9 May 2011

It's Oh So Quiet, Shhh, Shhh....said Bjork.....Or not as the case may be.

Wow, it's a noisy world out there isn't it. Yeah? No? Maybe it's living in London I don't know but it sure is noisy here. However I feel that at this point I should say that it's not just noisy because it's a big city.  No, I have extra reason for feeling moderately aggrieved about how blimmin' loud everything is at the minute.

Way back in January some of you might remember that I posted this, about being deaf and trundling off to the hospital to get tested for digital hearing aids. Whether I liked it or not I was being dragged, kicking and screaming into the digital age. Yes, so my old hearing aids were so ancient they don't make them anymore. The lovely audiologists at my local hospital (once they'd recovered from the shock of seeing someone under the age of 60) practically laughed me out of the consulting room at the sight of my aids. Well y'know if something ain't broke, don't fix it.

Anyway having said all that, I knew I needed to pull my finger out and get digital hearing aids. I've been on analogue for so long though - my whole life since I started wearing hearing aids when I was tiny. I asked the hearing-aid-lady what the difference was between analogue and digital was, exactly, and what difference i'd notice - if any. I mean, didn't I hear most things anyway?

Huh, apparently not because basically my analogue old-style aids, figure out what noises at what pitches + levels I *will* be able to hear - and then cut off all other sounds;spanking new digital hearing aids work differently... Although there is still a limit to the range of sound I can hear, the new hearing aids don't cut off the sounds at the end of those limits but extend it a bit at either end. It's a bit like hearing in black and white - and then suddenly hearing in colour. All those little tiny sounds that I wouldn't normally hear add together to flesh out this big picture of sound. It's incredible....

But bloody noisy - as I was saying. So I got my new hearing aids on Monday 4th April and when the hearing-aid-man (HAM) put them in and switched them on I jumped a mile - at the sound of my own blimmin' voice. Yeah - it sounds different, even though it's in my own head. The ticking of the clock was so loud and when the HAM clapped it was like a rocket going off. After fiddling around with the volume and the settings....

Oh yes, I must mention the whole settings thing - which is a cool improvement on the previous aids, basically depending on the environment - noisy bar, quiet sitting room, average dinner party, t-loop set up - I can switch my hearing aid to a setting that channels and filters the noise appropriately for the place. Which makes parties and pubs and bars a whole lot easier. I have to do a fair bit of networking in my job and I think most recruiters would testify to the fact that a whole room of us (with a free bar...) can get pretty noisy. But now, with my magical aids, it's like the person opposite me, although they're shouting, is speaking really clearly right into my ear. It's awesome!

Equally if I am in a quiet room, the new setting for that helps - I know that husbando certainly appreciates not having to have the TV on top volume (with subtitles too). I remember the first time I turned it on after getting the new aids and nearly pooped myself it was so loud. I've gone from volume 35ish to about 28ish - huge improvement.

It's more the little things that have made the biggest difference too - as I said, hearing my own voice properly, the ticking of clocks (wow is that the sense of time passing??) but also different tones and textures in husbando's voice. It's deeper and richer than I realised before. The outside world was quite overwhelming at first - a sensation overload if you like - I had to keep turning my aids off or down when I walked down the street. And also adjusting to different noise levels when one side of me was quiet and the other side loud. Rather amusingly I've discovered lots of new noises - like the lift at work makes a whoooooshy noise. Who knew? Well actually everyone knew - except me.

Now that I'm used to the new aids, I've finally stopped walking around with a permanently surprised expression at all the noises that are new and different (and LOUD) yes, did I mention the loudness? How do you hearing-type people cope? Good lord, I've spent nearly 30 years of my life not needing to really tune out noise unless I'm in a really noisy place, now I have to do it all the damned time :) It is partly about my brain learning to adjust to the hearing aids until it forgets they're in there and they become part of my body almost.

So I'll just leave you with the very best part about my new hearing aids. When I turn them on in the morning, just like with a laptop or a mobile phone, they have a little chime when they come on. How cute (and utterly pointless IMO) is that. But hey, guess what, I can hear it!

Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. A VERY USEFUL POST! I know people with hearing problems and they put off going for help (other issues have beem crossed off) because they don't think anything worthwhile is out there. Even family docs know nothing. Please keep us posted. One other thing. How much do they cost? We in the U.S. truthfully have no 'health care' system. They don't sell health and they don't care. Although they LOVE to hide behind that term. We have the medical services industry and ALL INVOLVED (except maybe nurses) docs too, are among the most self serving, price gouging, extortionist people going. No shame at all. Ok, I got to vent. But a comparison of how much such devices would cost in U.K. (on average, not necessarily your cost) with what they would coldly demant for them here would be very informative. GREAT POST. THANKS!!

  2. What an eye (and ear) opening blog. Fascinating finding out about the world from a very different perspective. The world sure is a noisy place and I spend much of my time wishing I could shut it out. I find noisy bars overwhelming and don't like trying to hear a conversation when others are talking about something else next to me. So for you to have this whole new level of sound opened up to you must be mind boggling. The brain is amazing though, and will soon adapt. I suspect the novelty will never truly wear off.

  3. Wow...I never thought about how much noise I automatically filter out.

    What an amazing, annoying, beautiful hard thing to finally hear what you've been missing.

    I'll bet there are things we'd be better off not hearing or seeing or feeling.

    Maybe a little sensory deprivation makes life easier.

    But you never asked for life to be easy, now. Did you?

    I hope you adjust quickly.

    (Listen carefully and you can hear me cheering you on all the way from here....)

  4. Brilliant post. I'm so pleased for you :D

  5. Will - erm, they are free on the National Health Service (you might be able to buy better privately but not sure) thanks though!

    Michael - I am adjusting but every so often I think `hey` that's a new sound!! It's nice in some ways too :) thanks for taking the time to comment

    Julie - yes I wish I couldn't hear so much sometimes but it's better than the alternative!! thanks lovely

    KT - awww fanks