I got my new hearing aids and have discovered (again) that the world is a very loud place. It is amazing how much noise there is when you think that things are quiet.I’ve had hearing aids for 4.5 years now and while I knew some things were loud, you get used to hearing them. My new hearing aids and my brain have to learn how to work together, so I’m hearing things that I can’t identify. It shouldn’t take too long for everything to start working together, but right now I’m feeling a little out of sorts.
What most people don’t realize is that even with hearing aids you have to work to hear. Ok, not so much to hear, but to understand. My hearing loss is in the voice frequencies, so often (especially without my hearing aids) I can hear that a person is talking to me, but I don’t have a clue as to what they are saying. I hear the sounds coming from their mouth but by the time it makes it to my brain it sounds like Wahh, wahh, wahh (much like the adults on The Peanuts).
It isn’t that I’m not listening or paying attention, it is just that my brain can’t process the sounds that I am hearing. My brain can’t process the sounds because my ears aren’t working properly to hear the sounds. The functioning of the ears for hearing is quite complex (and I certainly don’t understand a lot of it), but what I can tell you is that, trying harder doesn’t help.
That being said, listening takes a lot of work. For me (and I would suppose for others who have lost hearing as adults), I use a lot of different techniques to “hear.” My new hearing aids are amazing (thanks to Dr. Baker and DVR), but they don’t eliminate the problem.
When I am listening to someone I first watch their mouth so that I can “fill in” some of the things I may not catch with my ears. When I can hear someone and can see their mouth, I lip-read very well. When I don’t have both things, I struggle. I also watch their body language and facial expressions, while, hopefully, putting into context what they are saying. My brain has to take in all of these things and process them for me to be able to “hear.”
Right now my brain and my hearing aids are learning to work together. What that means is that listening is an exhausting endeavor. Additionally, I will be headed to a training next week where I will be learning new material (in addition to working hard to listen) and I know that I am in for a few very difficult days.
On the second day of having my new hearing aids I met with one of the school district audiologists to see what assistive technology was available to help me do my job. She was AMAZING and had a ton of information. She showed me a lot of things I didn’t know about and I will be trying one out for my training next week. We spent 3 hours going over technology and she even called the manufacturer of my hearing aids to find out if there was new technology that would help in the areas that I feel I need additional assistance.
Thank you does not even begin to express how I feel about the time the audiologist (DM) took to help me! But, by the time I left her office I was exhausted. I was listened-out. I could not listen for another moment. I was supposed to meet a new friend in Castle Rock if I had a chance after I was done with the audiologist and I had to call her and tell her I just couldn’t.
The effort in learning new material and working with my new hearing aids was a bit much and I paid the consequences with fatigue and a major headache. It was well worth it, but I am hoping that things get easier quickly.
When I got home, I took my hearing aids out even though it was only 2 pm. It was silent for a little bit and when it wasn’t silent the world was quite far away. The sound of silence is a beautiful thing once in a while.