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May 31, 2005

Hearing loss tales amuse, tear at heart

From: Charlotte Observer, NC - May 31, 2005


Hearing loss tales amuse, tear at heart


You are not alone!

That's what dozens of you wrote after my April column on the 10-year anniversary of my sudden hearing loss.

Gone in an instant, April 1995, while talking on the phone at work -- all hearing in my left ear. Dr. William Roberts at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat diagnosed it as sudden idiopathic (cause unknown) sensory hearing loss.

Little has returned, maybe 12 percent.

Some of your descriptions broke my heart. (Johnny Sharpe's late aunt in rural Hiddenite who was afraid to check her mail because she felt unsafe crossing the road.)

A few of you were lucky. Your hearing returned.

More of us are still coping: cringing at loud noises, scrambling to figure the direction of sound, reading lips in noisy rooms (and sometimes pretending we know what you're saying when we don't), being prey to a variety of alien noises clamoring for air time in our deaf ear.

Connie Hill says she likes to think the "buzzing" means she's having a religious experience.

When both ears go

I was comforted in 1995 when Dr. Roberts said he'd never seen anyone with this syndrome lose hearing in both ears. Two of you said you had.Carlton Burton's left ear went in March 2003, and his right that October. This past March, he celebrated his first anniversary of hearing again -- with a cochlear implant.

Gwen DeMaegd of Shelby lost hearing in one ear one week in 1982 and a week later, in the other.

She, too, can hear again with a cochlear implant.

But John Miller, who's 25 and has "many dreams," wrote that he's been blind all his life and was also born with Norrie's disease, a rare disorder that can cause progressive hearing loss.

Then, suddenly, in 1994, hearing in one ear fell off dramatically.

John tells me he's still waiting for an evaluation to see if hearing aids will work. Meanwhile, his social life is suffering tremendously.

Finding humor, gratitude

Most of you manage to find good cheer and even humor.

Leland Park of Davidson says both his parents wore hearing aids and now it's his turn -- he's on his second set.

Once, he writes, he was talking to his mother about something, and she replied, "But they're Baptists."

Which, of course, had nothing to do with the subject.

Jim Jordan of Laurinburg says his hearing loss has been more amusing than annoying. He was watching the Weather Channel one snowy day when he insists a male weather reporter turned to his companion and said, "I am a French whore."

And there's gratitude.

Frances Mundy lost hearing in one ear after surgery in 1994 for an acoustic neuroma. She's suffered her share of teary days. Now she writes:

"I am so very fortunate to be here enjoying my granddaughter and eight beautiful little grandsons that this little 'problem' is just a minor irritation on my journey."

My sentiments exactly.

Dannye: (704) 358-5230;

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