by, 10-01-2009 at 11:14 PM (8085 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 Iím clicking away. I always feel insecure about this. First I have failed this a few times, but Iíve always passed on retakes. Second my wife insists Iím losing my hearing. She drills this into me every day like a jack hammer. ďYouíre losing your hearing.Ē ďYouíre deaf.Ē ďCanít you hear me?Ē Why is the TV that loud, canít you hear?Ē ďLower that, you deaf person.Ē Itís no wonder Iím nervous every time I canít quite hear something. But then again other people donít hear things sometimes, including my wife. Objectively I donít see a difference between my hearing and the next personís, and itís only that I enjoy the radio and TV volume louder than others, and much louder than my wife. I swear itís a volume comfort level, not deafness. Anyway thatís what I tell my wife or anyone that wants to listen. But inside I do wonder if Iím losing my hearing.
Iím clicking away and itís 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 couldnít just click without being sure. So Iím clicking. I think Iím doing ok but every so often it feels like I missed one. Darn I say to myself, Iím gonna really fail this. My wife will be so satisfied that finally thereís 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 itís cycling through. So Iím now thinking, I must be failing this and they want to recycle the test to really be sure. And Iím getting more nervous. I got to get this right, and the more nervous I get, the faster my breathing. In fact Iím hearing my breath now faster and louder and Iím sure Iím 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. Itís now cycling through for the fourth time I think. God itís over a half hour. I must really be screwing up. And now Iím 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. Iíve now done that a few times and Iím thinking, oh sh*t, now Iím missing them for sure. My results will really suck. And Iím forcing myself to stay awake. What the heck is going on here? This is way over a half hour now, and I bet Iím 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.
Iím ready to be chastised, and then I decide if theyíre going to complain Iím 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 thereís another person who apparently is to be tested behind her.
ďOh,Ē she says. ďYouíre still in here.Ē
ďHuhĒ I mutter back.
ďOh, you must have been left in here.Ē
ďOh, there was a little emergency and that other person had to leave.Ē
"It was an emergency."
"So how did I do?Ē
ďLet me see.Ē And she looks at the computer screen. "Oh, you passed.Ē