I’ll be studying for an exam on the silent floor of the library with my friends studying in the cubicles next to me when they turn to me and say: “You are so lucky you are deaf and can’t hear how loud it is in here. It’s so distracting.” Another famous line I often get when I’m talking to others about my hearing loss is: “It must be nice not to be able to hear thunder or rain while you are sleeping at night!”.
Not being able to hear how loud it is on the supposedly “silent” floor of the library because I’m deaf is somewhat a myth, at least it is for me: I do “hear” these sounds, just not in the way you’d think. I don’t hear how loud the silent floor is when I take my CIs off, per say, but I do feel how loud it is.
It’s the classic “you lose some, you win some”.
Ever since I lost my residual hearing, my sense of vibrations has gotten remarkably stronger when I’m not wearing my CIs. I don’t wear my CIs when I’m studying so I don’t hear people talking at the library but I feel the scraping of chairs against the floor, books being set on the table, someone else’s phone vibrating soundlessly across from me, people fidgeting with their hands on the table. And let me tell you: it drives me friggin’ nuts. All that is going through my mind at that point is not the 150 scientific terms and names I have to memorize for my exam but rather a mantra of “Just stop moving.”
Sound is made up of vibrations so feeling constant vibrations through the table every time someone moves or drops their textbook on the table is the deaf equivalent to hearing noises on the silent floor of the library.
I may not be able to hear how loud it is in the library but like you, I’m not spared from being distracted by it. So don’t be too surprised if I send you a dirty look for being too noisy on the silent floor.