The sound of silence is incredibly loud, that’s what hearing aids have taught me so far. They have also taught me that my voice is also super loud, and doesn’t sound the way that I thought it did. My audiologist says that I’ll get used to it- I’m not so sure.
So today, if you didn’t already guess, was hearing aid day! It’s been a couple of months since the audiological testing that showed that I not only have severe Central Auditory Processing Disorder but mild/moderate bilateral hearing loss. The hearing loss was…a surprise, to say the least.
It took all the time since then to order my hearing aids, which are Phonak (because they make the best FM Systems), and gunmetal grey (because they don’t make purple hearing aids for adults?!). For whatever reason, my audiologist only seems to have appointments at 8 in the freaking morning, so I wasn’t particularly excited this morning when we started to do the fitting, although somewhere deep inside, I was incredibly interested in seeing what would happen and how things would change. Because this is a big deal, right? 6 months ago I didn’t even know that I had a problem, and here I am now, with hearing aids and an FM System.
So, the first thing about hearing aids is that they are so. much. more. comfortable than I thought. I was really worried because I have small ear innards (I’m that person who uses the small-sized earbuds) and sensory wise it can be a really sensitive area, you know? Imagine the doctor checking your ears 24/7- that’s what I imagined it would be like. And between the things sitting on my ear and the things stuck into my ear, there are so many things that could go wrong. But they didn’t. Thank goodness. The only issue I’ve had so far is going to itch my hair a little too enthusiastically and bumping the receiver bit. Minor problems.
I’m not sure what to say about the actual hearing part of my hearing aids, I think mostly because I wasn’t really expecting a huge difference? Like, I know that I have hearing loss, but I’ve always seen the auditory processing part as my main issue. I figured if I didn’t notice that there was hearing loss in the first place, how bad could it be?
turns out, bad enough
Guys, everything makes noise. I spent my appointment tapping on things, rubbing things, definitely-not–on-purposely dropping things. I got home and there was so much background noise, which I’ve now been informed are the dishwasher and the heater. Also, the dog snores!
So it turns out the hearing aids work. You can say ‘I told you so’ if you want right now. You can also tell me that when you’re autistic, hearing more is not necessarily a good thing, I’ve already figured that one out. Do you ever feel like something good can’t just happen, there’s gotta be a downside? Maybe that’s life.
Or maybe I’m just being melodramatic. It’s about a 50/50 chance.
So that’s the hearing aids, now onto the FM System. This is meant to target the auditory processing disorder, which, as we discussed earlier, gives me the most trouble, especially during the semester when I’m in class all day. This system is easy, my professors wear a pen-sized microphone, and it transmits directly through a little receiver to my hearing aids, it’s pretty foolproof! Between this and having a note-taker, I’m really optimistic about school. Although it does seem like I said that before the beginning of the last semester, and look how well that went.
I don’t want to sound like these things are the worst thing that has ever happened to me because that’s so so far from reality. The truth is, that I have trouble with change, and this is a huge one. A huge one that involves sensory input. Double trouble.
So for now, here’s the plan
- Wear hearing aids for small amounts of time, and stop before I get overwhelmed
- Try to be curious about unexpected noises instead of being annoyed
- Talk a lot so that I’ll get used to the sound of my voice faster
- Avoid situations that might be overwhelming (sound wise) for a few days
- Don’t let sensory overload affect the rest of my life
A bonus sixth point is to not drive my wonderful, caring, understanding wife absolutely crazy by being inflexible about everything, just because my hearing aids are driving me absolutely crazy.
Well, that’s it, that’s the whole hearing aid experience so far. I’m already certain that the good parts of the hearing aids are very good, and that I would like to have them all the time. For example, Jess can talk to me even if I’m not facing her- and I can still understand what she says! I’d like more of that, please. On the flip side, I can hear the heat and the dishwasher and people coming down the steps outside and the dog chewing on her bully sticks, and that is just SO MUCH all at once. They say that neural plasticity takes care of this sort of thing after a few weeks, basically, I’ll still hear it but it won’t be at the forefront of my attention all the time, thank goodness.
So, for now, I’m going to hold off making judgments, and just enjoy the process of experiencing the world in new ways. Loud ways.
On next weeks episode of What’s that Noise? our contestants search for 45 minutes only to find that the humidifier beeps!