Some music to set the mood . . . from Art and Paul.
It's been a week now, since I picked up my new ears.
Friends ask me what it's like.. . to wear hearing aids. And I answer that it's just like wearing little microphones in your ears.
Which is exactly what they are. Little microphones behind my ear, amplifying sounds into my ear. It's really quite amazing.
I could hear before. I just couldn't hear everything, and I couldn't hear it clearly. I mean, without my hearing aids, I can take a walk outside and hear bird calls and traffic. But with my hearing aids, I hear BIRD CALLS! and TRAFFIC!
(I actually delight every time I step outside - at the bird calls all around me. So loud and clear and wonderful. Makes me smile every time.)
Have you ever heard the Tale of the Boiling Frog? It's a great metaphor (whether it actually happens or not in Real Life). It goes like this: Basically, if you plop a frog into a pot of already-boiling water, he'll immediately jump out. But. If the frog is already in the pot, and THEN you turn up the heat and gradually bring the pot to a boil, he'll not jump out -- but just . . . cook himself.
Because, so the metaphor goes, we don't notice change -- unless it's sudden and drastic. If change is slow and gradual, though, we just adapt. (Until it's too late.)
Well, hearing is like that. Over the years, as my hearing gradually deteriorated, my brain just . . . adapted. It thought of my ever-expanding silence as . . . Normal.
When you get hearing aids, everything (and I mean EVERYthing) is suddenly LOUD. Because . . . your brain thinks silence is Normal.
It takes a while for your formerly non-hearing brain to adjust to all the new . . . noise. Ambient noise (the ever-present background noise of life) is a particular problem for new hearing aid wearers. Other people's cell phone ringtones. Shuffling paper. Doors opening and closing. Keyboard key strokes. Unwrapping a granola bar. Windshield wipers. Fans. Dog walking across wood floor. Clocks ticking. Sounds that people with normal hearing have just learned to ignore are suddenly new and exciting for the hearing aid wearer's brain.
The first few days with my hearing aids, the ambient noise was nearly unbearable. Just moving a piece of paper from one side of my desk to the other was like . . . firecrackers going off! I had to move to an entirely different part of the house whenever Tom filled the dishwasher . . . it was that disturbingly loud. I had headaches from the ambient noise.
It's getting better, though. Amazingly better - in just a week! My brain is making the adjustment -- and beginning to tire of the new ambient noise around me, allowing me to move it into the background again. (Except for highway driving noises. That's still a problem. But I have hope!)
I'm also getting used to the sound of my own voice. Because it's "mic'd" too! With my hearing aids, I hear myself "in stereo" whenever I speak out loud: The voice inside my head AND the voice outside my head! I have had to enlist my friends and family in giving me feedback about how loud I'm speaking. Because it sounds (to me) like I'm talking really, really LOUD. But apparently I'm not. In fact, my feedback so far has been . . . speak up! That's all getting better, too. (Although it is scary to hear yourself singing along to songs on your iPod. Really bizarre.)
Mostly, though, I'm just in awe of . . . hearing! Comfortably and easily. My weekly staff meeting (the situation that ultimately convinced me I had to Do Something) was amazing. I could hear everything. I didn't have to place myself Just So. I didn't even have to look at the speakers around the table to be able to "get" what they were saying.
It's so much less stressful . . . to hear!
The day after I got my hearing aids, I was standing in the kitchen at my office, water running, rinsing out my lunch dishes. The Finance Guy stopped in the doorway of the kitchen to ask me a couple of questions. I had always struggled talking with The Finance Guy -- not just because he's The Finance Guy, but also because I had a hard time understanding him. You see. . . he mumbles. But last week, standing there with the water running and everything, I suddenly realized . . . I was conversing - comfortably - with The Finance Guy! (Turns out he doesn't mumble so much after all.)
It's been quite a week. Hearing. Adapting. Listening. No more . . . sounds of silence for me!