Finding the Silence of the Season

“When I get home at night, the first thing I do is whip off my hearing aid and relax.”

I was a little shocked at my friend’s comment. Another friend also takes off her cochlear implant sound processor at times during the day just to get the same noise-free peace.

I fought hard for the sounds that I now hear through my hearing aid and sound processor and I couldn’t imagine muting them – especially my right-side cochlear implant. I celebrate every sound that becomes less fuzzy, clearer and identifiable. My hearing hardware fires up first thing in the morning and only comes off for showers and nighty-night-nights. And silence is not always the trade-off; when the equipment leaves my head, the sounds inside my head chime louder.

But something has changed.

The latest mapping of my CI gave me a tremendous boost in clarity, range of sounds and perceived volume. Sounds that previously were off my radar have become SERIOUS SOUNDS THAT CAN’T BE IGNORED.

Cats scratching in their litter box. The tractor sound of their purring. The shushy-slaps of the Hearing Husband’s slippers on the hardwood floor – is it too late in our relationship to ask him to pick up his feet? Air ducts. Water running through the pipes. And get this – I even heard a large leaf land on the road. A leaf!

Now I understand why some CI and hearing aid users crave the softer-sounding or completely silent world they had before the sounds of life were restored to them. It’s noisy out there! Especially at this time of year; when I was shopping for groceries last week, the Salvation Army guy’s rattle-jingling made me a little nuts.

Now, I have a better appreciation for those moments of modified silence. When we turn the TV off. Going for a walk in the dark, with only the night sky, stars, the neighbours’ Christmas lights and the outline of tall Douglas firs to engage our senses. Sitting in our new hot tub, without hearing aid or CI sound processor. The silence of the house after a two-year-old granddaughter and her parents have left to go home. We miss them, but the quiet is delicious.

People with hearing loss who use sound-restoring technology have two things to celebrate: the joy of sound and the bliss of silence – when and where we want it.

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

5 Comments

  1. Yes, after suffering a VERY noisy family gathering where I could not, even with my 2 CI’s, hear my cousin next to me, my ears were so tired that when I got home I took them off for a couple hours of quiet. When our ears tire, it’s called “recruitment”, and comprehension is greatly reduced. That alone can cause tension and frustration, but it’s life and we have to live with it while most of the time we still have the joy of hearing. Beats the detestable alternative of deafness.

  2. Gael has been able to focus on the adaptive change wherein the the sound pulse train is able to strengthen the nerve impulses that lower the need of of increased amplification with time. So, we have to figure out the reduced impulses that is required to excite the hippocampus ,and the need for increased amplification becomes less and lesser the need for proper excitation and mimics the sensitivity of the developing cochlea !
    The technology can help reduce the need for more amplification instead of pounding the 8th nerve apparatus. Fine tuning with sustained stimulation could be the perfect way to regain stimulation ! The return to good neural flows means that we don’t need more amplification, but by signalling the brain to keep up the stimulation up. my patients are able to direct their minds to create alternate pathways through dendritic stimulation and increase plastic changes and intervention. People with better intellligence improve brain performance by stimulating the brain tocreate to understand the plastic changes necessary. Thank you Gayle for leading the way!

  3. The delicious quiet I seek and find is turning off my HAs (part of the time) whilst walking in a noisy city–seriously-urban life changes the equation! There are so many moments during the day when I am happy to be able to close off a noisy world! Thanks for another great column

  4. When my seven year old son got a hearing aid after sudden severe/profound unilateral deafness, his first reaction was that “the door” had suddenly been reopened on that side. He continued to marvel at his new found ability to turn the world on and off. Sleeping on one side gave him peace and quiet, sleeping on the other gave him awareness. He felt empowered to manage and adjust his acoustic input. I allowed him that choice. But, I sure could tell in an instant which side he was sleeping on when his alarm clock went off in the morning. (Until I got him a flashing one.) I too take my hearing aids off when I am at home. I enjoy the break and quiet space. The ALD’s I have installed can take care of most of my hearing needs (phone, TV, doorbell) when I need them.

  5. Thank you Gael. I wear my hearing aids from morn till night, unless I am absolutely exhausted and take a nap. Then the quiet is indeed ‘delicious’ Bestest from Margaret

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