Wow, What’s That (Wonderful New) Sound?

World Hearing Day is coming up on March 3rd.  I think the goal is to remind people to take care of their hearing – reduce exposure to loud noise, get a hearing checkup, buy a hearing aid, and whatnot.

But for those of us who already can’t stand loud noise, own a fine selection of hearing aids and/or CI sound processors, and visit our hearing care professionals more often than we would like – maybe we should pause for a few moments on March 3rd (or today, even) and be grateful for any progress we’ve made with our hearing loss.

I’d like to celebrate by comparing what I hear when I’m wearing technology – I’m bimodal with a right ear sound processor and left ear hearing aid – and when I’m not.

Without technology:  Nada, zilch, zero.

With technology:  Kaboom! With increasingly better devices my world has exploded with sounds I didn’t know existed! (To be truthful, I could do with a little less noise from some of them.)

I can now hear, especially with my cochlear implant, either for the first time ever, the first time in a long time, or just better. Some examples:

Bare feet sliding across a carpet.

Water left running in the sink. (The memory of our flooded camper is still painful. Especially when you’re mopping up at 4am.)

The hissy sounds of speech:  ch/sh’s and the “t” at the end of words. Speech is so much easier to understand when you hear the consonants.

Birds: the flapping of wings, the rustling about in bushes, birdsong. To be honest, at this point in my CI progress, the flapping, rustling and singing often sound the same. But, strangely, I can clearly hear the birds with the really high frequency birdsong.

Cars on the road when I’m not in the car, a drone I don’t particularly care for. And the drone while I’m in the car is just an extra sound on top of my tinnitus I don’t need.

People talking – not to me, but when I can’t see them or they’re too far away to make it out. But I do recognize there is conversation happening; it’s a low, honky hum sound.

Dog nails on hardwood floors. I don’t need both ears for this because these dogs are Lulu the pit bull and Duke, the Great Dane. Their nails are substantial.

Coffee maker – are all pots so noisy and gurgly?

Charlie and Nickie, our cats, doing their business in the cat litter – a unique sound I can hear from almost anywhere in the house. To clarify: what I hear are their paws moving about in the wood pellet litter, not their actual, uh, movements.

With many high frequency sounds, I can’t yet tell what they are. The Hearing Husband still answers this question at least two or three times a day: “What’s that sound?” When he can’t make anything out, I know it’s my tinnitus.

What sounds would I like to turn off? The crinkling of plastic bags is torture and when someone is eating chips out of a bag…gahh!! The first new sound I heard after activation of my CI was the ticking of the wall clock. Does anyone know how to turn that sound down? Do digital clocks also make a tick-tick-tick-tick-tick….?

So, happy World Hearing Day! Get your hearing checked, move forward on hearing aids if you need them, and then take a moment to be grateful. The miracle of technology opens us up to the miracles of nature.

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for, 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.


  1. I was always embarrassed with myself for my turn signals blinking along for miles before I realized I had failed to reset the turn lever. I was so frustrated with the state mandated “audible signal” being below hearing level even with the best hearing aids on the market. I sure had a surprise with my implants when I discovered my turn signals were loud! Same car, different ears. Yes, and aren’t those pesky birds chirping rather loudly for comfort?

  2. Yes, thank you again Gael for your article. I, like you, now have an implant and am amazed at what and what I don’t hear and some days, and just have to laugh because of what I think I hear. Am having just so much fun with new sound. I am deaf in my right ear and have the implant on the left side. With my ear still being quite numb and the c.i. being so light, I am frightened that I may lose it one day, so am going to get a Snugfit to see if that will cure my concerns.

  3. Thanks Gael for your article on how wonderful it is to be able to hear. We should all try to maintain our remaining hearing ability by protecting our precious ears from excessive noise.

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