eHearing loss and mammograms

            My hearing loss forces me to strain to hear conversations.  Whenever I’m in a mid-sized group, I use an amplifying microphone that attaches to my hearing aids.  I always use it when I teach, but lately I miss more even in small group settings.  So I need to amplify those conversations, too. 

            Nevertheless, I still misunderstand what people say.  And sometimes, what I think I’ve heard is more interesting and downright poetic and comic than what has really been said. 

            Last week I received a call back from a mammogram screening: I needed to have the dreaded diagnostic exam.  Because denial is often my best friend, I instantly chose not to obsess about it.  Still, over the course (I first wrote “curse) of three days, I entertained more than one frantic thought, i.e.,   on chemo, would I be able to keep up my teaching schedule?  My school talks? My swims in the lake in my cute wet suit?  And in case of surgery, should I postpone ordering that sports bra I need now?

            Finally, in the inner depths of the breast imaging department, I overheard the menacing hums of the torture machine, the ominous words of the technician, “Just a little bit tighter!” This background music brought back all my worries. 

            Finally, in, and I mean, really in the jaws of the beast, holding my breath, trying not to moan, I heard the technician say, “Your boobs are cute.”

            Now this was a little disconcerting from this woman, who was, at the moment, repositioning me into this metal vice–until it occurred to me that she’d probably said, “Your boots are cute.”

            Over my jeans I wore my new and very high, and I should say very fashionable, black boots, purchased for the recent trip to new York for the winter SCBWI conference.

            I began to laugh, ruining any chance that picture number two would be clear.  Finally I told her what I’d thought she’d said.

            And then she convulsed.  “Not quite the thing you want to hear from your mammogram technician!”

            And all my tension and worries dissipated in that great expanse of laughter.

            And although I don’t take it for granted, all was well with my exam and, yes, my soul.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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