I found out I was going deaf quite by accident.
As part of the "lets eliminate what could be wrong" process, I had to take Max to have his hearing tested a few years back. The first test we had was a general, high level hearing test. Max sat on my lap and the tester sat on the other side of the glass partition in the sound proof room. On either side of the room were two speakers, on top of which was a toy monkey. She explained to Max that each time he heard a sound come from either monkey, he should turn his head towards the sound.
We sat there for a minute or so while she adjusted her headphones and fiddled with some knobs. And then she looked at us through the glass window. Suddenly Max started turning his head randomly towards the monkey on each side on the top of speaker.
OMG! I thought to myself. The child obviously has bigger problems than we thought! He is wildly turning towards each monkey for no rhyme or reason.
The tester obviously saw my panicked look and said "he is hearing beautifully and responding perfectly to the sounds". What sounds, I said? I don't hear a thing! "That's ok, it happens to many people as they get older" she says.
Great. I had age-related hearing loss. Wonderful. Getting older is an absolute joy.
That was that and I soldiered on with my dodgy hearing.
Last year I had to have Max's hearing retested, this time by a proper hearing clinic (1.5 hours and several hundred rand later) as part of the "lets further eliminate what could be wrong" process. This time I booked a full hearing screen for myself too. (2 hours and several hundred rand later). Max passed with flying colours again whereas I failed fairly notably. The official result: "A sloping mild to moderate high frequency mixed hearing loss was obtained bilaterally". In other words, going deaf in both ears.
Truth be told, I suspected I might have a problem. There are certain people I just cannot hear / understand when they speak. Before going through the full hearing screening, I thought going deaf / losing your hearing meant that everything got softer. That it was like turning the volume down. But it isn't like that, well at least not for me. I can hear most sounds perfectly fine. But there are certain frequencies / voices that I cannot hear at all. All I hear is mumble mumble / white noise / static. I can't make out the individual words. I used to feel ashamed at how often I had to say "excuse me?" but now if I don't hear the first time, I mostly just leave it like that. If it is important, the person will say it again or I will ask them to repeat it.
The Audiologist asked which doctor referred me so that she could send the results to the doctor. I said that I had come there myself and didn't have a referring doctor, however she could send the results to my kids' ENT, as well as emailing the report to me directly as well. Which she did. A week or so later, I get a call from the ENT's office to say the results are with them, and the doctor would like to see me for an appointment. "What do you mean? I have the results myself so I know what is going on". No, apparently the doctor wanted to see me. Now, I really like the doctor, a lot. We have a lot in common and have built up a relationship over the years. So I knew she wouldn't be calling just to waste my time or money. So I went to see her. She explained to me that my hearing loss is fairly significant for someone my age. It is more often associated with someone much older than myself. And it is probably nothing to be worried about, however she has a duty to inform me that there is the very small possibility that the hearing loss could be because of a tumour or growth.
GREAT. I voluntarily go for a hearing test to see whether people are mumbling or I just can't hear and now I might be dying from a cancerous brain tumour.
She said the chances are unlikely it is anything sinister, but in order to be sure I would need a MRI to rule out the tumour issue.
FANTASTIC! Brain cancer and a MRI. Perfect.
I went for the MRI, which is not exactly a very pleasant experience and TG it was all fine. Even though I knew it was probably all fine, I must say I did have a few moments envisioning my funeral proceedings while lying still in that horrible tube.
Bottom line - I have the hearing of an old person. To match my rapidly ailing eyesight. I AM A TOTAL CATCH! Blind and deaf. But at least brain-tumour-free. Glass half full etc.
It's weird, and a little scary actually, to see how your physical capabilities deteriorate as you get older. You can be as young at heart as you wish, but the physical body degenerates according to it's own timetable.
Sigh. Getting older is not for sissies. But it sure beats the alternative.
Now speak up lovey, I can't hear you.