Letters on the Wall

It was my sophomore year of college that my hearing rapidly declined in the right ear at the beginning of the Spring semester. I was ordered a hearing test and having been a while since I had one last, I met my new audiologist. He was deaf, had cochlear implants in both ears and wore hearing aids. His assistant ran the tests.

As the “press-the-button-when-you-hear-the-beep” test started, I found myself in tears. A little embarrassed as the audiologist enters, I start to apologize and he kindly interrupts: “There is no pass or fail in this test…” It is the best medical advice I have ever received and I think in part that in coming from him, being deaf and knowing first-hand, made it not seem like a fake sentiment.

I’ve repeated that sentence to myself many times: at my last ever audiology appointment, where I beard nothing in the left ear; when doctors do the strength tests, “Don’t let me squeeze your fingers together” or watch me walk the hall. And the most recent: visual field tests and the letter chart on the wall. I suppose if I grew up playing Nintendo, I would find visual field tests more fun; I find holding the test button just as hard as trying to keep my eye focused on the orange light spotted in the middle of what my eye views.

I know my right eye has decreased since June, but it wasn’t until yesterday when I was reading the shown letter on the mirror on the wall that I realized how much I have been letting it slack. I know the greyness and bind spots are not cause of my slackness, but I am supposed to try to keep my eyes fixed straight ahead as possible and I have not–I am letting my right eye be lazy. Even if I were doing a better job at keeping it straight, my reading has still been effected greatly. My eye used to be near 20/20. Now I can read “E” and “HB”…then I start squinting. It’s not fair really–who puts “DO” together? 😉

My left eye has always been one for frustrations in this test, so no initial shock when I start squinting too after the annual, “HB.” The assistant shows a new slide, where I see an “A.” I think capital “A’s”are pretty distinct. But I am also seeing a large “O” that is heavier outlined on the bottom than by the pointy tip of the “A.” No pass or fail, I remark, “I know this is serious and I shouldn’t be joking around, but this looks like a baby penguin’s face.” Because it did! I had already talked aloud that it was either an “A” or an “O,” so at least they knew I was trying. I was half right,”DOAF.” Good grief. 🙂

The surgeon and his assistant come in and mostly talk to my Mom as I have been going without my glasses (they make me dizzy sick.) I get a few clues from hand motions: they were chatting about my leg, last year’s blood clot and my eye. Later the assistant fills me in: basically, the infection needs to heal, as they don’t want it entering the blood stream and getting to the eye. There is also the fact that I am on blood thinner pills. It was not an issue for the cataract surgery. However, for this right eye surgery, I have to follow the procedures of preparing for the surgery and change from pills back to the shots, until pills again in post-surgery. My doctor will regulate this, as they also don’t want me to get another blood clot.

The surgeon is hoping maybe the end of next week, but there are no certainties. And as I started to immediately try to plan and think of all the details of money and insurance and other family member’s upcoming appointments, Mom just tells me not to worry…I do’t have to worry.

It’s a reminder, like “No pass or fail in this test…” that I must believe.


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5 responses to “Letters on the Wall

  1. Praying for you every day Melinda. Saw your mom and dad at church today and told them to give you a squeeze for me. Love you.

  2. A. B.

    Thank you for this reminder Mel. I love your writings. They make me feel like we don’t live so many miles apart. I am praying for the infection to get better.

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