Earnie got her hearing aids last week. Over the last year, Miss Bee has been administering her own brand of hearing test to see if Earnie’s hearing is getting worse. She sits in the back of the van and very quietly says “Grandmother”. Miss Bee continues this routine until it is said at a decibel heard on Earnie’s level. It’s quite scientific.
When we took Earnie a few weeks ago to her initial screening exam, the audiologist asked if we’d like to be apart of the hearing test to see what it would be like for Earnie. If Miss Bee were a homeschooler — she would have gotten extra credit in learning the anatomy of the ear drum because they stuck this camera in Earnie’s ear and projected it on a screen. As I suspected, she had a giant ball of wax in her ear, which only made Miss Bee nauseous. For having a nurse as a mother, she’s awfully squeamish.
Then it was the isolation booth — like they have at the Miss America Pageant (I secretly always wanted to be in an isolation booth!). The audiologist sat in in the next room behind a window with her mouth hidden so Earnie couldn’t have any visual cues and had to rely on just hearing the words. So for about 20 minutes all Miss Bee and I heard was…Say bat, say fat, say noisy, say dog, say cheese, say chalk, say fly, say oink, say milk, say bird, say fish, say wash, say wax, and this went on and on and on.
Some of the words Earnie got, but most she missed. Earnie is a really good sport and laughs at herself all the time, which is good, because I laugh at her too. Miss Bee and I were trying real hard to not laugh. But when they started the part where “when you hear the ringing tone raise your hand” we almost had to leave the booth because the ringing was so loud and to the point of making our ears bleed, but Earnie still had that look on her face like “no, I don’t hear ringing.”
Once fitted with her new, sporty hearing aids the audiologist explained that the volume would need to be adjusted a little at a time over the next several appointments. Her brain has become so accustomed to not hearing words that she will have to learn sounds again. When we walked out of the place into the parking lot, Earnie looked like Helen Keller from the movie when she learned how to sign “water” to Miss Sullivan. You could tell Earnie was hearing sounds she’d been missing for a long time. It was really quite sweet.
On the way home Earnie told Miss Bee and me the story of how she took her own mother (we called her Little Tiny Grandmother because she was, well really little) to get hearing aids. Back then they were not as technologically sophisticated so the devices were the size of a deck of cards that you had to stick in your front pocket, or in my grandmother’s case, in her undergarment. Earnie said the first time Grandmother heard the sound of water running out of the faucet she was annoyed at how loud it was.
As we were passing a Braums Earnie said let’s go there and get something cold. Miss Bee ordered a hot-fudge sundae, I got a large cherry limeade — the best I ever had — even better than Sonic. Earnie, well, she got oatmeal.