Several years ago, when the shock of Julia's hearing loss had finally subsided, I decided that I should get my own hearing tested. I'm in the booth with her at every audiology appointment. I can hear most of the whistles played into my daughter's ears, so I figured there wouldn't be any major surprises. Still, I think it's even more important for parents of kids with hearing loss to be proactive about hearing health. If it's important for the child to hear, it's important for the parent to hear. If it's necessary for my child to wear hearing aids, it is necessary for me to wear hearing aids (if needed).
So I called my insurance and an audiologist. I discovered that my insurance, Highmark PPO Blue at the time, did not cover even a basic hearing test. Making an appointment eventually fell off of my to-do list.
Then, a few weeks ago, I walked into my local Sam's Club and found they'd erected a sound proof booth in the front of the store. "Hearing test, No cost, No obligation" says the flyer. I stuffed one in my purse and promptly waited another two weeks to make an appointment.
They say it takes several reminders to get human beings to do anything. It was finally an email from the Hearing Health Foundation that got me to make that appointment. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. HealthyHearing.com is donating $1 (for a total donation of up to $10,000) for each person that will pledge online to get their hearing tested. Funds raised support the research of the hearing restoration project.
When I finally made it back to Sam's Club for my own hearing test, it took a total of fifteen minutes. Carilynn, the audiologist, asked me a list of questions. She put a little video camera thing into each ear to check my ear drum. I now have a picture of both inner ears. Inner ears aren't cute, but Carilynn says mine are beautiful. I was expecting the wax, but I have to say I'm a bit put off by photographic proof of all that ear hair!
I went into the booth and pushed a button for each sound I heard. More in depth testing would be done if a person needed to be fitted for hearing aids. My test was the short version.
My audiogram revealed that I have a slight hearing loss at the lowest frequency. Carilynn thinks this might be from noise exposure (perhaps auto racing). It won't cause a problem unless I start to lose the higher frequencies as well.
I showed off my audiogram at home that evening. Julia wasn't very interested. Tim was surprised that the little bit of track time we've had could have damaged my ears. We'll never really know, but noise-induced hearing loss only takes one time. Once the hair cells die, there's no bringing them back, yet.
But with just a few minutes of your time, you can contribute $1 to research that might someday bring back hair cells. Take the pledge. Carilynn at the Pittsburgh Mills Sam's Club is very nice. She'll test you for free even if you're not a Sam's Club member (call 724-274-1748 for an appointment Tuesday through Saturday 10am-6pm). Or find a Sam's Club hearing aid center using their web site. Do it for your health. Do it for magic ear kids like Julia. Just do it!