Guest Author - Cathy Brownfield
Hearing loss became an issue when I couldn’t hear my grandbabies when they spoke to me. Recently, I had been researching stressors. I didn’t see “hearing loss” on the list of things that are considering “life altering events.” But if this is a major issue for me, maybe it SHOULD be on the list.
“Stop! Look at me so I can see what you are saying.” I felt like the line was becoming cliché, and that was when I decided I needed to see a hearing specialist. I went to the best in the world, Dr. William Lippy, Lippy Group, Warren, Ohio USA. He restored my mother’s hearing 40 years ago with a new surgical procedure.
But there is no surgery to “fix” my hearing problem. However, he recommended hearing aids might be a good option for me.
I contacted my insurance provider to see what our coverage was and where. I learned that every insurance provider does not cover things like hearing aids, but ours would cover a specified amount over five years.
Dr. Genie Wendel wrote a “hearing” column for me when I was the lifestyles editor at Salem (Ohio) News. It was a kind of reunion for us when I walked in the door. But I discovered that what my insurance would pay was enough for only one hearing aid and would be maxed out for a five-year period. BUT in my behalf, Dr. Wendel applied to the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (ORSC) for assistance in receiving the hearing aids I needed.
“What makes you think you need hearing aids?” she asked.
1. I can’t hear my grandchildren when they talk to me.
2. My husband gets frustrated when I ask, “What did you say?”
3. I’ve isolated myself because when some people talk to me and stand looking at me, waiting for a response, and I didn’t hear what they said. I feel stupid when that happens.
4. Some people are impossible to lip-read.
“It’s time,” she smiled patiently, obviously understanding my situation. “It’s time.”
That day, she made the molds for my hearing aids so she would have them ready to send out for manufacture as soon as the ORSC authorized them. Making the molds wasn’t painful. Dr. Wendel created a “plug” from a bit of cotton ball so she could control where the molding compound was going, set them in place, and filled my ear canals, completely closing off my ears.
With horror I realized just what it must be like to be profoundly deaf. I could see lips moving as Dr. Wendel and the job shadowing student, Aneda, spoke with each other. I couldn’t read their lips because they weren’t looking at me. I was uncomfortable. Dr. Wendel opened a drawer and when she pushed it shut, I heard, VERY faintly, the draw close against the face of the cabinet. It was all I could do to sit there waiting…waiting for the molding compound to set up so she could pull out the molds so I could hear again. I wanted to get up and run from the building!
Please, God. Please, please, PLEASE don’t ever let me become profoundly deaf! I prayed as the molds came out and I could hear again.
Dr. Wendel requested a letter from my employer stating my need to be able to hear in order to do my job. As a publicist I have to conduct interviews, in person and by telephone, in one-on-one and crowded situations. I have to be able to hear the people I’m speaking with. My supervisor was happy to help me with that.
The phone rang just a few days later. Could I come out to the field office to meet with the ORSC rehabilitation counselor? Because this was a “job save” situation, my case was made a priority. What my insurance provider wouldn’t pay the ORSC would. My hearing aids were a go.