‘Wild child’ pays price with some loss of hearing
Not that I would anyway, but I truly have no wiggle room to wag a finger at anyone who may be damaging their hearing. As a red-blooded teenager, I was guilty of cranking up my music on the headphones and dancing in my room.
The headphones, which closely resembled ear muffs more than 30 years ago, blared the music so loud my mother could hear it in the next room – with my door closed. I was 13 and therefore in my mind, invincible.
In my 20s, I attended my fair share of rock concerts – including the first U.S. Festival in San Bernardino billed as the modern-day Woodstock. More than 200,000 people crammed a field in the foothills to hear an all-star lineup that included the likes of the Grateful Dead and Fleetwood Mac. I chose to stand next to a 12-foot-high speaker, “so I could hear the music,” I told friends.
I’m sure audiologists would cringe at the total negligence to my sense of hearing, which later caught up to me. After years of asking “what” in response to questions, I was accused of selective hearing at home.
Recently, I went to Stateline Medical Center for a hearing test. The technician sat me down and connected the gadgetry to my right ear. She told me to raise my hand when I heard a sound in that ear. Like a good soldier, I repeatedly lifted my arm.
But when it came to my left ear, I wasn’t so active.
“Raise your hand when you hear the tone,” the technician asked, repeating herself. I knew something was up. My hand rested on my leg.
My diagnosis was a loss of a high frequency in my left ear. I wondered, “well, what does that mean?” Dr. Stephen Hewitt told me it’s not the kind of thing a medical practice would do anything about. And it’s not a sign of a worsening condition. It just means I’ll have to be aware of where I stand when people are talking to me. If I can’t hear, I’ll know why.
I guess, for now anyway, MP3 players are off my shopping list. The tendency is too great to crank up the music. I guess some of us will always be a wild child.
– Susan Wood is a Tribune staff writer.
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