The times I feel ‘least deaf’ are actually the times when I am most deaf. Allow me to explain…
When my partner’s at home, I tend to use my hearing aids all day so that I’m ready for any interaction. If he comes into a room to speak to me, I want to be able to know what he’s saying, so, wearing my aids at all times seems a reasonable course of action.
Before I got Bi CROS hearing aids (after going suddenly deaf in one ear and already having little hearing left in my other ear), he was forever making me jump by seeming to ‘suddenly appear’ out of thin air. Now with my hearing aids in, I still don’t always hear him entering a room but, I usually have a general sense of where in the house or garden he is so, jumping out of my skin is a less common occurrence these days. These are the days when I have my hearing aids in all day from getting dressed to getting ready for bed. On these days, I feel that I am always listening; I’m on constant ‘high alert’ ready to hear the next sound — the doorbell, the dog barking, a question directed towards me and, even with the hearing aids, it’s quite exhausting.
When my partner’s away, however, it’s a whole different ball game. I have days on end of never putting my hearing aids in — and it is bliss! Obviously, having the choice to put them in again at any given moment is the key to being able to enjoy the time without them (as I would still freak out if the batteries went while I was out and I didn’t have any spares and I would totally freak out if I suffered sudden deafness in the other ear) but this ‘elective silence’ is different and it’s strangely liberating.
Without my hearing aids, there’s very little I can hear so without them, I kind of tell myself that there’s nothing to hear and so I stop actively listening. If I have something to do to occupy my mind, at these times, I don’t always notice my tinnitus, which is a bonus.
When I’m not using my hearing aids, I can still hear my own voice (well, on one side I can) and I find that reassuring (as I can easily test that I haven’t gone totally deaf at any time by simply speaking). Also, it means I can prattle away to the dog quite happily and, as she doesn’t answer back with anything other than looks and licks, it’s all good. She doesn’t need me to be able to hear and, in the event of someone coming to the door, she will let me know so, when we’re home alone I go ‘sans aids’ and I stop worrying about what I should or shouldn’t hear.
I’m a writer, so I spend my days at the computer and I can easily get lost in a world of words. Hours go by without me noticing and I’m usually only stirred by thirst, hunger or comfort breaks for me and the dog. And, when I’m home alone, without my ‘ears’ in, I completely forget that I am deaf.
The world I’m creating on the screen takes over and I hear the internal monologue of the protagonist or narrator: I have no need for any other sort of hearing when I’m doing this and that is where liberation comes.
I also get the same sense of freedom if I do gardening without my aids but I don’t feel able to allow myself this pleasure very often for fear of offending the neighbours if they speak to me and I fail to reply, so I usually suffer the discomfort of a sweaty ear on the off-chance that they’ll want to speak to me (and they usually do).
What I’ve found after a day at the computer without my aids in is that I’m reluctant to then put them in for cooking or watching TV. I’ll pootle about the kitchen, making myself something to eat and will happily watch TV with the subtitles on — or, more likely, read a book. It’s only when I take the dog for a walk that I feel obliged to grab my aids: after all, I don’t want to get run over while I’m out and about!
So, while I’m truly grateful for the wonderful technology Phonak has created which enables me to interact with other people, watch TV and cross the road safely, I hope they don’t mind me saying that every now and then, I do enjoy a day off!
If you’re a hearing aid user, do you ever take the day off from them? Do you find it relaxing or more stressful?