I Can’t Hear Like You

Sometimes I wonder, what is it like to listen, to have the ability not only to hear but to also comprehend words while someone speaks. What is it like to listen without filling in the blanks, reading lips, and dealing with deaf anxiety?

I sometimes even try to imagine what my favorite song actually sounds like.

While I know we all hear sounds in different levels, can those with normal hearing hear the same things identically, or do they hear them differently?

I have been wearing aids for about 15 years. Even after all these years, one of my greatest frustrations with hearing aids is that what you hear with your ears is different from what you hear with hearing aids. When I wear my headphones and play music at the highest volume possible to hear sounds, I notice the sounds I hear with my ears are a lot smoother and more natural than the sounds coming from my hearing aids. And every time I get a new set of hearing aids, I need to learn to accept and adapt to its sounds. Some hearing aids’ sounds seem electronic, noisy, too soft, and/or unclear; I can go on and on.

Can you imagine learning how to speak and learning the sounds of objects with audio devices that make things sound electronic? Can you imagine trying to relearn them over and over again each time when changing hearing devices? Many hearing aids and cochlear implant users must relearn sounds and deal with avoiding background noises. We practice a lot of patience and learn to take things slow because we need to train and give our minds time to adjust to new hearing or implanted devices.

Do I wish to be hearing? No, I don’t, but there are moments in life when I wish I could hear certain things.

I sometimes find hearing sounds unpleasant; it can be overwhelming and cause me to panic. A lot of people ask me why I startle a lot when I hear things. The thing is, being deaf is all I know. Any sounds I hear are unexpected.

It took me many years to learn that sound exists. I learned to speak, walk, write, and do many things before I knew that about its existence. When I was younger, I could only guess how some things sounded.

The older I get, the more I want to learn about speech and audio. When I hear things with my hearing aids, I hear them as a whole. I cannot hear the details or location of sounds, and I cannot tell the number of sounds. It’s hard to put into words how I hear things. Most of the time, when I watch TV, I watch on mute. I enjoy it a lot more, depending on the show or movie. I often recreate sounds in my head. So, having an audio description for sounds/music helps me visualize and play them in my mind to enjoy them in a way that I understand. And for everyday conversation, I rely on sign language, lip-reading, and other assistive technologies like Comunify to assist me with words comprehension.

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