As of March this year I will have had my CI for 2 years and I still can’t hear sirens.
I actually don’t remember hearing sirens with my HA until I moved to NYC. I suspect it’s because I was always inside when there were sirens (e.g. in the car, in the house, etc.) and couldn’t hear them from inside. I also never had many opportunities to listen for sirens (thankfully).
When I moved to NYC, I definitely had a lot more exposure to sirens. I would oftentimes take the subway and walk around the city. Hence, I would be outside when police cars would zoom by. I easily learned to identify sirens and could hear sirens in the distance (never more than a block away) if I was walking around outside. However, I could NEVER hear sirens if I was driving around in my car.
When I got my CI activated I noticed other CI-users could easily hear sirens pretty far off and oftentimes before we could even see the police/ambulance/fire truck. I could NOT hear them no matter how hard I tried. A couple of times I could barely make it out if I was practically right next to the siren, someone told me to listen for them, and if I focused. Even then I’m not sure if I was actually hearing the sirens or not.
At first I thought maybe it was something that would take my brain a while to recognize. For example, with my HA…. when I locked my car doors with the remote control…I could hear the click notifying me that the doors were locked. I could not hear that doggone (drove me bonkers) thing for a few months when I first got my CI, but now I can.
Then time went by and I kind of let it slide. That is until I borrowed a HA to try in my unimplanted ear (more on that later). One evening when I was wearing both my CI and HA, I walked out into the parking lot and guess what the first thing I heard was?? A siren! I know for a fact I heard it only with the HA and not the CI. I looked up, waited, and sure enough a police car went zooming by. I heard it so clearly with the HA and had no problems identifying it even though it had been a year and half since I had really heard sirens. I couldn’t hear the siren at all with the CI even though I tried to!
I discussed this with my audiologist and she had me come in. She played some sound clips of sirens in her office and I had no problem hearing them. It appears to be an issue of not being able to pick it out in the real world. We weren’t sure if it was a MAP issue or my brain not cooperating. My brain may just not be able to sort sounds out well enough to pick out sirens when there’s a lot of other sounds going on.
For a few months, we have been playing with the MAPs to see if it makes any difference in my ability to hear sirens or not. Props to my audiologist for working on this. She has asked quite a few other people. I think I have them all baffled. 🙂
Today, I went in for another MAP (#36). My audiologist wanted to experiment to see if any tweaks in my MAP would make any difference.
We’ll see! Maybe I should be sitting next to a police station or something and see if I can hear those sirens. My interpreter did (half-joking) suggest that I should just march down to the fire station and have them show off their truck along with the sirens. 🙂