by, 10-02-2009 at 12:14 AM (9268 Views)
This morning I had to complete my annual physical at work and I had to retake the hearing test. I had failed it a few weeks ago, which is not unusual since it's tricky test. I'll explain. They sit you in this sound proof booth. It's almost like a vertical coffin with a seat. A tall person would probably hit his head at the top. It's kind of like you're in a box. They put these head phones on and they shut the door. Your breathing and your movement is the only sound in the room. They send these series of beeps through the head phones, varying pitches and loudness, sometimes in the left ear, sometimes in the right. Every time there is a beep you are supposed to click a button that acknowledges you heard it.
Ok, I'm in there, they shut the door and the beeps are coming through. When the loudness of the pitches get really low you have to hold your breath or it will over power the sound of the beep. That's why this test is so tricky. So I’m clicking away. I always feel insecure about this. First I have failed this a few times, but I’ve always passed on retakes. Second my wife insists I’m losing my hearing. She drills this into me every day like a jack hammer. “You’re losing your hearing.” “You’re deaf.” “Can’t you hear me?” Why is the TV that loud, can’t you hear?” “Lower that, you deaf person.” It’s no wonder I’m nervous every time I can’t quite hear something. But then again other people don’t hear things sometimes, including my wife. Objectively I don’t see a difference between my hearing and the next person’s, and it’s only that I enjoy the radio and TV volume louder than others, and much louder than my wife. I swear it’s a volume comfort level, not deafness. Anyway that’s what I tell my wife or anyone that wants to listen. But inside I do wonder if I’m losing my hearing.
I’m clicking away and it’s the usual, did I really hear that, did I imagine that beep (that starts to happen after a few minutes of straining), did my breath just over power that. Last year I started clicking away like a mad man at every imagined beep. Finally the tester opened the door and asked what I was doing, hallucinating? So I knew I couldn’t just click without being sure. So I’m clicking. I think I’m doing ok but every so often it feels like I missed one. Darn I say to myself, I’m gonna really fail this. My wife will be so satisfied that finally there’s proof of my deafness. And the test is going on. And it feels so much longer than other years. It usually takes ten minutes but I must now be up to fifteen or twenty. And it’s cycling through. So I’m now thinking, I must be failing this and they want to recycle the test to really be sure. And I’m getting more nervous. I got to get this right, and the more nervous I get, the faster my breathing. In fact I’m hearing my breath now faster and louder and I’m sure I’m screwing up even more. I start gambling, clicking when I only suspect a beep. What the heck at this point.
And the test is going on. It’s now cycling through for the fourth time I think. God it’s over a half hour. I must really be screwing up. And now I’m beginning to doze off, those quick sudden shut of the eyes for a fraction of a second and where the brain just shuts itself off and as you then tip forward you quickly snap out of it. I’ve now done that a few times and I’m thinking, oh sh*t, now I’m missing them for sure. My results will really suck. And I’m forcing myself to stay awake. What the heck is going on here? This is way over a half hour now, and I bet I’m slowly getting asphyxiated. Is air even getting into this thing. So I decide I better just get out of this if I can. And before I check for the handle, they open the door.
I’m ready to be chastised, and then I decide if they’re going to complain I’m just going to have to get angry. But the technician who opens the door is not the one that put me inside and was running the test. And she looks at me strange. And there’s another person who apparently is to be tested behind her.
“Oh,” she says. “You’re still in here.”
“Huh” I mutter back.
“Oh, you must have been left in here.”
“Oh, there was a little emergency and that other person had to leave.”
"It was an emergency."
"So how did I do?”
“Let me see.” And she looks at the computer screen. "Oh, you passed.”