My new audiologist assures me that my brain will learn to stop paying attention to background sounds like fans over time. The strategy that I'm using is to have only one program for my hearing aids. Before I had an additional program to use in noisy situations. I ended up using it as my default setting. I didn't give my brain a chance to adapt to these "new" sounds. Right now I'm in an adjustment period, but I'm determined to give this a chance to work.
Here's a description of various sound environments I've encountered during the last two weeks.
- Outdoor Environment
My hearing aids are a pleasure to wear outdoors. The day after I got them, I had a conversation with a neighbor I had never met before which is something I would definitely have avoided in the past. I was able to hear her just fine. When I walk my dog Rusty, I can hear his tag jingle against his collar ring. I have never heard that before. I asked my husband if it was a new sound because Rusty just got a new collar for his birthday, but he says it's always sounded like that. I am hearing bird song as melody rather than individual tweets. I had to laugh at myself the other day when I told a friend about listening to the cicadas. I exclaimed on how musical they were and not so overwhelmingly noisy. My friend pointed out there's a whole lot less of them around this time of year. Oops. I haven't encountered any weed wackers or snow blowers so far but lawn mowers aren't too bad.
- Inside the House
The microwave timer sounds different than I remembered. It's much easier to hear as is my oven's timer. The television's sound is better. I'm understanding my husband and son's speech much more easily. When I first got my new aids, my husband washing dishes in the sink was so loud, I asked him to stop. I know what you're thinking, I must be crazy! Well, rest assured, I wised up quick. Now when water is running and the dishes are clanking against each other, I turn my hearing aids down a couple settings to cope. The worst noise of all in the house for me is our bathroom fan. It's unbearable. Unfortunately, the fan comes on whenever the light is on. I'd really like to get that fixed. Until then, the bathroom fan is my biggest challenge in the house.
- In the Car
I have discovered my car makes a sound when you start up the engine to remind you to put your seatbelt on. I had never heard that before. I actually get a kick out of hearing it in the morning. I'm sure that will wear off but for now it's a novelty. I have the car radio turned to a lower volume level - by as many as 10 settings at time. Unfortunately, I am not yet able to enjoy music on the radio or easily understand what the broadcaster's are saying, no matter what volume setting I try. I have to admit, that's been a bit of a disappointment to me. More times than not, I am leaving the radio off. Road noise on highways is loud but not as loud as it was with my previous aids. I feel like I am coping with it. Before I used to take my hearing aids out when I was driving on highways. Surprisingly, a squeaking noise that I heard my brakes making before is actually less audible now. I have no explanation but it does help me understand why when I had a friend listen to the brake noise, he said everything was fine and didn't seem at all concerned about the noise I was hearing.
- In my Cubicle at Work
I have two challenges there. One is a space heater. Almost every day my work area is so cold, I turn a space heater on to keep warm. It took me a while to adjust to this sound with my previous aids (remember my comment about program 2) and I'm having to start over again with this pair. Sometimes I recite my audiologist's words - my brain will learn to ignore this noise - repeatedly to myself like a mantra. Sometimes I turn my left hearing aid down a setting or two. The other problematic sound is the HVAC system. Currently it sounds as though a vacuum is going constantly. I'm working on ignoring that too. On the plus side, I can more easily detect when someone is nearing my desk.
- Best Buy electronics store
This place was a nightmarish cacophony of sounds for me. I actually felt as though I were in physical pain and had to leave the store before my husband was finished browsing. This is not the place to go when you are adjusting to new hearing aids. Just take my word for it.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear the choir singing. I really missed that part of the service previously. The only solution for me was to sit right next to them. But naturally my regular pew was on the other side of the church and creature of habit that I am, I was much more comfortable there. I should also add that regular pew was a better spot for hearing the sermon. With my new aids in, the sounds of church - papers rustling and the congregation reading aloud in unison - did not bother me as they had before.
I hope that helps convey a bit of what my listening experiences have been like in the first two weeks of adjusting to my hearing aids. Drop me a question in the comments section if I overlooked a setting that you're curious as to how it sounds. As always, I welcome your comments and advice.