After a six week stint of very little activity, Julia and I had a big Thursday. She had magic ear school and an audiologist appointment. Then in the evening I had to go to a transitional meeting to switch her hearing support services from preschool to kindergarten. It was an epic day in the context of our typical home-bound winter schedule.
It goes without saying that I had contracted a cold earlier in the week. I do, in fact, get sick each time I leave my house. I was buzzing on Mucinex with ironic drowsiness mixed in.
Mentally prepared for a quick audiologist appointment where we filled out a form and talked a little, I was already surprised that we were having a hearing test in the booth. The appointment was to order an FM system for our home since the county will take theirs back this summer. I hadn't prepared Julia to do work. I got the stink eye.
An attempt was made at getting Julia to wear the ear insert do-hickeys that she hates. She got her favored headphones back in pretty short order. After each word the audiologist wanted her to identify she turned to me and said, "these are hurting me!" I can't imagine how they hurt her, but the audiologist went back to the headphones. Even imaginary plight can be distracting from sound identification tasks.
Her picture identification is usually strong and steady. I've watched her do this test numerous times and she's a pro. The audiologist says a word, Julia points to the picture, they move on. This day, it was WHAT? HUH? WHAT IS SHE SAYING?
Then it was time for the test where Julia is required to feed a toy animal when she hears a sound. It was exciting this time because a new bunny needed fed realistic looking carrots. Previous tests have used cardboard cutout foods. Julia kept turning around and asking me if I heard the sound. "I didn't hear the sound. Did you hear the sound?"
I didn't hear the sound. It is not played for the benefit of the audience. There was no way to communicate this to my child when she wasn't wearing hearing aids and had big headphones over her ears. I did some strange pantomime and willed her to finish the test.
We went in to get an FM and came out feeling pretty certain Julia has lost 10-15 dB of hearing across the three middle frequencies. This means we're looking at a 70 dB loss in the middle frequencies. Prior to this appointment we were 50-55 dB at all frequencies. Her hearing aids were reprogrammed.
By the next day, Julia had the cold. Her hearing was still very poor even with the added amplification. And even though she'd had a tympanogram and her ears were clear the previous day, I still can't let go of those 10 dB. I'm still hoping they'll come back in the spring. I'm still hoping it's ear wax. I can't let go of the denial even though this isn't the first test that has revealed this extra loss.
By the next week our lives returned to normal. Her hearing seems okay. I'm now waiting on the report to see if it will say "fluctuating" or "progressive" or maybe just "severe". None are words I wanted to see.
Other posts on childhood hearing can be found on the hearing loss page.