Noise Pollution, Silent E, Rash, and 180 degrees

I know I haven’t blogged in a while. As you all know December can get a bit crazy at times. I had a great Christmas with friends and family.

I’m going to touch on a few topics that came up recently in discussions with friends.

Noise Pollution

There are days where I really appreciate my CI then there are days where I feel the CI is worthless. I have realized that those moments where I feel the CI is worthless is when there’s background noise. With hearing aids I generally would pick out maybe two noises at the same time (all the noises blending together would form one noise and then a person talking next to me would be the second noise). I never really understood why people complained about background noise.

Now I understand.

And it drives me bonkers.

I now hear so much more and am still trying to figure out how to break that huge tangle of sounds down so I can hear a certain person talking. For example, in a restaurant…I may hear conversations overlapping, kitchen noises, forks clanking on dishes, vehicles driving by outside, air condition/furnace, people behind me talking, people besides me talking, people walking past me, babies crying, chairs, etc.

Now, how in the world can I pick out which sound is which? It usually takes me a while to pinpoint what is what. In cases like this I rely almost entirely on either lipreading or sign language.

I have noticed recently that I can pick out the waiter/waitress’ voices and the voices of people who are sitting directly next to me about 50% of the time. This compares to 0% the first few months I got the CI.

It just constantly amazes me how noisy this world is. Especially when a person next to me is on the phone and I can hear the voice of the person they’re talking to.

Silent E

I never really understood the concept of silent Es. I pronounce words as I see them. Meaning that when I speak…I visualize the word in my mind and pronounce each letter. Growing up, I used to complain about silent Es all the time because I was always being corrected for saying E’s when I wasn’t supposed to. What was the purpose of Es if you didn’t even say the E while pronouncing the word?!?

I decided to look something up about silent Es the other day and I finally understand the purpose of it.

I’m starting to appreciate the complexity of our spoken language. Even though I knew about phonetics and was expected to memorize the rules in school….it didn’t mean I necessary understood. I’m starting to understand a bit better. My general line of reasoning was that if there are 26 letters then there should only be 26 sounds. I didn’t always understand the long and short vowels or how certain combinations of 2 letters created a specific sound rather than 2 different sounds.

I still pronounce words the way they’re written….a bit tough to change that 20+ years habit. However, I am starting to understand why people struggle to understand my speech and why people sometimes spell words incorrectly based on how they hear them (e.g. two/to/too).

I feel like I’m doing it backwards. Most people grow up learning spoken language and then they learn how to simplify it in written language. I grew up with written language and am just now starting to understand how each written letter almost oversimplifies our spoken language…if that makes any sense.


I have been working on an auditory training program on and off for a bit. More details on that at some point.

Anyways, my primary goal with the CI is to improve my lipreading ability with auditory input. I have mentioned many times…I have never ever understood words (aside from ok, yes, no, and occasionally my name) without lipreading. I have been deaf every single minute of my life both in and out of the womb. At age 26, is it really possible to have a realistic goal of understanding spoken language without any lipreading?

It’s pretty far fetched.

I have been surprise that I’ve understood 4 random words without lipreading in the past 9 months. More than I ever expected. The word that caught me by surprise happened a couple of weeks ago.

The first 3 words I understood without lipreading…I did have some additional clues (e.g. knowledge of topic being discussed, awareness of the situation, etc.) which helped out. However, I had no clue whatsoever for this particular word…not even a closed set list or context or sentence. NOTHING.

I was doing a specific auditory training exercise on the computer where 3 words are spoken and you have to pick which one sounds differently. It forces you to really listen and learn how to listen.

I think they may use different speakers sometimes too which makes it tough (not 100% sure though).

Anyways, you don’t know which words are said unless you miss them. You have no idea what sort of words are being said except that they are usually simple words with vowels in the middle.

Some examples:
Hoot, Hot, Hot
Veal, Veal, Val
Sass, Sauce, Sauce
Hog, Hug, Hug
Conn, Conn, Cone

I was listening to a set of 3 words and I missed it. Every once in a while I’ll try and see if I can guess which letters are present. I guessed rash without really thinking about it or any hints as to what sort of word was being said.

I actually got it right. How about that?!? 🙂

180 Degrees

Earlier this year I went to Colorado to do some camping and hiking. I had blogged about how I didn’t really want to mess with the CI on that trip. I almost didn’t bring it with me but in the end I did.

I’m leaving for Colorado Wednesday to go snowboarding with a few friends. I don’t wear my CI when snowboarding because…it’s so easy to lose the CI when you’re likely to wipe out while snowboarding 😉

I actually found myself thinking that I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of going practically all day for a week and half without wearing the CI. A full turnaround from how I felt when I went to Colorado over the summer!

Yet another sign that after 9 months…I’m so much more comfortable with the CI.

I may not be able to blog for a couple of weeks. Hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year’s!

2 thoughts on “Noise Pollution, Silent E, Rash, and 180 degrees

  1. One thing that I've learned in Minneapolis is that snow absorbs sound– when it snows, the whole world is quieter. Maybe you can't wear your CI when you're snowboarding, but see if you agree with me the next time it snows in Kansas (I think it works better with new snow). I know there's a plateau for learning things with the CI but is it actually flat? I guess what I'm saying is will you still be picking up new things when you're 60? I hope so! Who knows how far you can get in 40 years…

  2. Wow, it really is like learning another language! You might appreciate an analogous story here…I ended up studying Spanish in college, and spent a semester in Costa Rica. In English, I'm pretty good at filtering spoken conversations from background noise and at filling in gaps in a conversation (say I tuned out for a sec or something loud happened in the middle of a sentence). In Spanish, I couldn't do it at all! In a large crowd, I couldn't follow just one thread of conversation, but would be bouncing between whichever was loudest at the moment. Or if a truck rumbled down the street during a TV show, I had no idea what I'd missed. It's fascinating how similar your experience sounds!

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