Deaf Sounds

What makes you most anxious?

One of the great charms of being deaf is not being able to hear one’s own voice. A deaf person can form words and say them, or think she’s said them, but is never quite sure that the words she’s formed have a voice. 

It is a very peculiar experience.

Now, I am not totally deaf, but I am pretty close. I have a slight amount of hearing ability in one ear. Very slight. Enough for me to hear the smoke alarms in the house and the water raining down on my head in the shower. I cannot hear doors opening and closing, footsteps coming up the stairs behind me, cars speeding down the street, or most dogs barking. I cannot hear people talking to me unless they are screaming. I would never hear someone breaking into my house.

This is very scary if you think about it.

I have the best in hearing devices – a very expensive hearing aid in the slightly functional ear and a fairly new cochlear implant/receiver replacing my other, dead ear. But I don’t wear them all the time. It’s difficult to sleep with them on. I know, I’ve tried. If my husband is out of town, I start out the night’s sleep by wearing them but soon take them off. And then there’s the total silence.

I am at home there, in total silence, having spent many years living in my own head before my cochlear implant. This is a sensation impossible to explain to hearing people. The gist of it is that the world is too indecipherable to manage so one takes up permanent residence in one’s own safe, internal place, using a variety of ploys to fake hearing. This becomes easier to do the further one is from anything that matters, and the more invisible one becomes. People go on without you. And it doesn’t take very long to happen.

I don’t live in my head anymore, but I haven’t forgotten how. It’s comfortable in there, cozy even, undemanding, a cocoon. Until someone comes up the stairs behind me or I want to be visible, a person in the world.

21 Comments on “Deaf Sounds

  1. It is incredibly complicated. Hearing challenges run in my father’s family. My husband is deaf as am I and our daughter who lives with us, will tell you she has to say everything twice. We still manage to laugh a lot. Xxx

  2. Thank you! I have no idea what you (and others) are going through. And, I’m GLAD for the written word(s) – especially the ones you write, Jan.

  3. It’s also weird when you are married to someone who cannot hear you call him from down the hall and after he takes the equipment off at night, unless I can actually reach him physically, he has no idea what’s going on with me — or anything but his dreams. He is getting new ones hopefully in April. These are not working very well anymore. You’d think, considering the insane expense of the aids that they would last longer.

    But Garry’s hearing is as close to none as you can get. If I stand right next to him and shout as loudly as I can in his ear (the “good” ear), he can hear me, but mostly it tells him he should put his aids on because I need to talk to him.

    His hearing has hugely deteriorated in the past half year. It turns out the non-cochlear aid was broken and not working and since it was out of warranty, it was expensive. But I felt he should be without it. Even with it, though, he isn’t hearing much. He DOES hear The Duke barking. The Duke is very very loud. I need to talk louder.

    It gets complicated, doesn’t it?

      • Recalibrating didn’t help because his hearing has diminished — and also, I’m having some serious doubts about the quality of the manufacturer. This is far too early for these to be obsolete. I’m really hoping the new ones give him back more of his hearing. It seems to be a little worse every week.

      • Is he eligible for a new receiver for his implant. I got one a year ago – no cost – it works pretty well.

      • Yes. He gets a new cochlear device in April, but he has to pay for rest of the upgrade including a hearing aid for the “good” ear. But at least Medicare covers the cochlear receiver which would be the most expensive part.

      • Why cochlear implants are covered by Medicare and hearing aids aren’t is mystifying. I hope all goes well. It’s really an odyssey, that’s for sure.

      • It is. I at least more or less have a grip on the process, but all those people who don’t understand — it’s awful. We get some discounts on the hearing aid, but there will still be some hundreds of dollars left over.

  4. I thought your implant had taken care of the matter, Jan. My hearing has become worse over the years, but I’m still doing pretty well. I’m sure blogging fills some of the void for you. I always look forward to your blogs…

  5. Jan, even though I’ve known about your hearing loss for some time this was a touching, and much deeper look into the emotions you carry. Thank you.

  6. Yes, it’s very hard to imagine with an absence of sound. My hearing is pretty bad on one side and even that is challenging

  7. Wow, I didn’t know any of this, Jan. Thanks for cluing me in. We know a couple in our church in Florida, the wife is deaf. I often think how isolating it must be – maybe more so than being blind?

    • Interestingly, Helen Keller said being deaf was a bigger loss than being blind. Not sure I agree but, yes, very isolating.

      • I’m glad that you and I connect through the written word so that we can chose when we want to isolate ourselves. 🙂 I hope that makes sense to you.

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