The good news – excellent news – is that my mom’s hearing is restored to its former level. Indeed, she only needed to have her ear canals cleaned, as they were completely clogged with wax.
The comic/tragic aspect of the experience had to do with me not being able to accompany her to the doctor’s appointment. I had so completely given myself permission not to feel guilty, not to worry that everything would go wrong without me there to keep it right. The aides who work with her are kind and good. They know her, she knows them. She’d be fine with any one of them helping her.
The nurse who made the ENT appointment had assured me she’d explain to my mom why we decided to get her the first possible appointment instead of waiting until I could go along. And she probably did, but my mom couldn’t really hear at the time. I couldn’t call to explain it to Mom, for obvious reason.
A different nurse was on duty the morning of Mom’s appointment. That day, I arrived at work, took my cell phone out of my purse to put it in my pocket (ringer off) and realized I had a voicemail from the nursing home, left while I was in transit ten minutes earlier. We’re not really supposed to use our cell phones at work, but I was able to listen to the message surreptitiously. The key part was “Your mom’s appointment is in a few minutes and she won’t get on the van to go. She keeps saying we have to wait for you to get here.” Oh crap. Crappity crap crap.
Of course, by the time I listened to the message, it was too late. Either she was on the van already or it had left without her. I called and left a voice mail at the nurse’s station asking for someone to contact me at my work number. Thirty long minutes later the nurse called me back and told me they’d convinced Mom to go.
In the afternoon, between my work shifts, I called again to ask what the doctor said. The nurse read me the notes they had, mentioning hearing loss in both ears blah blah medical jargon blah blah, adjusted hearing aide medical jargon.
“Do they know why she lost so much hearing so quickly, though?”
“Well, I read you everything it said.”
“Did they find any wax or fluid or anything?”
“It doesn’t say. But you can call their office directly.”
So I did. I talked to a nurse there who repeated hearing loss in both ears blah blah medical jargon…
“Do they know why her hearing declined so dramatically all of a sudden?”
“She already had hearing loss. She was wearing a hearing aid when she came in.”
“Yes, but she went from the hearing aid helping her live her life and have conversations to almost no hearing at all even with it in.”
“She could get a second hearing aid.”
“Okay. I’ll look into that. Um, did you all by chance clean any wax out of her ears or anything?”
“Oh yes. Her ear canals are narrow and they were completely filled with wax.”
“They dug so deep I was afraid they’d puncture my brain,” my mom told me later.
When I visited her the next day, she heard me knock on the door. We had a face-to-face conversation rather than a mouth-to-ear one. She’d watched a TV show and understood it. She told me about the morning’s activity. She was back to being an active member of her world. This afternoon, I called her on the phone and heard about their ice cream social, with accounts of all the funny things people said. And she doesn’t believe she needs a second hearing aid for now.