Layers of Sounds: Is less better when you can’t understand what you hear?

This is something I have discussed a few times on my blog.

One of the biggest adjustments I had to make when I got my CI was sorting through layers of sounds.  For a long time I actually felt like I understood more with my hearing aid than I did with my CI.  A major factor was the fact I was only picking up 1 or 2 sounds at a time with my hearing aid whereas I was picking up a lot of sounds with my CI.  Sounds with my CI was just one big blur and sounds were simpler with my hearing aid.

I meant to blog about this several months ago but never got around to it.  I was given a hearing aid loaner to try out the hearing aid + CI combo.  I tried this around when I finally started sorting sounds out.  I still struggle with this but am doing so much better than I was doing for a long time.  I didn’t pick up a lot of background noises with my hearing aid so sounds stood out more but I pick up tons of background noises with my CI.

Anyways, one day when I was wearing my HA and CI I found myself in a situation that may help explain what I mean by layers of sounds.

I was at a train crossing and listening to music while waiting for a train to go by when I started paying attention to what I was hearing.  Right before the train started crossing, I had been listening to music.  I had my iTouch hooked up through my radio and was getting static.

I could easily pick out the music with my hearing aid.  Then I realized I could hear both the static and music with my CI but could not pick out the static with my hearing aid.  I could mostly hear the instruments and wasn’t picking up some of the voices with my hearing aids.

Then as the train went by, it drowned out the music.  I could not hear the music nor the static with my hearing aid.  I could only hear the train with my hearing aid.  However, with my CI…I could hear the static, instruments, voices, and the train…and I could separate them.

I also had to turn the volume up to hear the music with my hearing aid and had to turn it down when listening with my CI.

I still identify sounds easier with hearing aids but I hear more with the CI.  Is more better when you can’t understand what you hear?  Or is less better when you can understand what you hear?

This is something I questioned for a year and half yet something kept driving me to choose my CI over my hearing aid.  To this day, I can’t quite tell you why but I am glad I did.  While I do sometimes miss the simplicity of what I heard and understood with my hearing aids, I have learned to enjoy sounds with my CI more than I ever have been able to.

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