I have a student who I suspect has hearing issues. For a long time I thought that the cause of her misunderstanding me and struggling in class was due to Spanish/English language issues. Now I think her Spanish/English issues (along with the rest) are due to hearing difficulties.
I started thinking this back in early November or so. I began researching ways to get her hearing tested. She and I had some conversations about my suspicions and she immediately started coming up with all the times she had had trouble or offended others etc all because she couldn’t hear well. We found that the nearest place to do hearing testing was in a town about 40 minutes away.
This hospital doesn’t take appointments. It is first-come-first-served. I arranged for her mom to come, got another staff member who speaks better Spanish than I do, excused her from classes, and gave up a day of prep. time at school to head to the hospital. This was in early February.
We got there around 9am. Within an hour we were told that the spots had already filled-we needed to be getting there around 8am in order to get on the list. We returned to school and planned another trip next month. The next time we left even earlier and arrived in time to get on the list! Our excitement was short-lived when we heard that the doctor wouldn’t be there until 10:30am and we were #5 on the list. Remember, this was at 8am.
We waited, paid our pesos as we went in and finally were granted an audience around 11:25. The good doctor looked in her ears, said it looked fine and sent us downstairs for X-rays. We headed out to find the X-ray department, paid more pesos for that, and sat to wait again. Finally we got in and imaged. Unfortunately we had to head back to school at 1pm, at which time they still couldn’t give us the X-rays.
With vacations, work schedules etc, we didn’t make it back to the hospital for 2 months. That was today. When we arrived they couldn’t find the X-rays at first. After much searching and waiting, they showed up. Finally, X-rays in hand, we headed back to the waiting room. I was sure we wouldn’t have to wait in the regular line this time-after all, we had already paid our pesos, gotten our X-rays and were just waiting to have them looked at-Oh, and it had been over 3 months in process. Wrong! Back in line we went.
After arriving at 8 am, searching for X-rays, and waiting in line for 4 hours, we finally saw the doctor again. It took him about 2 minutes to glance at the X-rays, say she was fine and prescribe some nasal drops. Nasal drops! Now, I know that the nasal passage is connected to the ear canal but the girl can’t HEAR! I said as much to the doctor in the best broken Spanish I could muster and he told me to bring her back after the summer, which he was about to spend in the US.
Some days service to others looks like sitting around in a dim waiting room with a hundred other people, as if you had nothing better to do. Some days service looks like paying for a student’s X-rays and over $5/gallon in gas out of your own pocket. Some days service looks an awful lot like frustration…until you see it as service. Then it just seems right.