Queen Teen had an audiology appointment Wed. morning at Stanford. I decided to make it a fun trip and leave on Tuesday, giving us an extra day to play, plus a stay in a motel that night. On our way to Palo Alto that day, we stopped in Santa Rosa to have lunch with Rick, then we drove to San Francisco where we took a break at my school, San Francisco State University. I gave her a tour of the campus and showed her where my class is.
"Now you know where I am every Saturday," I said.
"Cool," she replied, looking around the classroom with a satisfied grin. "I think it's funny all of us are going to school."
But the highlight of the day was when I introduced her to one of my teachers. Queen Teen was shy at first, but warmed up quickly, especially when she discovered that my teacher ALSO wears hearing aids.
"See," my teacher said, pulling her hair back from her ears. "I have them too."
Queen Teen's eyes widened. "I didn't know other people had hearing aids!"
"I told you there were other people in the world," I said.
She looked at me and then pointed to herself. Her eyes sparkled and she sat up taller in her chair. "There are other people different like me!" Her declaration sounded like the words of a scientist who'd just discovered intelligent life on Mars.
My teacher and Queen Teen talked about sign language and hearing aids, and as I listened to Queen Teen's animated chatter I realized what a relief this discovery must be for her. Not only are there people "different" like her, but there are adults who have jobs and are capable. This woman has hearing aids, but she's my TEACHER. What a mind-blower that must be to a teen girl who thinks she's the only "weird" girl on the planet.
We continued our trip to Palo Alto and landed at the Stanford Mall. I love this mall; it's so beautiful and polite. The shoppers and workers smile. Sculptural fountains cascade into streams of clear water which run through the heart of the shopping center, framed by ferns and exotic plants. The shops are filled with beautiful clothing and jewelry I can never hope to afford, but we both love to explore. Queen Teen fell in love with a Betsy Johnson handbag (shiny purple and decorated with sparkling red and gold flowers. $300!). We discovered a tea shop and sampled the most delicious Jasmine tea I've ever smelled. The Stanford Mall is so far from my own reality, visiting it is like taking a trip to Monaco.
Tuesday was fun and relaxing, which was an excellent balance to Wednesday. NOT fun and extremely boring.
Her appointment was at 10:00 am and we were seen right away by her audiologist, Anne. Queen Teen really likes her, but she doesn't like the tedium of having her hearing checked. It took an hour and a half to test Queen Teen's hearing. She dropped blocks in a box when she heard the tone, and pointed to a picture when she heard Anne say the word. After that came programming the hearing aids and then trouble shooting the FM system. The device has had intermittent problems and Anne worked hard to figure out what was causing the device to stop connecting to the hearing aids. Of course the FM worked perfectly, just like when you take your car to the shop because it keeps making a horrible sound when you idle at a sign stop, but the car works flawlessly for the mechanic. Anne say FM devices are notorious for intermittent problems, so she wants me to keep track of when and where we are when the device stops working. What's in the environment can effect the signal, especially motion detector lights and wireless networks (seeing as we have five computers hooked up to a wireless network in the house, I'm thinking that might be a big problem).
After two hours, Queen Teen slumped in her chair, looking dazed and declaring, "I'm so bored!" An hour after that Queen Teen was just dazed. She'd stopped hearing anything, her system shutting down from fatigue and stress. At 1:00 we stumbled out of the basement where Audiology is tucked away, hungry for food and fresh air. We had a nice lunch and I grabbed one more cup of tea, then we hopped on the freeway heading home, hoping to stay ahead of Bay Area rush hour traffic. We made it to Novato before finding the stop and go traffic which we sat in all the way to Santa Rosa.
I decided she needed to have fun on Wednesday too, so we stopped at Border's books. She bought two new books and two new coloring books, then we had a snack at the cafe. There was another hour of driving before we got home at 6:30.
The hearing test showed that Queen Teen's hearing is reduced in her right ear, but her hearing fluctuates so much it isn't evidence that her hearing overall is worsening. Anne programmed the hearing aids to allow for volume control to give us an option for those days when Queen Teen seems to be having a harder time than usual understanding speech. We go back to audiology in six months.
I am impressed with how hard Queen Teen worked during the hearing test and her patience overall. Three hours would have been a strain for anyone, let alone a fourteen year old girl with a neurologic disorder. When I told her how proud I was of her, she smiled and said, "Yeah, but it was too boring."