Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Super Hearing - Aspie Past

I have sensitive hearing. But it doesn’t seem like I have sensitive hearing because half (or more) of the time I have to say “What?” “Huh?” “Sorry, can you repeat that?” {That last one only comes up when I’m really concentrating and trying to be polite}
But say my name on the other side of a crowded room and my ears prick up “Me? Yes?” {very annoying at work considering I sit back to back with another girl of the same name, and people are always talking to her, never me}. And if I know Hoppy is coming down for the weekend, and I have a vague idea of the time {and with Hoppy, the time is always going to be vague} I’m like a puppy dog, up at the window every time I hear a car.
In fact, it’s become so ingrained in me that Hoppy comes down on a Friday, so at around 7pm on a Friday (the earliest he can get here) I get what I call {Damnit! I had the word just a moment ago and now I’ve forgotten it. Imagine a word like “prickly” or “perky” except it’s not that, something that evokes the imagery of ears sensitive to sound to the point of almost pain. Oops, remembered it!} twitchy ears . Like I said, sensitive to sound to the point of pain, I can almost literally feel my ears twitching at every slight sound – mostly car sounds but also other sounds.
After a point I have to yell at The Crazy Flatmate and her boyfriend if they’re hanging out in the lounge because a) my room backs on to the lounge and sound travels well through the whole building, not just our flat, and b) his voice is the most annoying noise ever. I’m not yelling at them to be mean, but because they’re being mean to me… even if they don’t know they’re being mean. Their noises are hurting me. Literally hurting me.
If Hoppy doesn’t end up coming down, like maybe he never planned on it or whatever, then my ears stay twitchy and sensitive all night. But if he does come down, pretty much the instant I hear his car pull up outside, my ears go back to their usual level of sensitivity. Which is still pretty sensitive, but not painfully so.
So, if my hearing is so sensitive that noises can hurt me, how come I can’t hear people talking to me sometimes? I have been hearing tested more than once, to see if I have hearing issues, but even if I “fake it” and say I don’t hear some of the noises, I always pass with flying colours. And how come I feel like I can’t hear as well when I have my glasses off?
Elementary, my dear Sherlock {well, except for the hearing bad with my glasses off, that part I can’t really explain}.My hearing is so good that I hear background noises louder and thus can’t hear the … um… foreground noises? This is an Aspie thing I think – one of the many times when it would have been good to be diagnosed at a younger age so I didn’t think I was going deaf! When you get a hearing test, you’re wearing headphones that block out the background noises, so my idea of “failing on purpose” probably surpassed normal hearing anyway.
So if I’m in the kitchen and The Crazy Flatmate is in the lounge - even though it’s a mostly open-plan area - if the kettle is on or if the tap is running, or anything is making any background noise, I have to ask her to speak up. Or yell. She is a mumbler though.
And in spite of this awesome hearing, I have a world of trouble telling how loud I’m talking. I’ve always been this way. “Don’t yell.” “But I wasn’t yelling!” “Speak up.” “Was talking at normal temperature.” {And yes, the words volume and temperature get mixed up more often than not.}
What brought this train of thought up? The tinnitus. I’m so used to my awesome hearing that the clicking in my ear, which is invariably followed by the hollow feeling of a “popped” (or is it “un-popped”?) ear are confusing me. The clicking so loud and annoying I can’t concentrate on anything else, and the after-feeling so hollow that it’s deafening. I wish I didn’t feel like this. But really, I wish that my hearing was N-T normal, not so freakishly sensitive!
Does anyone else hear the humming of electricity, those high pitched whines that you can’t ascribe to anything else? The sound of construction, three blocks away? Does anyone else know like I know, that bass noises travel up and down walls, so that it doesn’t matter if you live in a bottom or top storey flat, you will always be plagued by the bad music choices of your neighbours?
The sound of my own breathing is too loud for me to sleep, sometimes my thoughts are so loud that I’m unsure if I said them out loud, and I can’t hear my Hoppy when he’s talking to me in the car, unless the sound is turned down.
However I can also hear every difference in my car’s engine. Once I’ve driven a car several times I know what it sounds like, so I know when things are different, I should say. And Hoppy is a mechanic so I can say to him “there’s a new sound, it comes from the front left and sounds like something going round in circles.” Unfortunately, I’ve learned that even the things that go up and down (pistons, maybe other things) sound like they’re going round in circles, so that doesn’t help too much.
And I can hear my name spoken across a crowded room. Annoying when there are other people with my name, yes, but good in helping “ground” me, bring me back to a conversation if I’ve been distracted by other noises. Or if I’ve been distracted by my own epically loud thoughts.
I’m sure that there are other pluses. Any ideas? Because those are the only ones I can think of.

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