The Sound of Silence

Hearing aids circa 1990

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.

The new high tech. Starkey Halo 2 hearing aid

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.

7 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence

  1. That was my mom’s favorite song.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. Is 45 days really long enough? I ask b/c Dad had more or less quit wearing hearing aids most of the time until Mom died. Then he wore hers for awhile, and also got exciting new ones (thank you Medicaid). He was also told the longer one went without, the less sound one might regain, and that they’d gradually crank them up. I’m getting the impression that he’s just now starting to hear effectively (even if not everything) — after three years. However, he’s a lot older than you and he also still takes them out a lot.

    • 45 days is all I get for a trial run. I can return the devices before time expires. The audiologist said he will pump up the volume bit by bit over time and that my brain should have caught up to some extent. Personally, I assume it’s going to take a long time like with your dad. I can’t imagine gaining/regaining word comprehension is going to happen in 6 weeks. But then the audiologist sings the manufacturer’s praises, so I’ll see.

      • We were talking about this last night — he has another upcoming appointment with the audiologist. Apparently he’s still only at 65% of what normal people hear (which would explain a lot) when they are on.

  2. Oh, glad you managed to find a much better model and hope the 45 days will give enough trial time to see if this model could work for you, fingers crossed! If not i hope a similar one would be suitable, thankfully there should be more options today. Crossing fingers the phone control ability will work but maybe it is not a deal breaker as long as you can otherwise control certain programs, ie for live performances vs indoor sounds etc.

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