Chasing Trails

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The last couple of days have been a bit different from the days before. When I switched to the next program on my cochlear implant, certain low frequencies sounded very different to how they were sounding. My brain needs to adapt again, nothing new there as it’s adapting constantly at the moment, but it was just a bit of a shock to have gotten used to one sound and then need to adjust to this new sound. If it continues, then I’m sure I can work on it with my audiologist next week.

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Just feel like I’m chasing trails at the moment. I catch a trail of a sound and then follow it to the source. Things are getting better, and I’m happy that I can already recognise a lot of the sounds for what they are – the clock ticking, the keyboard keys clacking, a car engine humming – but there are still sounds that I will hear and I have to chase it until I can find it. I ask ‘what’s that?’ a lot, and when I’m on my own I sometimes get completely distracted from what I am doing…and just listen to all these random noises.

There are many misconceptions about deafness, and I’ve come to realise that it’s actually understandable, especially in cases where there has been little to no exposure to deaf people. We live in a society that is still slow to change, but it is getting there. One of the misconceptions is that once you put your hearing aids in, or your cochlear implant on, that you can automatically hear everything around you, including speech. My experience with hearing aids wasn’t like that; sure, I could hear a lot, and between my brain remembering how things should sound (auditory memory) and what I was hearing, I was able to piece it together for most things. The flip side was that noisy environments were hectic; my hearing aids would pick up all the noise and just amplify it all, providing no clarity or distinction. Noisy environments ended up being relayed as a huge jumble of noise that I could barely sort through. If I was in a room full of people talking, then I would not be able to pick out individual voices unless I was close to the speaker and they were speaking loudly – and even then I still needed to lipread.

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With the cochlear implant, which has only been activated for 16 days, it is already a different experience to hearing aids and I’m still trying to find the words to explain it all. Hearing aids are really amazing pieces of technology, and they really help many people to stay connected to the world around them. The issue is when your hearing becomes so bad that hearing aids start to struggle to give you the clarity you need. When your hearing drops below a certain threshold, then you may find yourself searching for other solutions. After an assessment period at the hospital, I was deemed suitable for cochlear implantation back in July. However, I was still unsure at that point and I was given 6 weeks to decide whether I wanted to go ahead or not. (You can guess what the outcome was…)

Whenever I try to write about anything related to my deafness, words tumble out faster than I can catch them. There are some things that demand to be told, some stories that don’t want to live in the dark. When stories are pushed down and hidden inside of us, they become harder to tell. They might spill out at random moments, interrupting your sense of control. If you allow the stories to flow out of you, it can feel vulnerable but often leads to connection with others.

Writing can be my salvation when life is testing me. The words wrap around me like a blanket.

Don’t worry even if things end up a bit too heavy
We’ll all float on alright

~ Float On by Modest Mouse

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