Hearing test

I saw an “otolaryngology” doctor at UW to see if anything can help my vertigo. As part of that, I had some interesting hearing tests. I was put in a chair in a tiny, extremely quiet soundproof room. First, with headphones on my head, a device in the next room with the audiologist issued a series of beeps at different pitches and volumes in my right ear, then left ear. I was frustrated and kept wanting to tell her “turn it up, it’s too hard!” I had to say “yes” every time I heard the tones, but the sound of my own breathing or swallowing would drown them out. It seemed to go on for a long time without much opportunity to breathe normally or swallow.

Next, via the earphones, she said a bunch of words that I had to repeat, and they got softer and softer. They were all compound words like “greyhound.” That test was less anxiety-provoking.

Then the funniest one, a recording of a man’s voice. He kept saying, “Say the word ____.” And I had to repeat the word only. He talked fast and the words ran together like in a normal conversation, so although he wasn’t very quiet, I had to listen carefully. It felt more like a lesson in listening than like a hearing test. There was a noticeable pattern to the words he said: first a bunch that ended in vowels, then ending in consonants, then in consonants like r or n, then some plurals, then some that ended in soft consonants like F or TH. When the audiologist came back in the room, I told her I wanted to “say the word bossy” after repeating after the recorded man and his commanding tone. She then seemed to be in a big hurry and was not amused.

After that, I think (I’m not sure of the order), she tested bone conduction hearing, where I had something other than headphones on my head. I didn’t see what it looked like but it pressed into the base of my skull. I heard the beeps. There were long pauses during all the sets of beeps, and I thought, oh no, I am as deaf as a rock, but it turned out I scored 100% on the tests involving words, and totally normal and symmetrical on hearing the beeps. She said I have no sign of age-related hearing loss. I’m glad to find out I still have a chance to protect my hearing for the future.

The doctor’s maneuver could not induce my vertigo, just like my regular doctor could not. But if I got in bed and lay down, I’d have it, and again when I got up. Or if I did that thing on the rings where I pull up and tuck, tip back, and rock back and forth. Next I’m supposed to be referred to a physical therapist, who, amazingly, is in the same building as the gym.