No matter how good your hearing aids, there will always be some sound distortion, which is unfortunately directly proportionate to one’s hearing loss.
A pretty good example of this would be my bi-weekly swim class. I swim unaided. There are about fifty women in my class. You can imagine how the locker room sounds afterwards; women chatting, water and hair dryers running, locker doors squeaking open and slamming shut, toilets flushing. I hear none of that. I shower, wipe off, get dressed and dry my hair all in relative peace enjoying alternate sensations of the locker room experience—a warm shower, combined smells of body lotion and chlorine, hot air on my scalp.
Finally dried and dressed, I put in my hearing aids. ACCKK! NOISE! PAIN! Shower water blasts against tile. A bathing suit drying machine spins into hammering thumps. Fifty hair dryers sound like jet engines revving to take off. Metal lockers clang open and shut continuously, as women shout to each other over the din. I head for the quiet peace of my car as quickly as possible.
It has been six months since I got the Phonak Naidas. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the noise. While I am extremely grateful for the new clarity in speech understanding, I have to admit many other environmental sounds are unpleasant. A normal ear miraculously filters out all that unwanted noise. People with normal hearing might be vaguely aware, but locker room noise is not painful to them. There are no words to describe what I hear. The technology that allows me to hear t’s and s’s, called frequency transposition, is relatively new to the human experience. It is anything but natural. Nothing can replace natural hearing.
I am mostly happy with my hearing aids, but I’m just as happy to take them off when communicating with other people isn’t crucial. I have the option to turn on my aids and socialize, or to enjoy the quiet. All too often I choose quiet.