Back in the Jurassic Age, I was a lawyer. Courtrooms could be cavernous, swallowing up sound, so I plunked down money for state of the art hearing aids. That meant that they were molded in one piece and fit in the ear. I could control the volume on the piece and didn’t need a little black box that hung around the neck or fit in a pocket. I loved them until I realized they magnified all the noises I could already hear and nothing else. They drove me crazy. Into a drawer they went and years later, out with the trash.
So 27 years after my first failed experience, I decided to try again. Although I’ve been hearing impaired since birth (mostly deaf in the right, partially in the left), what remains has been gradually disappearing. Friends told me that I heard less. I found myself growing quieter and quieter in noisy social situations. I’d become so accustomed to the sound of silence that I didn’t realize how bad things were until the audiology test. To my dismay, the spikes and lines dipped much lower and the good ear had lost a great deal of word comprehension in noisy environments. Literature lying around warned that increasing deafness carried a higher risk of dementia. So I bought more state of the art digital hearing aids, fully programmable, and geared to amplifying the sounds I need. My geeky soul was thrilled. The audiologist stated he wouldn’t program the devices to full capacity so that the wall of noise wouldn’t knock me over. Instead he would increase the volume over a 45 day trial period which would allow my brain to adjust. Even so, the variety and loudness of sounds have been startling. Literally. I’ve jumped at every odd noise since beginning this post. Is the strangely loud washing really breaking down? I have clue.
Naturally my high tech gear has not come without glitches. The devices should be programmable with my iPhone allowing me to take calls and listen to music – that is if the damn phone will see them. One hour with the audiologist and two and half hours with Apple troubleshooting have yielded no fully functioning hearing aids. There’s another audiological appointment on Friday. Apple swears they are working on their end, and I’m about to bring Starkey, the manufacturer, into this. Needless to say, these iPhone friendly devices will be returned if they aren’t iPhone friendly soon.
All of this reminds me of another type of deafness which leaves people isolated in their personal bubble of silence. Simon and Garfunkel sang about it in Sound of Silence.