I didn’t understand bi-lateral hearing.

I didn’t understand bi-lateral hearing.
Before I had my 2nd cochlear implant I read all the brochures and asked other bi-lateral recipients to explain what the differences were between hearing with one ear and hearing with two ears. Most couldn’t easily articulate the differences but all said it was ‘better’. What did ‘better’ mean? Some gave me more detail but somehow it didn’t mean much. Having no memory of ever hearing with two ears, there were things I didn’t understand. My definition and understanding of the words they used came from my memory of limited hearing, so the benefits hardly seemed worthwhile.

Hear sound in stereo
Explaining ‘Stereo’ to a hearing impaired person is like describing colour to a blind man. It has no meaning and for me, related to electronic speaker systems. My husband told me when Beatles’ sound tracks were first remastered, ‘stereo’ was faked but what resulted was mono sound from two speakers and that’s what I thought stereo was - a doubling in volume and this didn’t sound too promising.

Better direction and localisation of sound
With just one ear working I always had to reposition myself if I was on the wrong side of someone because of my head shadow affect. So, while this benefit seemed obvious and I could understand how with two ears sound direction would be more easily detected, by itself it didn’t seem worthwhile because I had managed more than adequately with one ear for almost 40 years.

Not deaf when one set of batteries die
So what! I’ve lived with a single side Cochlear Implant for seven years. The time to change batteries is minimal and not hearing during this short time, while occasionally a nuisance, didn’t seem much of a benefit.

It’s easier to hear
I already didn’t think it was hard nor did I struggle to hear in most situations so I couldn’t understand why or how it could be easier.

Get more volume
There’s a logic which says with two ears you get 100% more volume. There were many times when I found sound too loud already so why would I want more volume? With just one implant at maximum volume how could I tolerate more?

Understand speech better
If I was already understanding 100% of speech and environmental sounds how could having two ears change that? I would still be getting 100%.

Hear better in background noise
If sometimes I found background noise intolerable how could having 100% more volume with a second implant and therefore more background noise make that easier? Surely this would make it worse. Having 100% more volume seemed intolerable for listening in background noise and I actually saw this as a downside to having bi-lateral hearing.

Sound has more depth
In my inexperience I interpreted ‘depth’ as sound being lower in frequency. I was already hearing low frequency sound and didn’t want any more.

Music will sound better
This is a benefit which I hoped would be realised. Music already sounded pretty good but it wasn’t quite right. Songs I knew sounded the way they should but someone singing sometimes sounded monotonal although I still heard somehow that it wasn’t. My piano is delightful and playing pieces I knew before I went deaf all sounded the way I expected. But trying to learn new tunes or hear if I had played a wrong note amid a chord simply wasn’t possible. So if bi-lateral hearing improved music this is the one benefit I could see would be worthwhile. But I wasn’t sure hearing better music was enough to warrant a bi-lateral implant – it seemed like an indulgence.

Reduction in tinnitus
No one mentioned this one. I have had screaming tinnitus for 40 years. With my first implant I found while wearing my processor my tinnitus goes away. So hopefully tinnitus would also go away while wearing a second processor and this would be a nice relief after so many years.

The words I didn’t understand
It’s only a few days since my second processor was switched on and I’ve now realised that I didn’t understand the words in comments people made.
For a start – the difference in hearing from both ears is astounding - way beyond just a doubling of sound. I had not experienced true stereo therefore it did not equate to quality, differences in direction, sound moving around or sound dimension.

You Should Also Read:
The real meaning of Bi-lateral hearing
My second Cochlear Implant Operation
Why are two ears better than one?

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