The year has barely started and already I find myself heading up towards the city on a familiar route. Beside me sits Twin Boy, fidgeting in excitement, delighted to be out of school on his third day back. It is the first trip of 2014 to the hospital, four more are already scheduled in for this month. At times I feel I may be a walking advertising for not having three children.
Twin Boy is having his hearing testing, following surgery late last year. He had a test before Christmas in a loud, doctors surgery, where he was asked to pick up a toy duck and plane as the woman mouthed the words behind her palm. He aced it, I experienced momentary happiness as I thought his ears were ‘better’, till we got in the car and told me that he had guessed the answers as the test was the same as before and when the woman said ‘duck’ it really sound like ‘f***’.
The kid doesn’t hear well, but he ain’t daft.
So here we are again, twitching in a waiting room I know quite well, waiting for his name to be called and him not to hear it.
The test begins, and he fights to stay still on a chair that swivels temptingly. Halfway through the silence it becomes too much for him and he launches the chair 360 degrees, causing him to almost be strangled by the headphone wire that is now tangled around him. The ENT technician swallows a smile and tries to reprimand him slightly, he grins, and lifts one ear phone and comments,
“What you say? I can’t hear you?”
The test is complete, the results slightly better than before the operation, but still well outside of normal range; it would seem he really can’t hear me when I cry we are late for school.
We go back to the waiting room, he pretends to do his homework, I pretend to read my book, we wait to see the consultant.
His name is called, again he doesn’t hear it, we go and see the consultant, he tells us he is pleased that the grommits look like they are preventing any further collapse of the ear drum. Inside it looks better, he says reassuring, no more damage has happened since the operating table.
But, the deafness?
The hearing loss is probably from tiny bones that have broken over time, that grommits cannot repair. I look at my son in amazement, not known for delicacy I am amazed that he has something as tiny as a hearing bone broken inside him. And of course, I feel the usual stab of parental guilt for not noticing his hearing loss sooner.
The consultant continues, the hearing loss may return following more surgery as he gets older, it may get worse, it is a vast unknown for the next couple of years, a real test being when the grommits fall out – will the ear collaspe again? Will the deafness increase?
I hear the phrase ‘hearing aids’ and realise it is now time to get them fitted.
I question inside my own head, why I find glasses acceptable but the thought of hearing aids makes me want to weep. I remember a kid at school, bullied for being different, bullied for wearing artificial aids behind her ears, and I recall how unkind people can be.
But still, the thought of not having to bellow to make myself heard has its appeals.
Twin Boy is delighted, he chooses the colours of his hearing aids and loves every second of the attention of two medical students and a specialist. He bounds out of hospital, clutching his letters for his next two appointments tightly to his chest. I follow wearily afterwards, cross with myself for being such a grump.
My head has an argument of the usual style, I have three healthy kids who have a range of conditions, some curable, some not, some with a lasting legacy. But, they are all fit and well, bright and loved. Yet, we go to hospital it seems, weekly, I used to have a good job, it has become unsustainable due to the amount of times I have to pop to school, nip to the GP, see a consultant. I become exhausted in hospital waiting rooms, and struggle to adjust to this kind of normal.
As I said, I am cross with myself for being such a grump, when all around me I see so much worse.
But then like in any times of weariness, the lad can cheer me, as he bounced into the car he turned to me with a grin and said,
“Mummy, you know those wallies that ask if Molly and I are identical twins?”
“Yes” I answer,
“Well, now we can tell them that she is the one with her pancreas on her belt, and I am the one with my hearing bones on the outside, that should help them out!”
Thanks be to the boy who can find a silver lining.