“Hi, Mr. Swanson. What’s been bothering you lately?”
“Something’s wrong with my ears. I’ve been having trouble hearing lately.”
“In one ear, or both?”
Ben stopped to think about it before replying, “Both.”
Dr. Ibrahim nodded as she wrote something down on her clipboard. “And how long has this been going on?”
Ben had to think about that, too. “A few weeks, I guess. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed it until my girlfriend yelled at me the other night for having the TV turned up too loud.”
“So this has been happening gradually?”
It didn’t quite sound like a question the way she said it, but Ben answered anyway. “Yes.”
That seemed right. How else would he not have noticed unless it was happening too slowly for him to be able to notice the difference? For some reason, the thought gave him comfort.
“Have your ears felt clogged at all?”
“No pain or discomfort?”
“Nope. They feel just like they always have, except apparently they’re not working quite as well.”
“I see.” She jotted something else down on her clipboard.
“All right, let’s see what we’ve got here.” Dr. Ibrahim finally put the clipboard down, stood up, and grabbed the ear light probe that was hanging on the wall, making sure to fit it with a clean, disposable tip before turning on the light and inserting it into Ben’s right ear, then the left. “I don’t see anything clogging them. Have you taken a blow to the head recently? Maybe played a rough sport where you got knocked around?”
“No. The only thing I play is golf and I think I’d remember if I’d gotten clubbed in the head recently.”
“Have you been exposed to loud sounds? That can cause trauma to the ears, especially if it’s for an extended period of time.”
“Any other symptoms? Dizziness? Vertigo? Any ringing in the ears?”
Ben shook his head.
Dr. Ibrahim looked back down at his chart. “And these are all the medications you’re currently taking, correct? You haven’t left out any antibiotics or painkillers? Even if it’s just aspirin.”
“No. Like I said, I haven’t been in any pain, and other than the hearing loss, I feel fine.”
“All right, then, I’m going to write you a prescription for a hearing aid.”
“I didn’t realize you needed a prescription for hearing aids.”
“You don’t. There are over-the-counter options, but the prescription aids are better. You don’t have to fill the prescription if you’d rather get an aid over the counter, but I do recommend you use this one.”
“That’s it, huh? Nothing you can do to make my hearing come back?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid not. Let me know if the hearing loss gets worse or if there are any other symptoms. It’s always possible we could be missing something, but based on what you’ve told me, it sounds like presbycusis. You’re younger than most people who experience it, but it is a possibility. The hearing aid should help.”
So Ben took the prescription and left to go buy a hearing aid.
To be continued…