Saturday, January 5, 2013

I didn't hear any beeping

It started slowly.  At work I always held the phone to my left ear with my left hand  so I could keep my right hand free to take notes.    When I had difficulty differentiating between words like fifty and sixty or twenty-three and thirty-three it made it difficult to accurately record telephone numbers and addresses for my client files.  I thought it was the still new to me Canadian accents causing the problem and didn't worry about it.  I simply asked people to repeat themselves, once, twice, or more.

One day, quite by accident, my left hand was occupied and I answered the phone with my free hand, holding the receiver to my right ear.  I was amazed how clearly the voice came through.  I realized that it wasn't other people's speaking, it was my hearing that was off.  I remained unconcerned but changed my way of working and would scrunch my shoulder up to hold the phone to my right ear still leaving my hand free to write.  This created some neck and shoulder pain, but nothing I couldn't massage away.

Later that same winter I felt flu coming on.  Leaving work early, I stopped at Walmart to purchase a new digital thermometer.  I bought the cheapest one I could find. I mean a thermometer is a thermometer, right?  Once home I got into comfy clothes and climbed into bed under warm blankets.  I opened the package and read the instructions, learning that the thermometer would beep and stop flashing when it had measured my temperature.  I placed it beneath my tongue as directed, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  "This was supposed to work faster than a regular thermometer" I thought, and somewhat impatiently removed it from my mouth, only to notice it was not flashing but showing a steady 101.5.  "I guess this cheapest version doesn't have the beep" I thought, pulling the covers tighter against the chills and trying to sleep.

When Rick got home from work he found me still shivering in bed.  I told him about the new thermometer and he said I should try it again.  I did as I was told as he wandered off to the kitchen to try to pull something together for dinner.  Again, I waited.  And waited.  "See, it doesn't beep" I shouted from the bedroom.

"Are you kidding me" Rick called back.  "Its beeping like crazy!"

So maybe there really was something wrong with my hearing.  After recovering from the flu I spent some time taking online hearing tests.  The simple tests showed I was missing sounds both in the highest and lowest ranges.

I assumed this was due to ageing and heredity.  My father had developed hearing issues as he grew older.  I grew used to saying "what?" more often but for years I didn't investigate any further.

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