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September 8, 2020 / catherinebwrites

SWITCH ON YOUR BRAIN AND LISTEN

Me testing Maria’s hearing

I worked with E.N.T. Zambia, a voluntary group providing ear, nose and throat treatment in rural Zambia. I’m an audiologist. We worked in clinics, schools, churches, anywhere we could find electricity. A local nurse organised patients, the ENT surgeon treated them in a mobile clinic and I tested hearing.

The very first day I set up my audiometer in the sacristy of a mission church. My specialty is children and most of the kids I saw that suffered from conditions that we could treat. As the last patient left and I packed up, satisfied with a good day’s work. A young man put his head round the door.

Some women going home from the clinic

“May I speak with you madame?”

“Of course.”

He was tall, lithe and impossibly handsome. I’d seen him working in the church grounds and talking to the priest .

“I have a serious problem Madame,” he said, “Father Joseph said that perhaps you could help me.”

“Certainly if I can.”

“I have a problem with hearing.”

“What things can you not hear?”

“Outside I can hear everything but at home I cannot hear. It gives my wife great concern.”

Nothing about him suggested a hearing problem. No cock of the ear, no frown, no problem hearing me. But there many oddities in hearing problems. It needed a proper test to be sure. I unpacked my equipment again.

His hearing was normal. It was better than normal. I did a speech test. Standing six feet behind, I asked unexpected questions in the quietest voice possible. He heard, understood and answered everything perfectly. He even heard when a rackety car revved up outside the window.

“When you’re at home with your wife,” I asked, “can you hear the sound of your wife’s voice?”

“Oh yes I hear her voice.”

“When you hear her voice what are you thinking about?”

“I am thinking about my goats, about my work for the Father, about my friend who is sick, many things.”

“Ahhhh.”

Now I knew what the problem was.

There were two parts to hearing, I explained. The first part is when the sound goes into your ear and up to your brain. That first part is hearing.

The second part is when your brain understands the sound. That part is is called listening. It is like electricity. The wires bring the electricity to your home, but if you don’t turn on the switch the light won’t come on. So when your wife speaks you have to turn on your brain. This is how you do it.

1 You stop thinking about goats, and work, and friends

2. Look at your wife

3 Pay attention to what she is saying

If you do those three things you will hear, you will listen and you will know exactly what she is saying.

“That is most interesting.” he said “Thank you Madame, my wife will be very pleased to learn this information.”

And off he went with a smile and a wave. I packed up thinking , what a great I helped some children, and maybe I saved a marriage.

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