They must have done grade wide hearing tests when I was in kindergarten, maybe grade 1. We’ll say, for argument’s sake, that I was 5 when it was discovered that I am partially deaf in one ear. Not just a little deaf – fully deaf above a certain frequencies – say, a young girl’s voice, or a flute. I can hear it on the right, but the left ear registers nothing. I was 5, and they had no idea why this happened, or any indication before the test that there was a problem. Of course, as soon as this was discovered there were more tests to be done. Years more tests. In fact, every several years, or after a string of bad ear infections, I still go in to be tested. Most of the tests were performed at a local school that had the city’s deaf program. They had a full sound booth testing facility there and once a year I’d get a half day off school to go sit in a metal bank vault, basically, and hit the button when I could hear the noise, and other such fun tests.
But one test stands out in my mind.
It was one of the first tests, and I had to go to the Children’s Hospital. I remember a darkened room, and electrodes glued to my head. (I also remember picking the glue out of my hairline later that afternoon, while playing in the backyard.) I remember the doctor’s telling me what a good girl I was, and how grown up, and how nice it was to work with me, because how they usually worked on 2 month (year?) old babies. I remember the toy – the Roly Poly Chime Ball – and talking about how I had one of those when I was a baby, with all the superiority of a 5 year old. But the memory of being a big girl and not a baby and how much the nice doctors liked me lingered, long after the rest.
Which made it a bit funny for me, on Monday, as I walked my two month old daughter in to the same hospital. Sure, it’s no longer the city’s children’s hospital, now just a variety of specialist clinics, but it’s still the same building. And the same darkened rooms, and the same kind doctors. Only, this time, there were no toys, and it was my baby getting electrodes taped to her head. (Adhesives now, not glue.)
She was a champ, falling asleep part way through the testing after only a little fussing. She has, as far as they can tell from the brain activity, not inherited any of hearing loss. Which is excellent news. We knew she wasn’t deaf – she responds to loud noises – but as she still doesn’t react much to voices, there was still a little doubt. Plus, unless I told you, you would have no idea that my hearing loss is severe enough that I had access to all sorts of disability support through school. (I only ever used two – speech therapy in elementary school, and the ability to write my departmental exams on the computer for my grade 12 classes. Why not? My spelling and handwriting are terrible – given the chance to have spell check on my big exams was worth it.)
But walking in to that building again, to take my baby for the same tests I recall myself? I can feel the cycles…