I am deaf myself, with a loss of 60+ db up to about 500-600 Hz and about 110db after that. Though I know ASL to a passable degree, I don't generally consider myself Deaf. I wore very high power hearing aids up till this year, when I had a cochlear implant put in.
I'm now at week 3 after having my Med-El cochlear implant activated.
I had basic speech understanding with lipreading about five minutes after being activated, and could easily follow the melody of music on the car ride home. Music sounded about the same as it does with hearing aids, or with it cranked way up on speakers/headphones... In other words, the sound quality of the implant was nowhere near AM radio quality... a bit off from CD quality, but not hugely.
After three weeks, I'm starting to be to understand speech without lipreading for some people, and lyrics in music are starting to come in for me, and music has smoothed out in the upper frequencies that i couldn't hear properly in before.
I now hear with around a 15db loss, and that is still being adjusted and programmed as my ears adjust.
As an example of the difference in hearing, I tried dropping a raisin on the ground a few weeks ago, and clearly heard it hit the tile.. before I'd have to drop the whole bag of them. I can clearly hear the claws of the dog walking across the floor.. from another room. Could never hear the turn signal or headlight warning in the car before, now they're louder than the car to me.
Everyones experience varies with the implants, but it's not always as bad as Rush's has turned out.
My wife has the same cochlear implant as me, and has had it for about three years. The most clear sign that they can do almost miracles was about a year or two ago when we went to a friends wedding.. about 150-200 people in a very large and noisy room. My hearing aids were doing nothing for me in the noise, even telling that someone was talking was impossible. She was able to listen from across the room with her implant and interpret into ASL for me.