Yesterday we went to breakfast to celebrate the official start of winter break for my youngest, whom we picked up from college the afternoon before. It was a Saturday morning around 9 am, and our favorite place was absolutely packed. If it’s not crowded and we haven’t been waiting 15 minutes to be seated, we usually ask for a booth to help minimize some of the background noise. Yesterday, though, we just accepted the table we were offered when it was finally our turn to be seated. A table in the middle of the room.
Paige asked me something, I responded, and she said, “What?” This is my kid with super-hearing, the one who can hear us whispering downstairs when she’s upstairs in her room with the door shut and her headphones on. (Seriously, this has happened – often she will yell, “I can hear you!” in an aggrieved voice, if we happen to be discussing her.)
“I’m not talking loud enough, am I?” I asked. She shook her head no. “But is it really loud in here – even for you?” She agreed that yes, even for a Hearing Person it was really loud (and “annoying,” to use her term). Still though, I know this was partly on me because ever since I got ClearVoice programmed into my cochlear implants, I speak much softer.
If I had to pick any kind of a negative about ClearVoice, that would probably be it – certainly nothing to really complain about. But because the restaurant sounds were muted for me thanks to CV, and my own voice sounded plenty loud, I was really not speaking loud enough to compensate for the background noise.
My own voice now sounds much louder to me, and if I raise my voice (especially for Dave, who needs that extra volume because he’s hard of hearing) it sounds to me like I’m yelling. I always feel kind of bad if he asks me to repeat myself and I do so in a much louder voice; it feels like I’m yelling my repeated sentence and I worry he’s going to think I’m pissed at having to repeat myself. Obviously, that’s not the case – I know what it’s like to need something repeated, and I would feel terrible if the people I spoke to were aggravated with me for having to say everything again.
I’m not sure this is something I can remember to do on a regular basis. As a deaf person, I’m always worried that I’m shouting and as a hard of hearing person before I went deaf, I know I used to talk too loud at times. Now that my own voice sounds so much louder to me, it goes against every fiber of my being to raise my voice even more!
When I went completely deaf, that was probably the most upsetting adjustment for me. I was used to lip-reading already (although it’s much more difficult with no sound at all to help you) but I’d never had a hearing loss bad enough that I couldn’t hear myself talk, or clear my throat, or click my tongue, or chew my food. Having that absence of sound deep inside you – it’s something I can’t even explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced it. It was horrifying to me the first time I spoke and realized I couldn’t hear myself at all. I couldn’t tell if I was slurring my words, yelling, giving the right inflection to words, if my voice was hoarse and not clear – it was awful and I just wanted to cry and never speak again.
It’s weird going back and forth between deaf and hearing when I have my CIs off or on. (Right now I have them off because I’m waiting for my hair to dry. Paige has been coming up to talk to me and I have to stop and turn to read her lips, unlike when I have my CIs on and can just talk to her without even looking up.) After four years of deafness, I’m used to it now when I speak and hear nothing coming out of my mouth. I just ask the person I’m talking to if my voice is the proper volume. I can usually tell if my inflections are correct by the way it feels in my throat. I do tend to clear my throat more just in case I’m hoarse and I can’t tell.
But if I’m out at a loud restaurant in the future, I guess I need to remember to TALK LIKE THIS. 🙂