Over the past year, I have been going through a painfully slow process of having tests and results to try and find out what is wrong with my hearing. I seem to suffer the inverse of “cocktail party syndrome” and when in a room with too much background noise – I effectively end up deaf.
The first series of tests and reports from doctors couldn’t find anything physically wrong, and the last doctor I saw agreed to refer me further after I pointed out that the graphs/MRI may say nothing is wrong but there most certainly is a problem.
In actual fact, it seems that I have excellent hearing in physical terms – but I just can’t hear people when there is too much background babble – it all merges into a white noise and I can’t isolate the person standing next to me from the background noise.
Anyhow, yesterday I went for the referral which is basically the final point to go – and at last – someone has identified a problem.
I’ve persisted in trying to get this resolved one way or the other as it is an incredible social handicap. I can’t hear people in even the most ordinary of pubs and trying to go to a music venue is frankly pointless. When standing in a group of friends, I often drift to the edge and just stand there bored silly waiting for a suitable excuse to go home. Indeed, I have been told off for doing that – even though it is frankly the only thing I can do in the circumstances.
It can be somewhat depressing at times, and as a single chap it would be nice to be able to approach people without the worry that I might spend the whole evening saying “pardon” to every other sentence!
Despite the tests showing very good hearing, I do have a slight drop off at the high frequencies, and although not that serious – it does explain the problem I have – which has been termed Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Apparently this issue was first diagnosed about 40 years ago, and while no one is really sure what causes it, it is thought to affect up to 10% of the adult population and is not generally age related.
Also, alas – there is no cure.
There are treatments of sorts – but they are more based around learning to live with the issue than actually treated it in the usual means.
Many people with this issue report one side is worse than the other – and I do sit to the left of people where possible as my left side is worse (that showed up in the graphs), but it seems that I should try to face the person as I need more visual clues to help fill in the missing detail in the speech. I was once accused of lip-reading when people talk to me, and what was an unconscious act may have to become something I practice more proactively in future.
There are a few other ideas, but mainly – I just need to avoid noisy environments.
Alas, as most social environments tend to be quite noisy (even when the music is turned down), this will prove to be difficult.
So, at the end of the road as far as hearing tests are concerned, and while there is nothing that can be done medically to help – at least I know there is an identifiable problem and it is not just my imagination that all this is happening.
It is a relief to know I am not alone in this – even if there isn’t a huge amount that can be done about it.