Do cars make noise?

…and other strange questions the hard of hearing or deaf might ask.

There is endless fascination on my part how much noise there is in the hearing world. Until I got fitted for my first hearing aid I never got things like why people gave me dirty looks for reading the newspaper. Even then, there’s a lot of noise that’s lost on someone with significantly impaired hearing. Like escalators.

And now, after lovin’ my new hearing aid I realized the car was no longer quiet. Today I asked my roomie – how much noise do cars make? This was not an academic question. I figured it depended on the car because I remember commercials for quiet cars. Then she realized I mean MY car. Since I’ve never really heard anything more than sort of a quiet hum before, I was a little alarmed that maybe nuts and bolts were going to start falling off.

Tonight at ASL meet-up I talked to a deaf participant and we got in a conversation about how hearing people deal with all the noise.  So how DO you deal with it?  If I am hearing only a fraction of what the rest of you do, it must be like living inside a cement mixer filled with ball bearings. And you can’t turn it off.  Don’t you ever want to stick your fingers in your ears, scream, and run around in circles until you collapse from exhaustion?

I have friends who burp or make other body noises and feel compelled to point it out to me, saying, “Excuse me,” and I often say, “The nice thing about having a hard of hearing friend is never having to say ‘excuse me’ unless it smells bad, because otherwise I’ll never know.” I sometimes wonder just how loud body sounds are.  Is it like listening to someone banging on a radiator with a pipe or something?


  1. “…how hearing people deal with all the noise. So how DO you deal with it?” and a very interesting question it is. the sick thing is we are USED to the noise…alas, inured to it…just as we are becoming inured to $4 gallon gas, and war, and the rain forest disappearing, etc etc ad infinitum, ad absurdum. continue…

    1. Thanks for the response, Barkinginthedark. Used to it? Like growing up Australian and inured to Vegemite on toast for breakfast? I’m told I can take a shower with my new hearing aid. Suddenly occurs to me that there would be even more noise in a shower so I think I’ll pass. There is something to be said for living in a quiet world. What would happen if, while murmuring sweet nothings, the other person actually heard them over the clanking, groaning roar of the world? 🙂

      1. Your post reminds me of somthing funny. Prior to getting my cochlear implant, people would always chastise me for making noises…what noises I would reply? After the implant, I realized how noisy I was! Playing with loose change in my pocket, clicking my pen, tapping my feet etc. Then of course there are the bodily functions you wrote about! Thanks for this post! I enjoyed it.

      2. I’d love to hear the difference between CI and hearing aid. Do you hear more? Can it be made selective? I understand CI requires retraining the brain because the sounds are all digital/computer. If I got a CI it would give me hearing on the side with nothing. I’ve been told the older you are the harder it is to learn how to “hear” through a CI.

  2. How do we deal with all of the noise? The same way your deal with everything you see. Even when I am focusing on a laptop screen, there are a thousand other things in my sight… the couch, blankie, textbooks, TV, kitchen, a random shoe, tv remote,… but I’m only focused on the computer, so the rest of it kind of fades into my consciousness. The same is true of sound… We focus on what is important, and other than things that draw our attention (the banging of my upstairs neighbors, for instance… much like the butt crack of the plumber that you wish you didn’t see but just can’t stop starting at…) most of the rest of the sounds just fade into the background. 🙂

    1. Hi Jana, so much for stopping by and sharing about sound. I am absolutely fascinated with the concept of being able to have sounds fade into the background. In my brain all sounds have equal billing – so the “white noise” doctors now put outside doors can be just as valued by my brain as the voice of the doctor which leaves me with a few options – turning off the hearing aid, using a forward mic (assuming the white noise generator isn’t directly behind the doctor) or using my portable FM system and having the doctor speak into it so his voice is bluetoothed into my hearing aid. Because I had a head injury as toddler and lost all my hearing on one side and about half my hearing on the other, I can’t remember what that much sound would be like.And my childhood was probably not a very noisy one growing up in a tiny town in the rural mid-west in the early 1950’s. We didn’t have the sound generating equipment around today, although we did have a victrola and a console radio in the living room that the adults sometimes used. It wasn’t figured out I could not hear right until I was about 3 years old when my Mom played the “whisper” game with me and I’d tell her, “No, Mommy, this ear.” I seem to be less able to filter out lots of visual stimuli as well, perhaps because I depend on it to interpret my world. This may contribute to what I am told is my “child-like” (not childish) fascination with everything around me. I am told that snow makes sound when it is falling. I’ve never experienced that yet.

      1. Interesting!!! I am as fascinated to know how you experience life without much hearing as you are to know about sounds and filtering. LOL I can’t believe no one noticed your hearing was damaged so much… and that hearing aids give you no filtering ability. What do you do when you go to a restaurant? They are always noisy… And it’s so interesting that you don’t have as much of a visual filter either! My husband would probably tell you that I don’t either… I’m ADHD so anything moving when I’m driving drives me crazy. My husband sometimes plays air guitar with one hand… my brain can’t handle watching the road when his hands are moving on the side! lol

  3. Good question. If you have a hearing loss up to say moderate severe, then you will hear more with a hearing aid. But if you have a severe or profound loss, you will most likely hear more with the CI. I tried to illustrate this in the following blog post:

    Yes, a CI requires retraining the brain, but it does happen. You just need to give it time. As for being older, well, its true there is more neuro-plasticity in the younger brain. But I have heard of lots of seniors getting CI’s and doing well with them.

    Bottom line: Prior to my implant I had 0% word identification score. One year after the implant, I got 96% word identification. ‘Nuff said!

    1. Profound in the left ear. In fact, the left ear is totally blown with a crushed inner ear and a dead nerve. I’m not sure if it would be usable for a CI. My right ear has been going over time due to nerve injury and Meniere’s. My word ID score is slowly dropping because of the location of the loss – which is in the area of speech. My new aid has really given me a huge boost, especial combined with my remote control and the neck microphone that works for phone and other purposes. I have several friends in the Deaf Attorneys Association who have gotten CI’s. Most have been far younger than me, though. I will have to find out if my left ear is usable for a CI and how the brain retraining would affect my work as I still have to be able to understand people when they talk to me.

  4. I would check with a CI audiologist and or ENT surgeon about your candidacy. For me, I started the process long before I actually become a candidate. I kept going for annual appointments, until it got to the point where we were sure that my life would be better with an implant. I think that’s the real question. Once your hearing has progressed to a point where you, and everyone else, is pretty sure your life will improve with a CI is the time to get one.

  5. Hi Jana,

    To hear what I hear (in my “good” ear) to in the bathroom. Shut the door. Turn on the shower. Turn your back to the door. Put your fingers tight in both ears. Then have your husband talk to you in a normal tone of voice. That’s what I hear without augmentation. At least, that is how an audiologist once explained it to me so I could explain it to a friend.

    Realize, though, that I have no memory of being able to hear. I don’t really have a clue about directionality based on stereo hearing. I know it exists, and I understand the concept of how it works, but I can’t remember ever experiencing that sort of directionality based on sound input. I once had a bi-cross aid that gave me sound from the left, but I never really “got it” about turning to hear a sound. To me, the world exists to my right and in front. Behind and to the left are dead zones.

    It isn’t always easy to tell if a child is hard of hearing. I heard better as a child than I do now because while the left ear was blown, the right ear wasn’t in the same state of nerve decline it is now. The last decade has been an ever-increasing struggle – not that it was ever easy.

    What do I do in a restaurant? Sometimes I turn the aid off. Sometimes I use an FM system to talk to folks at a table. At really noisy places I don’t wear my aid. Frankly, with the exceptions of some ethnic foods (Indian, Chinese) I am a better cook that most of the restaurants. I would rather eat good food.

    My visual filters can get overwhelmed in places like a grocery store with too many selections with me trying to find a specific one. My ex was blind and wanted me to describe everything on a supermarket aisle. I told him there was not enough time in the day to do it, let alone do it for the entire store. He never got that, but he had never been able to see much even when he could see, so there you have it. 🙂 Then again, you and I both have ADHD so that’s the stimuli bit that causes problems shutting out the visual. I use meds and I’ve had an ADHD coach so I have all sorts of adaptive mechanisms. I’d probably bite your husband’s arm off if he did air guitar while I was driving. (just kidding…sort of) I also grew up with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia – back before people knew much about them or had names for them.

    Interesting conversation. I can’t filter sight or sound well, but I can do hyper-focus quite well and that’s basically a meditate trance that enables me to attend to what I need to do.

    1. You know, talking to you is really interesting. And yes, I want to bite his arm off when he does the air guitar… I snapped at him a little, and he looked at me like I was crazy… lol I explained it to him, and he understood… but he still looked at me like I was crazy.

      Sound with no direction… huh. I can’t really imagine that. Kinda like looking at a flat picture of a house instead of seeing the house itself maybe? No depth? I can’t think of anything else to compare it to.

      Mmmm…. Indian food. I love to cook but sometimes I’m so lazy. I try to buy foods I can’t make at home (I suck at steak) or don’t ever make for whatever reason (like enchiladas) or foods I could eat until I explode (mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, any lemon desert)…

      Hyper-focus DOES make up for a multitude of concentration issues. It’s great when I can manage it for schoolwork… but it’s not so great when my husband tries to talk to me when I’m on the computer. hehe.

      Oh, if you ever want to see my deep innermost thoughts, I have a real blog at

  6. Ahhhhh Grasshopper, there is an easy way to explain to the air guitar man. It goes something like this: “Do you like driving ON the road or do you fancy wrapping the car around yon telephone pole? Because if you keep distracting me….oh LOOK! There’s a BUTTERFLY” (sounds of screeching wheels) “Get what I mean?”

    Sound is. It is a state of being. If i walk towards sound I get more of it and that means I’m getting closer. If i walk away from sound I get less of it. If there is too much sound, I turn my hearing aid off. But to tell where sound is located without moving toward or away from it is not possible. Close one eye and try to see 3-D.

    I never thought of sound having depth – like water, I guess. It has complexity (orchestral, for instance) and is loud or soft but depth? Hmmmm….

    I can teach steak prep. First, get a decent cut of meat from a real butcher – not WalMart. Then decide what spices you prefer. For a simple steak use garlic, black/white pepper and a little season salt. Get an old glass coke bottle. Put a good quality garlic powder on the steak along with the pepper and a little season salt. Then take the clean coke bottle and pummel the stake with the lip of the bottle (where you drink) This will score the outside of the steak and press the spices into the cuts. Flip the steak over and repeat sans the salt.

    Depending on how well done you like the steak , heat the grill or frying pan, sear and brown at high heat, flipping once with tongs and then cook to desired doneness (use meat thermometer). Serve with garlic butter on the steak. You can take a jar of minced, roasted garlic and combine it with some butter, nuke for half a minute in the microwave and pour it over the steak before serving.

    There are other ways, like brining the meat for maybe 15 minutes, but that’s another cooking lesson for another day.

    Your blog says your a social work student. I retired from social work in 1991.

    1. Hahahahaha Iread thislast night but was tired and didn’t reply… so I told my husband about your idea for explaining it to him…. he pretended to not be amused, but I know he was. LOL

      You know, I never noticed that your eyes lose some of their umm… .dimensionality? (Is that a word?) if you close one eye. Interesting. I guess depth might not be the best word for sound now that I think of it… dimensionality might be. Theoretically, as a hearing person, I should be able to hear a sound and tell you where it comes from. However… a lovely interesting night was spent at a friend’s house looking, with a group of friends, for a beep we kept hearing but could not track down. LOL Eventually we learned it was the neighbor’s alarm clock.

      Ohhhhhhh steak prep!!!! May talk to the husband about making that tomorrow night. We don’t have a real butcher here… but I bet the local grocery, which has a huge emphasis on quality meats and produce, could have some good steaks. The season salt sounds awesome and in all honesty, the coke glass sounds fun. My kitchen is decorated in coca cola, sooooo no problem finding a glass bottle here LOL Mmmm…. garlic butter…. Definately going to try that!

      You were a social worker??????????????? SWEET!!!!! What population did you work with? Did you like it?????? I plan to work with kids and families. Here we have a scholarship program that pays for our senior year of school if we work for the state of Indiana for 2 years in whatever location they place us. I’m almost sure I have the scholarship (there were 7 juniors who applied, and 6 slots, but one told us last week that she dropped out of the running… so it’s almost guaranteed at this point.) and that’s the population I want to start with anyway, so I’m excited. I would like to go back for my master’s degree as well using the same program, but first I have to find a program that interests me. The master’s at my university focuses on rural social work, and I would much rather work in a city or internationally. Now that I know you were a social worker, I will probably have a million and a half questions for you. Is that okay?? LOL

      1. Yup, two eyes are required for depth perception.

        Sound without a doppler effect is hard to trace.

        I worked in child protection – mostly investigations since my specialty was in the trenches social work going to homes and sorting out issues on the spot with or without the assistance of the police. I also did adoption of abused/neglected kids both locally and through InterState Compact and recruitment of and supervision in adoptive homes, some WIN/SAU (they do not have that now), substance abuse counseling, emergency shelter administration and hands on work in shelter social work – among other things. I was really good at it. Did I like it? Uh, that’s a hard one. I did both hands on work and supervision. I like being a catalyst for change. I don’t like the reality that there is little that can be done in many cases and am a great believer in the 1% solution. Change a person’s behavior 1% off true and over time the change is vast. That’s how ships in the ocean change direction. These days I find my patience with social workers in social services I meet is sort of short fuse. I had one tell me that a six (6) month old infant could not possibly remember or miss her mother. (WTF!?!) I wanted to play whack-a-mole with her noggin. She is a disgrace to the field. I would not hire a person that ignorant and if I were her supervisor she would either learn or get the boot. I have no time for fools and children and families pay the price when fools are employed in the field because of political connections rather than merit. I have high standards and when folks tell me I should go back to social work here I tell them I’ve a new 15 minute rule. If I didn’t quit such a loused up agency in 15 minutes they’d fire me in 15 minutes after I reamed out some idiot who has no idea about child development, child psychology, ICWA, or anything else. I’m a great change-maker, but these days I don’t like where the field is going (from what I see here) and I’m grumpy that standards are now so low despite requiring high levels of education. If I were to be in CPS now as a lawyer I’d be representing parents against a system run amok. Kids who need protection don’t get it and kids who don’t need protection are traumatized for life by removal. Aiiieeeee!

        Just call me the curmudgeonly former social worker. I love children and I love seeing children and families develop healthy lives. I used to be an Ala-Tot sponsor in Anchorage and firmly believe in the value of 12 step program in dealing with rehabbing families riddled with problems caused by substances, even if the issues are generational ones.

      2. Investigation sounds interesting but difficult. I’ve talked to a woman who was a parent’s advocate and loved it. It’s interesting though that you left CPS because of what was happening… and I am studying to join it for the exact same reason. :o)

        I’m surprised at the amount of things we are NOT learning in our classes… but that is a rant of a different color for a different day.

        Of your different jobs you held as a social worker, which was your favorite?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s