It’s a Loud World

Cedar Park, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

The world is loud.

I never knew that before. I was born with a hearing impairment, not a really bad one, but just enough to make certain things annoying. Like when I had jury duty. Or talking to soft spoken people. Or eating with a friend in noisy restaurants. I probably could have gone my whole life without hearing aids, until I became a therapist. Then I realized it was just impractical to be with someone who just told me about something awful and emotional, sometimes their first time telling anybody, and have to say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”

I intended to get hearing aids back in Arizona, but then I found out we would be moving, and decided to put it off until I got to Texas.  Once here, I got tested by an audiologist, and got my first pair of hearing aids ever.  I told her that I primarily wanted them for work, or in as needed situations.  She laughed and said she was pretty sure that once I got used to them, I’d want to wear them all the time.

Um, no.

The world is a loud, loud place.  I never realized it before because I’ve always been insulated by my own limited hearing.  My first day, I wore the hearing aids for two hours, and then I had to take Excedrin from the pounding headache from being able to hear everything.

And they’re not even turned all the way up yet.

I’m so grateful for this wonderful technology, and I’m grateful that I had enough money in my HSA account to buy them.  But to wear them full time?  No.

You see, silence is one of my favorite things.  I love to sit and read or write or surf the internet in silence.  If I do put music on, it’s quiet.  I love being outside, but I can hear the birds chirping or the wind rustling in the leaves of the trees.  I can’t hear traffic.  Or my neighbors.

I knew that for me, hearing aids would primarily be a tool, but I didn’t realize how they would make me understand that my limited hearing has never been a limitation for me at all; it’s been a blessing.  I get to hear the world in a very different way than others do, and that’s not a bad thing.  When I want to hear more, I put my hearing aids in, and suddenly, the world is louder.  It’s easier for me to understand other people speaking and pull in background noise.  And when I take them out, the world is quiet again.

I asked my husband if he minded if I didn’t wear them at home, and he shrugged and said that after 14 years, he’s used to speaking loudly so that I can hear him.  ❤  I guess most of my friends are.

Back to my audiologist… it occurs to me again that it’s an extrovert’s world.  She assumed that I would like hearing and like connecting with the world around me, when it’s the opposite.  I don’t feel disconnected.  I connect with the people I want to and leave the rest in the background.  I don’t mind not knowing what’s going on behind me or around me.  I don’t mind missing background noises or sounds.  I like my life’s soundtrack to be quiet.

Where do you weigh in on silence vs noise?

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6 comments on “It’s a Loud World

  1. Mike says:

    As a former violinist, learning to hear background noise was a skill needed for proper intonation. But, after a session of varsity orchestra I would find myself always needing to escape the noise of the world so I developed this habit of keeping my headphones in all the time -even when I slept. The music wasn’t blaring in my ears, it was just loud enough to drown out background noise. I could have a conversation with someone a never miss a word. I don’t do this very often anymore, but I can still read a book with music playing in my ears and just lose myself in the words. The music playing in the headphones creates a buffer from the outside world.

  2. Alice Gerard says:

    I have an auditory processing disorder and hyperacute hearing. For me, too much noise is pain. There are certain frequencies that cause me excruciating pain, even when the sounds are not loud. Being in a noisy restaurant or any noisy place is frustrating, discouraging, and painful. I cannot tune out any background sound. I can sort of understand my companions by looking directly at their mouths but the effort is extremely exhausting and I usually end up with painful ears and so much overstimulation tht I cannot function. At my worst, I lose all perspective of where my body is in space. I do try to avoid very noisy places to avoid that sort of thing. As for silence, for me, there is no such thing as complete silence. I hear every ambient noise. For that reason, I prefer to listen to music when I am reading or when I am trying to concentrate on something, such as writing.

  3. gingerlondon says:

    Yes, the world is a loud place. Congratulations on being able to buy what you needed to help your hearing. Wear them as you deem necessary. Enjoy!

  4. This is such a great find for me. I have a speech therapist friend visiting me for a few days and we have been talking earlier this week about how great silence is. She lives alone and my husband travels quite often, so we are both reflecting on how nice it is to just have silence. It’s amazing how uncomfortable that is for some people, but I love it and can understand why you wouldn’t want things amplified on a continual basis.

  5. I have lived here in the “sticks” since the end of May. I live in the country where the only sounds are nature. I grew used to silence. No television, no radio, no mechanical noise of any kind. Recently I got electric and my boyfriend moved here. I miss the silence. I get very frustrated at the constant racket. I find talking and noises very distracting. He is used to city noises and conversation. I have found putting on ear buds or using ear plugs helps, but I just miss silence. I am glad I am not the only one who embraces the quiet.

  6. […] It’s A Loud World- My thoughts after getting my first set of hearing aids. […]

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