I was standing in a long line waiting to pick up a prescription from Kaiser. Mila was in my arms. She has those darling cheeks that brings on kisses from everyone. So, I’m kissing her and kissing her and kissing her. The old man in front of me turns around and says with a gentle smile, “Oh, I kept hearing this kissing sound. I had to turn around to see what was going on.” Something inside of me froze. I was amazed that kissing a child could be loud. Such a simple act that apparently makes a lot of noise. Now that I became aware of noisy kissing is, I also became so conscious and started to gently and quietly kiss my babe.I Dang it! Kissing her softly is just not the same as giving her a full blown on kiss on the cheeks. I’m not sure if I like all these sounds~ it seems somewhat invasive. I mean, you can hear a person peeing as you pee in a public bathroom and now, you can hear people kissing!?! There’s really a lack of privacy with these sounds, I tell ya.
Okay, it’s TCAP time! Oh, what’s that you say? TCAP? Of course, Transitional Colorado Assessment Performance~ the once a year test test that the entire country is supposed to take and that one test determines whether or not you’ve done a good job as a teacher 😉
Anyhow, I’ve been proctoring in a tiny, windowless room at least twice a day for a minimum of one hour each but often that one hour turns into more than an hour. I’m the proctor that reads an entire assessment and gives extra time for those who qualify for accommodations. As I read, there’s echoing. There’s one student that I see every day~ just me and him. He gets really, really exhausted after the test and the requirement is that he must sit there, even if he finishes before the “60 minute testing session has ended”. He cannot read (school policy) after he finishes the test. What’s left to do? Sit and stare at the clock (like me) or go to sleep. This kid is lucky. He gets to sleep. He’s already a heavy breather. But, yes, but when he sleeps, he becomes an even heavier breather. It echos and echos between the walls. I’d imagine that this is what Darth Vader sounds like when he tries to breathe through the mask. It’s tortuous for me. Breathe heavily in, breathe heavily out, in and out, in and out as I wish the clock would hurry up and finish that 60 minutes testing session!
My mama told me this story.
She: “A funny thing happened to me recently. Someone called me and this is what I kept hearing, “This is Tiger Hearing calling you.” I kept repeating the word tiger several times. I was so confused. And then it suddenly occurred to me that it was Kaiser calling me to set up an appointment to get my hearing checked. Ah, it’s Kaiser Hearing Center, not Tiger Hearing Center.”
See mom, now you know, all the different ways I hear and how I mishear things!
It took about three different, yet painful times to finally get the result. I dreaded returning to the hearing testing room a little more each time. Trying to keep a baby asleep while the audiologist pokes something in each of Mila’s ears, roughly using rubbing alcohol on her forehead so the sensors that read brainwaves will stick. And, when she wakes, I must nurse her back to sleep. Every time she sleeps, I hold my breath in hopes that she doesn’t wake up. Holding my breath does not work, without a fail, she wakes up. If she doesn’t wake up on her own, something will wake her up like, the ear plugs will fall out (which it does, very often) and it needs to be re-inserted. That wakes the baby. Then, audiologist gets frustrated which gets me anxious and the cycle continues. The bottom line is: SHE MUST BE ASLEEP OTHERWISE THE TEST IS NOT VALID. Why, oh why in this day and age of fancy technology haven’t they created something hi-tech to put in her ears to stay the whole time? Anyhow, it took three visits. None of them fun.
Oh yes, the final result? She can hear perfectly in her left ear and absolutely nothing in her right ear. What does that mean then? It means that hearing aids will not work for her right ear. The only other possible option is the cochlear implant…but,insurance will not cover that. Their philosophy is: She can hear in one ear and that’s good enough. Our biggest concern was~ and I say was because it really is in the past tense~ will hearing out of one ear affect her speech? According to research, it varies from individual to individual. Sometimes, having a unilateral hearing loss can affect speech, sometimes it doesn’t. MIla has the gift of the gab. She babbles from the minute she wakes up til the minute she falls asleep. According to speech milestones, she’s far ahead of her peers. So, that’s solved.
So, Mila is somewhat like~ she doesn’t have perfect hearing. But, it’s certainly way better than mine and she will have a completely different experience than I will have.
As of now, there’s nothing to worry about. School, on the other hand, is another wait and see. The noise in the classroom could make her tire easily which could affect her academics. We’ve got time to worry about that. We are staying in the here and now which is making the whole family squeal with delight right along with her.
I get the phone call from Kaiser. It was the audiologist reminding me that we need to follow-up with Mila’s hearing. That was it. There was no explanation of any sort~ just show up with the baby.
I thought it would be a simple and short visit.
I was wrong.
“The baby has to be asleep,” the audiologist said.
Baffled. “The baby has to be asleep?” I wonder. The baby just woke up from a nap.
I asked, “Why?”
She explained, “So the computer can read only her brainwaves.”
This just isn’t making any sense. Say what? Even though I have a hearing loss, I haven’t a clue how they screen for hearing loss, let alone on a baby who can’t tell an audiologist whether or not she “heard” a sound in the sound booth.
Ok. “I’ll have to nurse her and maybe she’ll go back to sleep,” I tell her in a hopeless tone. It is my understanding that most babies fall asleep after nursing. Mine doesn’t. She lets me know that she’ll be back in 10 minutes. I’m left alone, sitting on the straightest back chair ever, extremely high armrests, and so little cushioning. I’m supposed to nurse my daughter in this kind of unfriendly environment? I do. Mila does fall asleep. The audiologist comes back in. Then she starts pulling out wires~ though friendly, but not explaining to me what she’s doing. I mean, wires here, wires there all coming from different directions. “They had wires attached to your head…” mama tells me when doctors were trying to figure out whether or not I had a hearing loss as well. I can’t help but wonder how my mother felt when she saw all these wires on her daughter’s head. Anyhow, she take wipes that is rubbing alcohol and rubs it pretty roughly on my sleeping daughter’s forehead and behind her ears. She tells me that it cleans the area that will be taped. I’m surprised that the baby didn’t wake up.
She puts the wires that has very small sponge at the end in each of Mila’s ear. And tapes several wires on the forehead. All the while, still not explaining to me what the purpose of each movement is. This is what Mila looks like after being connected to the wires.
After putting all the wires on the baby, the audiologist went back to the computer. It’s still semi-dark. There’s a blue hue on her face from the computer. Silence. Nothing. She has all kinds of facial expressions~ none I can quite figure out. There are a lot of little details, so I’m going to get straight to the end of this appointment. By the time she started testing Mila’s right ear, there was such a look of worry on her face, Mila woke up. I tried and tried to get her to go back to sleep. No luck. Tension is high for me. She tells me two things: One, from what’s she’s gathered thus far, even though the test is not finished, Mila’s right ear is not picking up on any sound. Two, testing often takes more than one tries.
I tried to get more information.
I asked, “Let’s say, hypothetically, that Mila has severe to profound hearing loss, what happens next?” She explains that she doesn’t want to make any conclusions until she has completed the test thoroughly. That makes sense. But, I was finding it really hard to leave without more answers, especially because I was told so little during the whole testing. I mean, I just sat in the dark, watching her expression and hoping that the baby wouldn’t wake up. This all happened in a span of two hours (I think).
I left with so little information. Not a very comfortable feeling for a mother.