I had my ear, nose and throat appointment on Wednesday last week. I think I mentioned back when I endured my annual physical and tried to remember to report to Dr. Bill all the little things I had noticed about my increasing decrepitude that he had referred me to a specialist for the tinnitus (and recommended that I visit an ophthalmologist about the “glittering eye” events he suspected correctly were ocular migraines — sheesh, what a year).
Although last Wednesday was a cold day, barely edging the mercury above ten degrees Fahrenheit, I put on a thermal shirt and my warmest Guinness hoodie to walk in the brilliant (if unwarming) sunshine the three-quarters of a mile to the hospital, Jimi Hendrix in the earphones from my iPod (donʼt know why exactly — West Coast Seattle Boy, perhaps? — But Iʼve been on a real Hendrix kick, again, lately). I have realized in the past few winters that I like hoodies because I can keep warm by putting up the hood — interestingly a style choice I have never seen a teen-to-twentysomething ever perform. However, for my walk to the doctor, I also elected to wear the head-wrap ear covers I use when running along with my favorite Alaska souvenir, my (by now well worn) Alaskan Amber cap, to protect the sometimes fragile eyesight from the sunbrightness I also ironically cherish. My elaborate costume worked. I was only somewhat chilled as I entered JCRHC and began the leisurely removal of the insulating garments. Then I noticed a sign indicating where visitors were to go for the various visiting physicians that day, and I headed off into the labyrinth of hospital corridors — fortunately on a familiar route for me.
I had arrived early, not my usual system with doctors as I kind of resent being forced to wait at appointments, but five minutes before my actual time, I got ushered within the outpatient surgery bay (thatʼs where Dr. Benda, who only visits from Dubuque once a week, had been located; itʼs also where the lipoma got removed back in late September and where I received my colonoscopy two years back — hmmm, getting altogether too familiar with this questionable location). The nurse/assistant gave me a hearing test, which I figured I had utterly failed, but both she and (later) Dr. Benda were very positive about my results (perhaps I need to keep from Janet the knowledge that I havenʼt lost very much of my hearing). The principal test, involving both spoken words and electronic beeps, required me to wear big headphones (a lot like the ones I had for my old stereo, which I actually still do have, somewhat larger than the moderately sound-canceling Sony ones* I acquired a while back at Samʼs). The left ear-cover was red, as were the wires to that speaker set, while the right was blue (I suppose it does matter that the signals to each ear be kept absolutely correct in a hearing test — color-coded to prevent mistakes). The audiometrist also clamped a device to my forehead and behind my left ear for further beep-sensing.
Then for almost an hour I got to sit and attempt to write (I had foolishly only brought my little red notebook and no paperback to read when I left the house afoot). Eventually, as another guy needed to get audiometrized, I got shifted into the doctor. There our conversation and the examination (both ears took maybe three seconds — “good, good, very good” — while shoving objects down my throat because of Dr. Billʼs concerns about my hoarseness — results also, “okay, good, nothing: no polyps or nodules” — required only a few minutes, conversation accumulating only about seven minutes more) went very fast, mostly focusing on perhaps using white/pink noise to mask the tinnitus when relaxing to sleep or needing to concentrate, as I have done, without even realizing it, with a fan at night for years and playing music as I try to write. He didnʼt seem to think there was much to worry about, and except for the fact the supernatural, internal celestial rasping has grown louder through the year, neither do I. I bundled myself back up, including reattaching headphones-with-iPod, and strolled back home (the sum total of exercise for last Wednesday, I shamefacedly admit), further enjoying the glorious sunlight, one more visit to one more doctor completed for this year of transition between the Aughties and the Teens (I was one of those sticklers at the millennium insisting the actual change shouldnʼt be counted until the midnight between 2000 and 2001 — one too many readings and viewing of the Clarke and Clarke/Kubrick classic[s], I suppose).
Overall result: no problems, ears okay, throat okay. Nothing changes.
Now I wonder… How much that grand total of less than a half hour of personal contact with audiometrist, nurse and doctor will cost?
* I am wearing them right now, attached to the computer, hearing Warren Zevon do “Excitable Boy,” live on Stand in the Fire, as I type, as a matter of fact. On the other hand, I find that I can work equally well in what passes within my head for silence.
I think, since I must head outside now (Saturday afternoon for typing this) to shovel snow during our weekend blizzard, that weʼre back on winter decorations for Wednesday (as I already have tomorrow covered with some more utter nonsense from real life).