Back when I was at Mary Hare sixth form, my dorm mate Fi would instantly reach for her hearing aid upon waking.
“Do you really need that in so early?” I’d ask.
“I can’t live without it!” She exclaimed!
Seriously? She can’t live without her hearing aid? I wondered.
Fast forward all these years and when the hubby and I were recently discussing what objects we would have to take if we were stranded on a desert island, he listed his iPhone as his first choice whereas I chose… my hearing aids. (And batteries of course!)
So what’s changed? Why can I no longer live without my hearing aids? Well, I’m more deaf for a start. Plus I’ve got kids and any kind of silence is suspicious…
But the fact that the thought of being without my hearing aids induced a wave of panic inspired me to take on a challenge.
24 hours with no hearing aids.
Ultimately, it’s 24 hours in silence! And I couldn’t hole up like a hermit at home, that would be far too easy. Besides we had plans and a restaurant date. Eek!
So what did I discover? And more to the point could I stop myself from popping my hearing aids back in? Read on to find out.
1. Hello Tinnitus. It’s a common byproduct of deafness; the whooshing, ringing, rumbling and sometimes screaming in your ear holes. I’d forgotten how constant and peculiar my tinnitus is and how overwhelmingly LOUD the ringing can be. Took a while to get used to but after some distraction techniques I’d forgotten it was there…
2. I had no idea how loud my voice was. Ordering in a restaurant, I felt vulnerable without sound… how do I know how loudly or quietly to speak? I decided to jump right in anyway and asked (shouted!) for an Amazonian mocktail with relative ease. Answering the bartender when he asked me random questions, however, was a different matter…
3. I wasn’t so confident lipreading anymore. We all know that lipreading is mostly guesswork but I realised that the odd sounds I’d been hearing via my hearing aids had been useful cues especially when it came to lipreading new people. So in the end I asked my hubby to “interpret” for me (even though he’s deaf-er than I am!) and with some gestures and telepathy we managed to figure out what the bartender was saying.
4. My ears felt freeeeee! I hadn’t noticed how blocked up and plugged in I felt with 2 hearing aids in all day long. Yet when I spoke now – even though I couldn’t hear myself – my voice felt clearer and less nasally. I particularly enjoyed belting out The Phantom of the Opera and not having my hearing aids cut off when I sang too loudly. Oh and my sunglasses also fit better on my ears too which was aesthetically pleasing 😉
5. It was so much easier to drift off into my own world. This was a strange one but being in silence all day had a dream-like, surreal quality to it. I associate silence with sleep, and so I felt like I hadn’t fully woken up. I daydreamed more and went into my own bubble of thoughts and creative ideas. Which is great being a writer! But if you’re always feeling disconnected from the world you do need an anchor somehow.
During these 24 hours I admit I was very tempted to whip my hearing aids back in. So much that I even carried them in my handbag when we went out… just in case!
Watching the television in silence, I noted I could still detect accents and I began to “imagine” soundtracks and Muzak playing. My brain even imagined how people’s voices sounded!
And the next morning after I’d completed the challenge, I ate my brekkie in comfortable silence and completely forgot that there was an option to hear sounds.
Could I live without my hearing aids? If I really had to? I reckon I could. And on the off chance that there was ever an apocalyptic event that wiped out the worlds supply of hearing aid batteries, it’s probably a good thing not to be so attached to them anyway.
But in the case of going to a desert island, knowing me I’d still probably sneak them into my backpack… for emergencies, of course!
What would you take to a desert island?