I don't know why I was surprised to learn today (once again) that A is deaf in her left ear. I've known that fact practically since she was born.
I think that because A is doing so well, I forget sometimes that she has medical complications. Because she seems to see ok, I forget that she has fields of vision missing, due to her colobomas. Because she is talking so much, and even recently tested within normal range on an articulation test, I forget that she has a paralyzed vocal cord and other factors that led to speech delay. Because she is walking so well now, I forget that she has no semicircular canals.
And because she seems to hear so well (in fact, is aided to about normal hearing in her right ear) I forget that she is deaf in her left ear.
Today we had an audiology appointment at Children's Hospital. We usually go there twice a year, and do both aided (with hearing aids) and unaided tests. Today was an aided test. We went into the sound-proof booth, and first tested her right ear, which is her "good" ear. Our audiologist noticed that she wasn't responding to some frequencies as well as she used to, and made a minor adjustment to the hearing aid. After re-testing, A was responding to almost all of the frequencies. I was happy the adjustment was made; now A will be hearing even better.
We then tested her left ear. We have not tested her left ear, aided, in quite a while. An MRI done when A was a baby showed that she has no auditory nerve in that ear, but early testing did show SOME response (albeit in the profound range, but still) in some frequencies. We have always put a hearing aid on her left ear, because frankly no one can tell us what she is hearing except for her...and she doesn't have that cognition and language capability yet. After all, she is only 4 years old.
To test her left ear, we took out the hearing aid from her right ear and masked the ear. This means that the audiologist inserted a small bud in her right ear that made white noise. Because of the white noise in her right ear, she would only hear out of her left ear (otherwise, sound that is meant for her left ear could also be heard by her right). The audiologist then played some sounds to see how A would respond.
The audiologist turned up the volume. It was loud. In fact, the sounds were so loud that she asked me if I wanted a headphone for myself to block it out (I declined, although it was loud enough to hurt my ears).
Still nothing. Nada.
I sat there, with A in my lap, quietly crying. This test showed that there was NO hearing in her left ear, not even at a profoundly deaf level.
Again, I'm not surprised. We've known she was deaf in that ear for a long time. In fact, when she first failed her hearing tests in the NICU we were told that she was deaf in both ears...so the fact that she is aided to normal hearing in one ear is a blessing that I don't take for granted. And apparently she is hearing all parts of speech, something that we were concerned with, so that makes me extra happy.
Yet it's still hard to be confronted with.