HEARING, IMPLANTS — AND WHAT’S THAT SOUND? – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of days ago, Garry had his one-month follow-up for his cochlear implant.

It’s hard to believe it’s just one month since the gear went on his head for the first time and it’s also hard to believe how much change there has been in his ability to hear in just one month.

I wish I had numbers of the actual percentage of change for each type of sound. Some of them were really shockingly good. My favorite was his ability to understand a complete phrase — something with context rather than a single word without context which went from zero — nothing — to 76%. That was the gigantic jump. It gave me goosebumps.

Individual words — no context — was closer to 50% (from zero). The hard one — the one which is always going to be a problem — was hearing what someone said when there is background noise, the kind you hear in a restaurant where a lot of people are talking. That was up to 20% from zero. I’m not sure if that will ever “top the charts” since as we get older — and by this I mean a collective “we” — our ability to hear one voice above many other sounds will diminish.

I won’t go to a restaurant where they constantly play music. I never liked it even when I was younger because it made conversation difficult. Since “going out to dinner” is one of the most common ways people get to know each other, why make it so much harder to hear the other person speaking? And this was when I had normal (if not slightly better than normal) hearing.

These days, I don’t hear as well as I did a few years back. I sometimes miss the beep from kitchen timers, and when the three dogs are barking, I can’t hear anything. I dislike noisy restaurants and live music when I’m out to eat will make me run from the room with my hands over my ears.

I suspect the music (especially loud music) played in restaurants is more to keep the staff moving than for the benefit of customers. I’m here to point out that it drives customers away.

I have a weird feeling that eventually, Garry with all his electronic gear in place will hear better than me.

Won’t that be an interesting turn of events!

Meanwhile, Garry can — in a quiet room — have a pretty normal conversation with a small group of people. How he will do at a party or in a large group? Or anyplace with nonstop background noise and music? Probably not so well. Otherwise, though, he can hear. The rain on the roof. The rush of a waterfall in the distance. The buzz of the washer and dryer in the basement and he can tell the difference between the washer (loud) and the dryer (soft).

He can hear the lyrics to songs assuming the lyrics are audible. He can watch TV with regular sound, not headphones — and is discovering that just because you are paid a lot to be a sportscaster doesn’t mean you don’t mumble.

It’s good news all the way around. He is doing as well as expected in most areas and better than most in several. Listening is more like work for Garry than for me. He has to try harder to catch the sounds, but the more he works at it, the better he gets.

But please, don’t everybody talk at once!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

37 thoughts on “HEARING, IMPLANTS — AND WHAT’S THAT SOUND? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Background noise is a problem with hearing aids too! My Santa Barbara friend is quite dear, and wears hearing aids — he puts a necklace on me with a speaker that beams to a blue-tooth in his hearing aid, then can turn off background noise. It must be absolutely wonderful for you to say things only once now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The restaurant background noise is a killer, Pat. Even people with normal hearing complain. Maybe we should star a protest with banners saying “No More Piped In Music – We came to have conversation and need to HEAR each other. KILL the music!”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My hearing is okay, although my wife gets annoyed at me because I keep saying “what?” or “huh?” after almost everything she says. And I’m hopeless in restaurants where the ambient noise is loud. Then I’ll just sit there and smile and nod my head, hoping that smiling and nodding are appropriate gestures for whatever is being said. I’m glad that Gary has such good results overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The whole ambient noise issue is ridiculous. I hated it even when I was a lot younger. All it does it make it hard to have a conversation and I do not understand why restaurants think we need elevator music to eat dinner. Are they afraid we don’t know how to talk? There are always cell phones, in case we’ve forgotten. We can text through the noise!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I “hear” you, Fandango. Years and years ago, it used to be some restaurants offered pleasant “mood setttting”music- BACKGROUND music for romantic dinners. That all changed and it’s like “The Music Man” is rehearsing in your favorite restaurants.

      I’ve always done the nods, headshakes and phony smiles when I couldn’t hear a bloody thing. It’s become second nature. It used to be part odf my television shtick — when they were shooting “reversals” or “cutaways” of me listening to my subject. It’s still a TV thing.

      Now, I can actually hear.But I have to patiently let everything register in my brain before responding. I was guilty of not waiting to hear everything and my responses – to Marilyn especially — were frequently inappropriate. It’s part of my year long rehab and adjustment. It’s not easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s fantastic what this technology can do, isn’t it? I guess that background noise will always be a problem as it is a nuisance even for those of us with normal hearing. If I go out for a meal I don’t want to find myself straining to listen to a conversation over the sound of loud music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Tas, I just mentioned that the “background” music is a nuisance for people with normal hearing It’s no longer background music. It’s blaring surround sound. I’ve often complained and management seems puzzled. Maybe they’ll all hearing impaired. I think they play BIGLY loud surround sound at the White House, in the Oval Office, for obvious reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Scribbles, you’re a young person but that doesn’t stop the bus from leavvng the station. Yes, you should get an audiology exam. Deal with it before it become worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such good news! We are so lucky to live in an age of so many technological advances.
    On the other hand, I have walked out of more restaurants lately because of the noise! Part of the issue is the new “stylish” decor, with high ceilings, hard floors, hard and smooth walls. The reverberation is impossible! Bring back carpets, acoustic tiles, tablecloths and soft, soft music!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could happily go with NO music. They always make it too loud — and unless you are there specifically to listen to it, live music is lethal to human hearing. You don’t need to be deaf to be unable to hear anything at dinner. It’s sort of funny. We don’t have much money, so we don’t go out very often, but even when we WANT to go out, there’s nowhere we want to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad the implants are working for him. His hearing aid looks geeky, but now that’s an acceptable thing. Before mobile phone’s talking out loud by yourself was considered crazy. I understand about the loud music in restaurants. My writing group meets in a tea cafe. We sometimes ask that they turn the music down a notch so we can hear each other. A first date in that place? Forget about it!

    Liked by 1 person

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