It’s here, the day I get to find out if I’m eligible for a BAHA.
As I walk towards the hospital my stomach is in knots, and a sense of dread washes over me. Like most people I hate hospitals, the smell is just unsettling. We find the ENT department fine and I hand in my letter in return for a pager which I’m told will buzz when they’re ready. I sit down and look around. There’s a young boy, no older than 14 sitting opposite who has a BAHA, my first thoughts are sympathetic as he’s so young, which are quickly replaced by ‘he’s lucky, I didn’t have that choice when I was younger’ (resentment?) and then to ‘actually was it a choice, or did he have to have it’ (back to sympathy?) and I resign myself to the fact that whatever his story he looks happy, and stop myself pondering.
The buzzer goes off, its loud (for obvious reasons!) and I jump. I’m told to sit in the next room for my hearing text. Great, here we go again, let’s see how epically I fail the test this time.
Rob is with me for moral support, but for me it’s more so he can fully understand why I’m thinking of a solution like this. You can’t really explain how deaf you are to someone when its single sided because you can hear them most of the time and there’s nothing to bench mark it from.
The really stylish oversized earmuffs are on my head. It’s not a good look as my cheeks are all squished. Nice.
“Press the button when you hear the beep”
Beep …..beep…beep…. nothing.
But I can tell Rob has heard it by his face. And I strain to hear more. Nothing.
Then, she adds ‘interference’ noise to mimic a busy background and repeats. Same again.
This goes on for a good 15 -20 minutes and my head is banging!
She explains about my hearing result, nothing I haven’t heard before (no pun intended) and then pops a small headband on me. The test is repeated except this time my left ear isn’t covered. And I hear the beeps.
Again and again. Weird.
I look at Rob and smile as if to get reassurance that she is beeping the machine and he smiles back. Ok – this just got interesting.
Back in the waiting area and Rob tells me there are two people nearby talking about the BAHA, it’s the young boy again and an older man. But I can’t hear what they are saying. There’s a buzz about the place, not your usual nervous tension in a hospital, more like happy anticipation?
Mr Johnson calls me in. Standard questions with the usual answers, young child, suspected mumps, hate noisy places, can’t hear male voices, struggle in public places…..then he says ‘why now?’ and my eyes start to well up as I’m telling him it’s because if I have children I want to hear them. Then without warning as I’m still talking he puts a slightly different headband on me and continues to talk. I’m listening really carefully, but its making no difference, nothing is louder….
Then he spins my chair around
“can you hear me?”
“Yes….and you’re talking to my deaf side”
I feel sick
“I’m not being rude, but I need you to face the wall”
He spins my chair to face the corner of the room – there’s now 4 people behind me and I can’t see them, no mirrors, no reflection, nothing to help me cheat and lip read, and I get that deep pit of my stomach dread that I won’t hear, the same feeling I always get when I panic if I can’t see who’s talking because I can’t locate noise .
“say something to her”
And I hear Robs voice…… “she’ll shout at me if I talk to her bad side”
I spin the chair round and say “eeee no I won’t!” – but I spin to the left. Because I heard him on my left.
My head is spinning, I blurt out “does that mean I can hear stereo?!” he spins my chair so my good ear is away from him again “you tell me”… ….and I smile, and through my tears, he smiles back.
The rest is a blur of questions about surgery, upgrades, mobile apps, aftercare and before I know it I’m leaving the hospital with a trial version (the headband) to keep for two weeks and a follow up appointment.
A few hours later when I’m alone I decide to put the headband back on and turn some music on. Ironically its a song called Titanium, I’ve heard it loads of times before but not like this. Not in stereo. Is this what its meant to be like? Is this ‘normal’ hearing?
I can’t explain it, it’s weird…….. and a few songs later I take the headband off.
This is going to take a lot of getting used to.