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Whazzat?

How’s my life going with a cochlear implant (CI)?

Well, for starters—although I can’t speak for other recipients—it’s a lot LOUDER.

But at only 32 days since activation, most familiar sounds bear little resemblance to how I hear them acoustically through my hearing aid. The voices of strangers sound curiously alike, as if they’re crying while they speak. What I hear do hear clearly, however, are those high frequency sibilant sounds. Think of the hiss of snakes and steam and the grocery checkout woman who asks “do you want bagss-SSS?”  I groan f I’ve forgotten my sound-less cloth bags in the car; paper bags are noisy enough, but the loud crackling of plastic bags has become my Most Annoying Sound ever. In Wired for Sound: A Journey into Hearing, my friend Bev Biderman writes about her surprise at their harshness—she had expected that they “rustled softly in peace.”

On the plus side, I can hear butter melting in a pan—yes, yellow makes a sound! I hear water running in a sink which lessens the chance of my flooding the kitchen again. And after years of theatre-going, I now understand the fuss about people opening candy wrappers during the show. I hereby apologize to anyone, ever, who has suffered because of my oblivious, thunderous opening of candy and chips at the movies.

I’m also hearing lots barmping. ‘Barmp’ is what Newfoundlanders do when they lean on their car horn. Say ‘barmp’ out loud, drawing out the “arrr”. What you just said—ba-aar-rmp—perfectly describes what I’m hearing through my CI.

Me (in my dad’s house):  Whazzat?

Louise, my sister: The fridge coming on.

Me:   Oh, good heavens, WHAZZAT?

Louise:   Dad listening to the obituaries on the radio. (Loudly. With organ music. But he’s 90 and losing friends fast; who’s going to ask him to turn it down?)

Me (in the car with the Hearing Husband):  Whazzat?

HH:     What’s what?

Me:     That ba-aar-rmp!

HH:     The car motor. And air brakes on big trucks. Also, drivers barmping their horns.

Me:     That’s a lot of barmping.

There are exciting moments when I identify a sound all by myself. On a walk with the Hearing Husband, I heard a chittering sound, like birdies over there in the bushes. He said no, look up, it’s Canada geese flying over. I said I could hear them barmping, this was something different. He listened—and there were little birdies in the bush. Score one for Gaelie!

Continue reading this article on the Better Hearing Consumer….

I Dreamt I Had Hearing Loss!

I woke up with a shock the other morning.

Actually, the shock didn’t happen right away, because I was thinking about my cool dream of being interviewed for a position as nanny for Justin Trudeau’s kids. (For those not up on Canadian politics, Justin is our Prime Minister.)

 

The jolt came when I realized that during this interview with Justin and his wife Sophie, I kept asking them to repeat themselves.  I was hard of hearing—in my dreams!  Then the second shock wave hit:this was unusual! In most of my sleeping adventures, I get what’s being said the first time, every time—no hearing loss. Like most people, my dreams are wacky—for example, I’d be the world’s worst nanny—but at least the Dream-Me communicates more easily than Awake-Me.

Wow.

Why can I hear more easily in sleepy-land?  Is it because deep down, I want my hearing back? (Actually, that’s not so deep down.) Or is it because in the strange world of the brain, I simply don’t need to actually hear words to understand them while sleeping. Or is it simply that I can ‘hear’ in dreamland for the same reason that I can also breathe underwater and fly in the sky merely by flapping my arms?

 

Click here to continue reading this post on HearingHealthMatters.org.

The Joy of Writing (About Hearing Loss)

As I was working on the final draft of my new book,  my writing room changed frequently—from our home office to the front seat of the truck pulling our camper through the mountains, at the camper’s dining table as deer munched on grass 20 feet away, in the cottage while  everyone else was out in the sun.  The Hearing Husband would tactfully push me into my daily writing with, “So, what time are you writing this afternoon? I’ll go for a walk.”  Then of course I had to do it, because I couldn’t say “I’m not going to write today” without a good reason. Laziness wasn’t an acceptable excuse, nor was having to feed the baby, who was now 18 and capable of getting the spoon to his mouth all by himself.  Or, if he felt I’d been working too hard for too long, hunched over my laptop, he would try to divert my attention.  Driving through Yellowstone National Park:

Look honey, there’s a bear!”

Me (looking up): “Is it Yogi Bear?”

“No, it’s a grizzly! On the hill looking for berries!”

Me (back at computer): “Grizzly, shmizzly. When you see Yogi and Boo Boo, let me know.”

For the complete post at HearingHealthMatters.org, click here…..