Personal Story: Help for Hearing Loss

Guest author: Suzanna Laurent

New Technology Available Helps Hearing Loss

Suzanna Laurent, STC Fellow and former STC President (2005–2006) and former STC Director-Sponsor Region 5, sent us her personal story in 2008. She gave us permission to use it and we thought you'd like to read about how her hearing loss had affected her life and how a new technology had improved it.

I was talking with a friend one day whose husband works for the FAA and is able to fly free. However, because it is a free flight, there is only one seat available and at times another person can bump you off the flight. My friend had a ticket, so she got on the flight and had to come home without her husband. He flew home later. During our telephone conversation I thought she said, "Jack got drunk and they wouldn't let him on the flight." I thought to myself, "that doesn't sound like Jack because he doesn't drink much, and besides, this was an 8 a.m. flight." So, I asked her to tell me what she said again. She repeated "Jack got bumped, and they wouldn't let him on the flight." I told her what I had heard, and we had a good laugh about it, but it finally made me realize just how much I was missing in conversations.

In 1987, an Otogolist confirmed that I had an inherited hearing loss, and the only thing that could help me were hearing aids. It was a big shock, but I was so thankful there was some help available. I purchased and started wearing hearing aids in both ears. The difference was remarkable! Now my two oldest children wear hearing aids as well.

Consider for a moment what it would be like to talk with someone and not be able to hear the beginning and ending of some words. Sentences suddenly take on new meanings, like when you say "I can't go home right now," and the message that actually gets heard by a hearing-impaired person is "I can go home right now." The frustration can be monumental for the people on both sides of the conversation.

In the Fall of 1999, my daughter's Otologist wanted to know more about my hearing loss so he could better diagnose the changes in her hearing. I went back to have my hearing rechecked by the Otologist. After a thorough examination, the doctor asked me if I was a satisfied hearing aid user. I didn't even have to think about it, I told him "I am thankful for the hearing aids, but I still miss a lot of conversations. I can feel myself withdrawing from crowds and situations with noisy backgrounds, but that I knew there was no other choice but to wear them."

Then the doctor told me about a study in which he was participating, "Oh, you have a choice now, we are doing a study with an implantable hearing device that is designed for people with your level of hearing loss." I was so excited I couldn't think of anything else when I got back to work. I called my husband, checked out the web site and publication the doctor gave me, and called back to make an appointment to discuss the new device further. As a result, in January of 2000, I had a Symphonix Soundbridge device implanted in my right ear. The device was not for sale yet in the U.S., although it had already been approved in European countries. I now wear a small round device behind my right ear that produces vibrations that make me hear much better. In fact, the difference is remarkable. Now, I am not saying it makes my hearing perfect, but it is a remarkable device that allows me to hear much better now. To learn more about the device, visit Vibrant® Soundbridge™ middle ear implants It is now available for sale in the U.S.

Suzanna Laurent (1942–2011)
"You can do anything you want to do, but not everything you want to do!"

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