Whole Lotta Noise

Way back in 2016 I upgraded my hearing aids from these, to these.

Over the last few months I noticed my hearing had suffered a bit of a drop-off. Either because my hearing aids are nearing the end of their life, or I’m losing a few more increments of my organic hearing ability after three-score-years-and-two of wear-n-tear.

I took myself off to my local Costco Hearing center (where I got the last pair of hearing aids) and had a hearing test. Turns out my hearing loss was a combination of the two above-mentioned possibilities.

So, now I am getting new hearing aids, and a new phone, because my trusty old iPhone5 is as much of a dinosaur as my old computer was, and won’t support all the high-falutin’ tech that my new ‘hearables’ require to function.

Luckily our cell-phone contract ran out a little while ago and we were in the process of looking around for a new best-and-cheapest option anyway. Here in Canada, it’s possible to have the cost of a new phone, (or most of it at least) incorporated into a monthly-fee service plan … which is a good thing because with all the money we’ve put out of late this wouldn’t been possible otherwise. New phones are obscenely expensive. (one of the reasons why we upgrade only when absolutely necessary)

The audiologist said something that’s stuck with me though.

She noted that even when I could hear something clearly, being in an environment that is filled with complex (human generated) sound is not exactly my cuppa tea. (I may have paraphrased that a little)

I remember when I was a child growing up in a very unsafe environment, I needed to be hyper-aware of my environment at all times, all of my senses on full alert, if I was to keep myself safe. (there wasn’t anybody else around, certainly no other adults who weren’t in compromised situations themselves … which also explains why I don’t feel overly comfortable with locked doors, or anything that restricts my movement … I mean, I get a bit twitchy if I can’t even get my rings off my fingers when I want to)

It’s no surprise that there’s a part of my psyche that considers loud background noise to be, at worst downright dangerous, and an intrusive annoyance at best.

I don’t mind loud natural noises, the ones that aren’t ridiculously loud that is. (an Aussie summer filled with deafening cicadas is not to high on my list, or exploding volcanoes, etc)

Human noise is drenched, not only in sound, but the energy behind the reasons for making those sounds. An energy that is unpredictable and yet so easily manipulated.

Definitely not my cuppa tea.

The Cost of Sound

My new hearing aids that I go all excited about a few posts ago have arrived.

These squiggly little things?

These squiggly little things?

The sound quality is streets ahead of my old ones – five years of technological advances in micro/audio electronics, baby! – and I don’t feel like my head is an echo chamber every time I talk. They’re so unobtrusive, I actually forgot I was wearing them the other day.

***

I am surrounded by sound.

Typing. I type loud! I reckon it comes from learning to type on a 20th Century clunky old electric typewriter. I did own a manual one …

I think mine was a boring cream colour

I think mine was a boring cream colour

… but thankfully transitioned fairly quickly to my trusty IBM

You could choose green, green, or green

You could choose green, green, or green

(my final typewriterly upgrade was to a Smith Corona daisy wheel before I switched entirely to a computer and keyboard)

***

The bell-tone of my fingernail brushing up against a ceramic bowl. The gurgle of hot water falling into my teapot. Walking barefoot across a carpet and hearing the floorboards underneath murmur to each other.

The sounds of my passage through my home are all soft.

Outside, gravel crunches, grass crackles, wind clunks tree branches together, cars rumble, birds sing, doors slam, children chatter, traffic screeches, the cacophony of a cafe, I swear I can hear the clouds letting go of raindrops …

When I get home I take the hearing aids out and feel the tension in my body dissolve into the familiar quiet.

***

This is gonna take some getting used to.

The filters I used to have to block out extraneous sounds slowly drifted away as my hearing deteriorated and I evolved different senses to navigate my everyday world.

These new little blue ‘ears’ that enable me engage with that world have their advantages and disadvantages. Phone calls and face-to-face conversations are easier, (although I’ll have to retrain my brain not to anticipate so much – filling in the words I didn’t hear) physically navigating through complex spaces (narrow isles in stores for example) is tricky – like my ‘sonar’ doesn’t work.

It certainly makes it easier for others to engage with me. (which for the purposes of this post is a separate issue from how far the differently-abled are expected to move beyond themselves in order to make the ‘other’ feel comfortable around them)

***

So, my external support devices:

Synthroid – for the missing thyroid organ. Walking stick – so I don’t fall over when my knee gives out. Hearing aids – see above. Glasses – three different kinds, driving, computer and reading. Four, if I count really close-up for crafts.

I am a cyborg of the 21st century!!!

***

Mirabeau - Ooooh, I can hear the Galaxy breathing! Widder – You’re hearing yourself. Mirabeau – No, it’s the Galaxy. It has a Scottish accent.

Mirabeau – Ooooh, I can hear the Galaxy breathing!
Widder – You’re hearing yourself.
Mirabeau – No, it’s the Galaxy. It has a Scottish accent.

Moar New Toys

Late last year my hearing aids turned up their toes, wandered out to the back paddock and shot themselves … thereby rendering me one of those annoying people who are constantly saying, “Eh?” when in civilised company.

Deceased hearing aids in their casket – awaiting a proper burial

Deceased hearing aids in their casket – awaiting a proper burial

It was time to bring in the new guns. The good news is that my hearing loss has remained stable for the last five years, and the wonder that is the Technology Age will enable me to go from a clunky hand held control device to an app that acts like a recording studio sound desk.

I’ll be wired for sound, baby!!!

This is neither my skin tone or hair colour, but it kinda is my style :)

This is neither my skin tone or hair colour, but it kinda is my style 🙂

The catch is that I have to upgrade my phone to a brand and generation that would allow the app to function … iPhone 5, here I come.

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And …

My desktop computer tower is getting a bit long in the tooth and the internal dvd player is all jammed up so we treated ourselves to a new external dvd player.

The best thing about it is the instruction sheet.

The money quote: ‘Do not put the machines on the vulnerable to squeeze place ...’ actually makes sense!

The money quote: ‘Do not put the machines on the vulnerable to squeeze place …’ actually makes sense!

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Coco the Community Cat paid us a visit on Christmas day. The Widderkins family were in abundance and we weren’t sure how she’d cope. (P.S. – She got all the pats and cuddles a fluffy cat could want – and then some)

Srsly? You think I’d run away from mere humans?

Srsly? You think I’d run away from mere humans?