I don’t wear my CIs to bed, so every night I abruptly descend into silence. First one CI comes off, and I carefully nestle it into its special case. The sounds around me completely change, because if I’m just wearing one CI it makes a huge difference…it’s like a completely different environment, sound-wise. The minute I slide the headpiece from its grasp on the internal magnet on the second side, there’s complete and total silence.
It’s hard to describe how weird it is to go from hearing the cats purring (because there’s always one or two cats already in residence on the bed…they share it with ME of course, not the other way around), hearing Dave breathing and/or talking to me (depending on if he’s already asleep), hearing various environmental sounds (the furnace running, rain outside)…to hearing nothing. Even my tinnitus is pretty much silent…I might get a soft little sound here and there but it’s nothing compared to the loud cacophony I dealt with before my CIs were activated.
Once my CIs are off, I’m back to wondering how loud I’m talking, lip reading Dave, feeling the cats to see if they are purring. It makes pillow talk pretty much impossible. There’s no conversation after we turn the lights out, and if I want to talk to Dave at this point I have to make sure the light is on and I wear my glasses so I can lip read him. If I take off my glasses to read before bed, all I see past the inch or so in front of my face is blurred colors.
Complicating matters is the fact that Dave also has a hearing loss. (This is a post I’ve been composing in my head for a while – the difference between being in a relationship where both people have hearing loss versus one where one partner hears fine and the other has a hearing loss, since I’ve experienced both.) He’s got his hearing aid out, so I have to hope I’m talking loud enough for him to hear me. Because of this, we don’t usually have in-bed conversations that we don’t want Paige to overhear. Unlike us, she has natural super-hearing and seems to hear everything, even behind closed doors. If we mention her name at all in conversation, we’ll hear her yelling out (from wherever she is in the house), “I can hear you!”
I’ve always been a little sad that we’ve never been able to whisper to each other in the dark and just quietly converse late at night. Even before I went deaf it was difficult to talk with the lights out, unless we were both pretty much yelling (not very romantic). Now though, it’s not even an option.
On the bright side, it’s pretty awesome to go to sleep and never hear snoring, the sounds of the dog snuffling and licking, birds outside (which, let’s face it, are not fun to listen to when you’re trying to sleep in the morning). I always have total silence when I sleep, barring some minor tinnitus when I’m first waiting to drift off.
Of course, I can’t listen to music to soothe myself to sleep (something I used to do when I was younger), and I can’t hear the smoke detector if it goes off. I can’t hear the phone or the doorbell, so if somebody calls or comes by, I have no idea. Well, I do have a dog! If I’m sleeping lightly, I wake up when Toby jumps up and starts barking if we have a visitor, because I can feel him bouncing around on the bed. He doesn’t bark for the phone, but then again, I don’t use the phone so I really don’t care if it rings.
I was trying to decide which I prefer…the total silence that I have at bedtime, or would I prefer to be able to hear? I’ve never had good/perfect hearing at bedtime anyway, but for most of my life I was able to hear somewhat. Even though it’s a little nerve-wracking that I can’t hear if there’s an emergency of some kind, I still think I actually prefer my total silence at night.