I asked a group of people which sounds they missed the most when they went deaf. Of course most of us donít recognise we are even missing sounds until we have been deaf for some time but one day something prompts us and we suddenly remember we havenít heard our favourite sound for a while. John emailed me the other day. He lives in the UK and heís been reading my articles and was prompted to take an online hearing test. This showed he had a hearing loss and heís since got hearing aids. His comment was he canít believe how much sound he had been missing. ďI started hearing things I hadnít heard for ages,Ē he told me.
A survey in the USA of late deafened people revealed that what they missed the most was the sound of conversation Ė and therefore, not being able to easily participate in a group. While this is probably true of everyone, there are more subtle sounds that mean something to us, that get an emotional response, that we miss when we can no longer hear them.
One of these for me was the sound of magpies warbling. Now that I can hear them again I think it is a most beautiful sound and reminds me of my grandmother. Another is the sound of autumn leaves crunching underfoot. What a delicious, childhood sound that one is.
Tom told me he couldnít bear the thought of never hearing his favourite singer, Edith Piaf, again and Fiona said never hearing her children laugh was something she didnít think she could cope with. David said that not hearing well enough to play the piano was something which caused him grief.
It is lonely when you walk on a beach and canít hear the waves crash on the sand or when you walk in the bush and canít hear the susurration of the wind in the trees. You miss so much when you canít hear these lovely joyous environmental sounds. They take us out of ourselves and help us to think about the world around use instead of always being trapped inside. Depression is a real problem for many deaf people and I think this is in part because we canít hear so many wonderful sounds in the world around us.
Favourite sounds are funny things and we donít all like the same sounds. Often sounds we miss the most are tied up with some emotional experience. Our lives are enriched by the sounds we hear around us.