Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How Do You Deal With Noise?

I read Kym's blog post this morning titled What? I can't hear you!, and the subject has been rattling around in my mind all day.

Kym's classes are wearing her out. She has trouble understanding the teachers, and the assistance she's been given by her school isn't working out for her. At the end of the day, she says, "When I come home at the end of the night.  My eyes are tired, my head hurts and I'm frustrated.  It is all I can do to flop myself on the bed out of frustration and fatigue." She asks, "Who else feels this way?  Are you so tired at the end of the day from 'watching' that you just want to close your eyes and shut the world out?  Do you rip off your hearing aids and put them away, hoping to not have to wear them anymore?"

I do indeed sympathize with Kym and I think a lot of us do. Actually, I bet even hearing people do, and I think, in a way, the ability of people who wear hearing devices to "shut out" the hearing world can actually be a positive. A hearing person who is overwhelmed by the world, by demands on their day and loud coworkers, can't do much besides put some earplugs in and close their eyes.

I know a few deaf people who have told me that they regularly take out their aids, or decide not to wear them, or go long stretches of time without them. I can understand the motives behind it, but I never even considered it an option before I started this blog. Go without hearing aids? What would I do? People would expect me to hear. I wouldn't be able to hear the television. I wouldn't be able to carry on a conversation. I rely on my aids so much, and I never realized quite how much.

There were many times growing up, and even right now, that I do get tired of "watching," as Kym says. Keeping an eagle eye on everything happening. Feeling like I'm out of step, missing something. Wondering if everybody is having trouble hearing someone, or it's just me. Missing jokes. However, my first response isn't to take out my aids, it's to seek stress relief in other places - venting to my husband, reading, eating a piece of chocolate, or going somewhere relaxing (I can't wait to make a trip down to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, which is the one place guaranteed to relax me).

Sometimes it feels like I never get any quiet. Go anywhere, and there's noise. Air conditioners humming. People doing construction or repair work. People talking. Cars driving by. Sometimes I wonder how hearing people can function with noise all day and not go crazy. Occasionally I see mention of "our noisy world" in the newspapers, but for the most part, people simply go throughout their day, tuning out the background noise.

Chimney Meadows
So... what do you think? If you're tired of the noise, what do you do if you wear aids? Take 'em out or seek out external silence?


  1. I take my aids out every day after work to give my ears a rest. Often I need a nap too. Hearing aids can be exhausting.

  2. I take my hearing aids off sometime to rest my ears and take a break from loud noise.

  3. Thanks for posting this Megan, it is nice to see I am not the only one who gets frustrated and takes their hearing aids out to take a break...
    When I am home alone I NEVER wear them and that makes me happy.

  4. Hi Tina,

    I’ve written my own blog post inspired by this and Tina's (from funnyoldlife blog) post: http://funnyoldlife.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/seven-distracting-days/#comment-4999.

    Please let me know what you think: http://bee-communications.com/blog/?p=116.


  5. An interesting topic! What has been a revelation with my new cochlear implant is perception of noise. With my hearing aids, noise was often TOO noisy and I had to turn them down or take then off when it became overwhelming and I felt stressed with noise overload. I had headaches almost every day and would take the HAs off when I got home from work. I love going to the park with my dog because it's always quiet there.

    With the CI, I don't find anything too loud, just very noisy sometimes - it's definitely a lot easier to cope with loud noise and I have had one headache in 6 months - and that wasn't from noise overload or stress.

    I suspect hearing people can cope with the noisy world because sounds don't hit their overload button and because they also have the ability to tune out sounds they don't want to listen to.

  6. Lovely blog, by the way! Can I link yours to mine?

  7. Thank you guys for your wonderful comments. I think this is one of those things everybody deals with sometimes, but that we rarely talk about.

    Funnyoldlife - go for it! Thanks :)

  8. Sorry Megan! I forgot to change the Hi to Hi Megan not Hi Tina!! Hope you don't mind!

  9. I'm a bit late, but..
    I can totally relate. Occasionally after an especially stressful and noisy week, I will spend the day without my processors on, in dead silence (and in my PJs). It drives my family NUTS "How am I supposed to talk to you?!" That's the beauty of it...you can't :)

    I only do it on a day where I know I'm going to be doing mostly solitary things all day anyway (i.e., the occasional Sunday of catching up on hours of homework). I would never dream of going out without hearing in public, I'm just not comfortable. I would feel like I was still in my pajamas :P

  10. Funny, I first read "external silence" as "eternal silence" and thought "that's a bit drastic." I also get tired but don't like to take my aids out during the day. I do appreciate quiet places though, especially quiet restaurants!

  11. Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!


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