“Deaf-Proofing” my Apartment

Over the past couple of months, I’ve realized two things:

  1. Just how deaf I am
  2. There’s a lot more to adjusting to a second CI than just re-learning sounds again.

About a month and a half ago, I was taking a study break in my room. I always take off my CIs when I study so I didn’t have them on at the time and my bedroom door was closed. I was reading a novel when all the sudden, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It turns out my roommate had been calling my name and knocking on my bedroom door for a few minutes with no response from me. I didn’t even hear my door open, which often makes a lot of noise when being opened. I had no idea that my roommate had been knocking on my door and that she had opened it until she tapped me on the shoulder– I heard absolutely nothing.

This is not the only instance where this sort of thing has happened. There will be times when I’m studying or doing work at the kitchen table and I don’t even hear my roommate entering the apartment when she comes home from class. The kitchen table is down the hall from where our main entrance is and like my bedroom door, our entrance door makes a lot of noise when someone opens it. In fact, there have been times where I didn’t even realize she was in the apartment until a couple of hours after she had come home. It is quite scary when you think about it.

Ever since I got my second CI in February, I haven’t really been able to hear anything without my CIs on unless the sound is really loud.  How loud? I’m not sure. I can hear the hum of the freezer when I open the freezer door but the train that runs behind my apartment is a faint hum in comparison to the loud rumbling noise I heard before I lost my residual hearing. Before I lost my residual hearing, I could hear bangs, voices and fans etc. without my CIs on. Now I cannot hear those sounds anymore. Before my second CI, my residual hearing was my coping mechanism when I didn’t have my CI on. I used it to make sense of what was going on around me. Now, I don’t have enough residual hearing left to rely on it anymore.

Clearly, I need a new coping strategy.

That new strategy has recently come in the form of, what I like to call, “deaf-proofing” my apartment.  The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has been so kind to set me up with a long-term loan of Bellman’s Home Alerting System. This Alerting System consists of an alarm clock with a bedshaker, a doorbell transmitter, a flashing LED receiver, and a smoke alarm detector. The doorbell transmitter and the smoke alarm detector are wirelessly connected to the alarm clock and flashing LED receiver so if the smoke detector detects smoke in the apartment or if someone presses the doorbell transmitter outside my apartment door, the bedshaker and LED receiver will go off.  My alarm clock also lights up and different coloured lights go off depending on the type of signal that triggered the response. The Bellman Alerting System can alert me of the following things:  a fire, the telephone ringing, someone pressing the doorbell and when a baby monitor detects a baby’s cry. I don’t have a landline telephone and I don’t plan on having a baby for a long time so I’m only using the doorbell alert right now. Unfortunately, CHS didn’t have any smoke detector transmitters in stock but once they receive the detectors in December, they’ll come round to my place again and set me up with it. They will also bring me another doorbell transmitter so that I can put it outside my bedroom door. That way, my roommate can get my attention when I am in my room without any of my CIs on.

Here is a video of the Bellman Alerting System:

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