren’t.

Then we headed into the testing room. It’s probably similar to what you would imagine except not as dark and scary. It’s a small vault-like room that you sit in, a soundproof booth really. It’s what we, in radio, call a dead room because sound-wise, there’s nothing live in there at all. You clap your hands and the sound almost vanishes. You can kind of feel it – it’s a heavy quiet that descends on your head.

So I sit down in the chair and Greg puts a little rubber cone onto the end of a tube, that’s attached to a machine in the booth. He explains that the test is going to play sounds that get louder and test how my ear physically reacts to sound. He does my left ear, and then my right, and he makes a couple of notes. Then he put these things in my ears that are like ear buds, hands me a button and moves out of the booth, shutting the door behind him. He sits at a panel outside that I can see through the window.

Greg ran some frequencies and the test was simple. I’d hit the button whenever I heard something. Greg made little marks on a chart and I watched him knowing some of those marks meant I was missing some things. I wanted so badly to pass this test but knew as I was taking it that here were some noises I just wasn’t hearing.

Then we did words. He said similar words, like base and face or thought and sought to see if I could hear the s sound or the th. I repeated the words I heard back to him and, it turns out, many times I was incorrect. I wouldn’t hear the pluralization or the difference between certain letters. It took about 20 minutes, maybe, for the whole test.

When we went back to his office Greg entered some data into his computer and my hearing profile came up on screen, just like that. So there it was, all plotted out, my hearing loss.

It’s severe for some frequencies, and I’d been living with it…for a while. I was surprised. I knew I had a loss, I knew I was having trouble with higher frequencies, but I didn’t know it was quite as bad as it is. It was a little alarming.

But that’s the thing, you live with it so long you don’t realize how bad it is. I was missing more than I even realized. A lot more. Probably lots of other people are missing a lot more than they realize too. Now the real question is why? I don’t know.

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