Most people don’t realise that when you get a cochlear implant, music will never sound the same. Voices will never sound the same.
In fact, some implantees have described the sounds as ‘…robotic … like squirrels fighting … like darth vader or donald duck … high pitched bubbles, squeaks, pips, bongs and beeps… nothing like natural sound …”
My problem is, I can hear most music really well (well, I think I can), and I love music… But I have trouble hearing voices.
It’s always meant that I always get the words to songs wrong (e.g. instead of “where do you go my lovely”, I thought it was “where do you go without me”, and many more embarrassing ones, that I wont mention here), and I remember very clearly when I was 16 asking my school friends to write down the words to my favourite song so I could sing along to it.
So, I hear the tune and the beat really well, its just like there is an off button in my ear for voices. They’re just muffled.
One of the things I was told when I was going to get the implant was that most people can’t stand the sound of music after the implant. However, others have said that while it took a bit of getting used to, they ended up enjoying it.
My biggest fear was the sound of Ben’s voice changing – he has a lovely deep voice, and I can really feel the timbre of it when he speaks, even if I can’t make out all the words he is saying (being deaf is excellent for avoiding conversations I don’t want to have!) … this was one of the things that prevented me from getting the implant a couple of years ago – I valued the sound of Ben’s voice, and music, too much to let it go.
But now, I am ready to give those up if it means I will hear voices better. Sometimes communication with people around you is more important than hearing a beautiful, awe-inspiring song, or swooning over your partner’s voice!
Because of the way a cochlear implant works – it doesn’t fit all the way into the cochlea, and so it stimulates only the nerves that give you high-pitched sound, not the low-pitched ones. So, every single sound around you is translated into this high pitched tone! It is hard to imagine. It really is. I have had many people tell me what it is like, but … I guess nothing will prepare you for the experience.
The day of my switch-on is Wednesday 22 July … ‘Judgement Day’ (der-du … der-du … der-du *jaws theme*).
Will everyone around me sound like high-pitched donald ducks? and will I ever enjoy music or the sound of my partner’s voice again? I guess it might add a bit of humour to my day if someone yelling at me sounds like a squirrel being strangled.
And what about my own voice?
Now that is going to be weird.