I went to San Francisco for my central auditory processing testing today! My bike's in the shop getting a brake job, so I had to walk to the bus station :(
I always case out vegan eats when I have an upcoming trip deep into the bay area. I arrived two hours early and had lunch, a beet and seitan burger with squash-cashew cheese and sauerkraut (which I didn't know came in purple!) and a side salad from the HellaVeganEats truck that was parked at the farmer's market. At first I was disappointed that the meal hadn't come with fries, then I found that it was satisfying enough on its own. Wish I had gotten the full serving of sauerkraut and cheese instead of light. It was kind of expensive, but I wanted to support a vegan establishment.
I thought about getting the burrito instead, but there were no beans in it?! That's a damned wrap, not a burrito. And what's with everyone putting sweet potatoes in every thing now? It's like there's always some "it" food that people find a way to integrate into a million different dishes (or treat like the ultimate health food), up until the next one comes out. Chia is "in" right now; before that it was acai. Then they take the "it" food and mess up perfectly good traditional dishes with it, even going so far as to remove fundamental ingredients. Like a "burrito" with roasted sweet potato, but no beans.
After that, I wandered up and down the street for a bit, trying to figure out which way to go and sweating from the extra walking. I found the university and was half an hour early for my appointment. I was surprised to find a security desk just inside the door (the clinics had their own entrance, separate the school, apparently) and that I needed a visitor's badge. The school was very bright and new-looking; first school I've ever been in that had escalators.
The receptionist was out to lunch, so my arriving early did me no good. When she finally arrived a few minutes before my appointment time, I found out that I only had to fill out basic info and a one-page questionnaire about how much sounds bothered me. The doctor came out for me shortly, and we went back into the testing room. She looked into my ears and told me that I had a ball of wax that would begin pressing against my ear drum soon, and that I needed to use drops to soften it. My first thought was, "oh no, will that make sounds louder?" I actually thought about not removing the wax for a second. The incompetent nincompoops at my primary clinic apparently hadn't faxed my records, so she then stuck some foam earbug-like things in my ears and administered a hearing test. Immediately after that, we went straight through the CAPD testing. She offered me breaks, but I declined.
These are the tests I took, roughly in order:
The audiologist played successively louder tones and told me to indicate when the volume became overwhelming. She repeated this in each ear, with several different tones. Only the first one ever became overwhelming. I think there was a miscommunication on that test.
A recording played words in each ear, one by one, and I simply had to repeat them.
A series of static-like sounds played for a bit , and I had to press a button if I heard beeping in the background.
There was a series of tapping noises, and I had to say how many taps I'd heard.
A series of groups of four notes were played one-by-one, and I had to identify whether each of the four was the high tone or the low tone.
A series of unidentifiable sounds played, some single some in VERY closely-spaced pairs (they could have been mistaken for a single sound). I had to say whether I'd heard one sound or two.
Then there was one long set of tests (15 - 20 min.) that got much more difficult. I barreled through it:
One voice seemed to be giving a lecture. I had to ignore this voice, tune in to the other (which played simultaneously) and say the words the second voice directed me to say. Same with the opposite ear.
Another series of quad-note groups. This time, I had to identify the pattern in terms of the notes' durations (long or short).
Then the testing got insane. I heard two different sets of numbers simultaneously, one set per ear. Six numbers total, three spoken one-by-one in each ear, and not slowly, either. I had to recite all six, starting with the three I'd heard in the right ear first, in the order in which they'd been played. I messed up and started with the left ear, not recognizing my error until I had to do the same thing, right ear first. Not sure the doc noticed.
Then two sentences simultaneously, one per ear, which I had to recite, again, beginning with the sentence that I'd heard in the right ear first. And so forth, the other ear.
Those two tests were the most difficult. Of course, I had a migraine building by that time. I can't even remember what the hell we did after that. The audiologist told me that the test was designed to exhaust the testee in order to reveal a breakdown in performance. I think they hit their mark.
She scored the tests while I waited! Then called me into a back room. She said that I'd been tested on speech-in-noise, temporal processing (dunno what that means), and something else I can't remember. I was breaking down at that point. The sounds from the street were beginning to get to me, and the glass in the large window was making distracting noises as well. She said that all of my tests results were in the normal range, although one was low (can't remember which). In fact, I somehow scored 100% on one of them?! The bar for a perfect score must be damned low, 'cause I certainly didn't get them all correct. We'll see when I get the report. I actually get to give feedback on the report before she creates a final draft and mails it to me! Wonderful.
I was surprised at how long she talked with me. She recognized that I might still have processing problems despite my scores, and informed me that there are some available treatment options, mainly software-based, but that they were expensive, and that she wouldn't recommend them given the combination of the price and her inability to guarantee that I would benefit from them based on my current skills. Based on my questionnaire and test scores, she said that I seemed to have misophonia. She said that she could make some recommendations if I began working with VocRehab again, and asked me about my future employment plans and my SSI case. She filled out, signed, and faxed the form I needed to get a captioned phone.
I was quite displeased to hear that the treatment for misophonia is desensitization. She asked me about how hearing sounds made me feel, and which situations moved me to don my ear defenders. She said that it was good that I didn't wear them all of the time, and very, very carefully and sensitively suggested that I begin to try to desensitize myself by removing my ear defenders thirty seconds before I get off the bus, slowly increasing this amount of time as my comfort level increased. She also suggested volunteer work in a quiet environment.
At some point, a truck that was louder than the others rumbled by and I covered my ears and started crying. She left the room and returned with a box of tissues. I can't remember what the hell else she said. The whole appointment lasted two hours and a quarter and I needed to be out of there. She gave me a copy of my cap phone application, I went back down the elevator, returned my badge, and then I had to wait for the security guard to open the metal bar thingee so that I could get out (what?!).
It was getting close to time for me to be worried about missing the last bus home, so I wasted no time walking back the way I came to hit up vegan falafel place before I left. Within minutes of arriving, the guy said something to me that I couldn't make out while standing less than six feet away, and after getting those test results, I was like, 'to hell with everything. I still can't understand people.' Just a tad pricey, especially the little square of baklava I got for two bucks. But hearing the guy who came in asking for flesh told that the restaurant was a 100% vegan establishment? PRICELESS. Tables turned for once.
I don't think the testing is terribly representative of my abilities because it was administered directly into my ears, which makes sounds easier to make out than they are otherwise.
I got down to the BART platform and was surprised to see the southbound side empty, and everyone lined up for the eastbound trains. I've never seen people line up for BART; they usually swarm inwards from every angle, some all but pivoting around the entrance frame to come in at ninety degrees. I figured it was a rush-hour-people thing and got in a line. When the train arrived, some people got on, but others just stood there, blocking the damned door. I asked why people were just standing there and no one said anything to me, although one person looked at me. I was so confused, I hesitated and missed my train. The hell? I finally figured out that they were waiting for other train lines, but why line up and block the path onto the trains? None of the subsequent trains that stopped were anywhere near close to being full, so it wasn't like a first-come, first-served arrangement was in order. I left the line. I felt stupid for letting their moronic ritual delay my trip home.