Hearing Aid Help, Our Picnic Next Weekend, and More News

Welcome to our July news! Our next newsletter arrives August 6, 2024.

Washington State Hearing Loss News

Our Annual Picnic Is Next Weekend!

You’re invited to our annual picnic at Lake Boren Park in Newcastle, Washington, on July 20, 2024, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. We’ll eat at noon.

A hearing loop and PA system are provided so we can hear one another better–thank you, Spencer Norby. We’ll have a FREE raffle with dozens of prizes coordinated by Sandy Bunning, barbecued hot dogs and sausages by grillmaster Rick Faunt, and more. We’ll provide coolers, ice, condiments like ketchup, chips, water, and coffee.

Everyone is welcome, including friends and family. Feel free to bring something to share, about 8 servings: If your last name is A-L, please feel free to bring a dessert or a side; M-Z folks, please feel free to bring a salad. Alcohol is not allowed in the park. Seating is limited, so you may want to bring a lawn chair, camp chair, or blanket.

Lake Boren Park is at 13058 SE 84th Way, in Newcastle, Washington, not far from Bellevue. We’ll be in the covered park area #2.

New Hearing Aids. What’s Next?

It can take a little time and effort to get used to new hearing aids. But it’s worth it.

Audiologist Ashima Verma offers some good advice on our blog this week, including on what to do if your own voice sounds too loud, where to find auditory training, and how music might help.

illustration of two people at a table with ears and musical notes and instruments surrounding them


Captions on Televisions in Public: It’s the Law

Televisions in public places are required to have captions turned on–always on. This is thanks to a law we helped pass in 2021.

Our blog post offers more details. You can also check out this helpful article from our friends at DeafFriendly Review. Please feel free to share our blog post and the links we included with restaurants, offices, bars, or anywhere you need captions on a television to enjoy a program, receive safety and other information, or simply relax and participate as others do.

photo of people cheering a sports event on a big-screen TV at a bar. the TV has the OC symbol for open captions


Volunteer Opportunity: Test a New Assistive Listening System in Olympia

Do you have some time to help us test a new assistive listening system at the ODHH offices in Olympia this Wednesday, July 10, from 10:00 am till noon?

The folks at ODHH have installed a Williams AV FM 558 Pro, which is said to be compatible with both Bluetooth and telecoil hearing aids and cochlear implants. The local Avidex AV team is conducting the training and testing in the Blake East Building in the Rose Conference Room.

If you can attend and perhaps help carpool, please let us know: cheri.perazzoli@loopwashington.org.

white meeting room with large window, white table, black chairs

National Hearing Loss News

Disability Pride Month: Checking Our Biases

The word “disability” doesn’t need to bring up negative feelings or connotations. In fact, by checking our biases and learning from others, we can help make the world a better place for people with disabilities of all kinds, including hearing loss.

We like this video from Blair Imani on disability pride, and this article from our friends at The Arc that talks about what else we can do to support Disability Pride. You can find a toolkit with ways to celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary here.

color photo of black flag with diagonal rainbow. blue sky in background.

Huey Lewis Speaks Up About Hearing Loss

Remember the 80s pop star Huey Lewis? He’s been forthcoming about his hearing loss, and he has some interesting stories to tell. Here’s a cool interview with him from WNYC radio. We didn’t see a transcript for the audio interview, but let us know if you find one.

Photo credit: “All Star musician, Huey Lewis” by Rafael Amado Deras is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

rock star huey lewis, man with glasses holding a microphone

The Cure for Noisy Restaurants

Restaurants can be really frustrating when you have a hearing loss. Yet dining out with loved ones can create really lovely memories.

The Washington Posts discusses why restaurants are so maddeningly loud and what we can do. Why restaurants are so loud, and what science says we can do about it – Washington Post

Hat-tip to Carolyn Odio for this story.

color photo of three women sitting at an elegant restaurant drinking wine

Hearing Aids 101: Understanding the Complexities

Choosing a hearing aid isn’t a straightforward process. Here are some important things to know, such as why hearing aids aren’t like eyeglasses, the types and styles of hearing aids, and key features to consider.

color photo of a woman talking with another woman. they are looking at hearing aids

Treatment for Tinnitus Uses Your Tongue

You might have heard about a new, FDA-approved treatment that may help your tinnitus. The device, called Lenire, stimulates your tongue while generating sounds. The goal is to train your brain, in a sense, to pay less attention to the tinnitus.

Read more in this NPR article. If you’re interested, you can find a clinic that offers Lenire here.

If you’ve tried this new tinnitus treatment, please let us know how it works for you: webmaster@hearingloss-wa.org.

black and whit ephoto of a young woman covering her ears

Hearing Loops & Telecoils Spotlight

Pass-Through Spaces Need Loops, Too

Sometimes called “transient spaces,” these are the places you pass through briefly: information desks, ticket booths, and checkout counters. It can be really difficult to hear in those contexts, but an assistive listening system can improve customer service and communication, and help keep the line moving.

Hearing loops can help in these types of places. Read more from The Center for Hearing Access at The Shedd Institute.

color photo of three people smiling behind a counter. they'e holding signs with the blue ear symbol for hearing loop access

Hearing Loss Support Groups and Other Events

Hearing Access Awaiteth Thee at the
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival continues through the summer and into the fall with ASL planned performances, assistive listening devices, and closed caption tablets in several theaters.

You can currently get tickets for Macbeth, Virgins to Villains, Lizard Boy (an indie rock musical), Coriolanus, and many more.

Mariners Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Night

The Seattle Mariners are in first place in their division. At least for now. Really!

So why not join them for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Night on September 28, 2024. Tickets are specially priced at $45 for the Main Level and $25 for View Level.

If you’d like to attend, please contact Ashima Verma, aashima.verma10@gmail.com. Ashima will coordinate our group attendance. If we have 20 or more fans in our group, we get free tickets and an announcement on the screen.

HLAA-Whatcom County Meeting
July 20, 2024

The award-winning HLAA-Whatcom County Chapter meets the third Saturday of every month, 10-11:30 am, at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Bellingham. At July’s meeting, the topic is “How We Have Fun!”

Virtual Hearing Loss Support Meeting
Find HOPE on August 7, 2024

Facilitated by a caring, compassionate HOPE Crew, these monthly virtual meetings are free, live-captioned, and open to everyone with hearing loss and to their friends and family. You’re welcome to ask questions, and also to simply relax, listen, and spend time with people who understand what it’s like to live with hearing loss.

Read the notes from the July HOPE meeting here. The group talked about healthcare access, restaurant TV caption, and more.

HOPE meets the first Wednesday of each month at 4:00 pm. We hope you can join us! 

text reads HOPE, virtual support group for living well with hearing loss, HOPE hearing other people's experiences

NO Renton Hearing Loss Support Group
Meeting in July or August

Our Renton support group meets the second Friday of each month (except July and August) at 1 pm at the Renton Senior Activity Center, 211 Burnett Avenue North, Renton. No need to register; simply check in at the front desk.

This group is led by our award-winning HLAA-WA Secretary Glenda Philio. A hearing loop is available, and everyone is welcome. Always free.

We’ll see you in September!

Seattle-Area ASL Social Events Offered

Seattle has an active community of people who use ASL. Several groups offer different events, and you’re sure to find one you like. Here’s a sampling:


black and white map of washington state with photos of people

Stay Involved with HLAA and HLAA-WA

We’re glad you’re part of our community.

What more can you do to support people with hearing loss?

HLAA-WA does not endorse any technology, nor does exclusion suggest disapproval. We support the full spectrum of hearing technologies for everyone. As an all-volunteer run organization, 100% of every dollar donated is directed to our programs. HLAA-WA is an IRS non-profit 501(c)(3) organization; all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by relevant IRS code.


Related Posts

Awards and Scholarship Winners, Access, BAHA Hearing Aids, and More News

Welcome to our June news! Our next newsletter arrives July 9, 2024. Until then, we’ll see you in Phoenix at the HLAA convention!

Washington State Hearing Loss News

What’s a BAHA Hearing Aid, Anyway?

In this three-part blog series, “The Things We Do When We Have a Hearing Loss,” Rick Faunt writes with humor and wisdom about his hearing loss journey. In the third and final post, he discusses his surgery and recovery, and why a BAHA was a good solution for his hearing loss.

color photo of side of head, baha hearing aid, and ear


Local Hearing Loss Advocates Receive National Awards

Four Washington State advocates will receive national HLAA awards this month at the HLAA convention in Phoenix.

Find out who in this blog post.

We’re beaming with pride and gratitude.

3-photo montage, two smiling women and one woman with hear arms around two grade-school children in front of the state capitol. text reads 2024 national hlaa award winners


We’re Looking for a New Treasurer. Is It You?

Our longtime treasurer and board member Rick Faunt is stepping down this year. That means you have an opportunity to join our board.

Read more about what’s involved with the role and find out how to apply on our website.

hand drawing red line under the words join us

Reminder: Our Annual Picnic Is July 20

We’re returning once again to Lake Boren Park for our picnic on July 20, 2024, in Newcastle, Washington. Everyone is welcome. A hearing loop and PA system are provided. We’ll have a raffle and perhaps some open mic and sharing.

Stay tuned for more details.

white illustrated outline of a picnic basket on purple background. text reads annual hlaa-wa picnic, everyone is welcome, join us for a hearing-friendly summer picnic, july 20, 2024, lake boren park, newcastle, wa

You Want to Talk to My Caregiver?
Stories from Life with Hearing Loss

In a recent trip to a “Buy-A-Lot-Co” store, hearing loss advocate Greg Bawden encountered a strange reaction from a staff member when he pointed out that staff needed training in communicating with hard-of-hearing folks.

Greg describes what happened and what he did next in an article on his LinkedIn page.

photo of a shopping cart looking down the aisle of a costco-type store

Whatcom County Chapter Announces 2024
Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to Jace Stanley and Jesse Stewart winners of HLAA-Whatcom County’s Founders Fund scholarships. Both Jace and Jesse attend Lynden High School, and each is now eligible to receive $500 a year for up to 4 years of post-secondary education.

color stock photo of a jar of coins, plus a small graduation cap

News from the Washington State Association of the Deaf: Emergency Planning, Community Art, and More

  • Community Meeting with the Everett Police Department – Learn about how the Everett police plan to better serve the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at 2:00 pm at the Everett Police office, 1121 SE Everett Mall Way. Captions and ASL provided.
  • The Coalition on Inclusive Emergency Planning is working on distribution of ASL emergency alerts, interpreter availability, and ASL classes for the Emergency Management Division.
  • Deaf Spotlight is showcasing a community art exhibit, “Summer Solstice,” June 1 – 30th, 2024. The exhibit also features a reception on June 22, 2024.
color photo of a man with glasses in a light green shirt using ASL to communicate with a kindergarten-aged boy in glasses and a dark green shirt


Local Classes Aim to Help You Prevent Falls

Hearing loss is linked to an increased risk of falling. Beyond getting hearing aids, what else can you do to reduce the risk of a tumble?

Several different types of falls prevention classes are available not only in King County, but across the state. Project Enhance Fitness, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), Otago, and a Matter of Balance (MOB) classes are available, and in long-term care facilities, a program called STEADI is being tested.

For more information, check out your local senior and community centers. You can also check these resources for more classes, home safety checklists, videos, and more about preventing falls.

color photo of man with silver hair and a light blue shirt taking an exercise class. he's holding a pole above his head and smiling. other exercises are in the background

National Hearing Loss News

Telehealth Accessibility Is Long Overdue

Telehealth can be a huge help in getting care, especially if you have a disability, live in a rural area, or have barriers to getting to a doctor’s office.

One barrier that needs to be addressed to ensure equal access: telehealth accessibility. Telehealth captions are needed for millions of people who have a hearing loss.

More in this article in STAT News.

color photo of woman in blue scrubs and a long dark ponytail. she's looking at a laptop

Deaf Filmmaker Tells Stories in a Different Way

This story caught our attention. Deaf filmmaker Alison O’Daniel is the director of Tuba Thieves, a film that takes a very different approach to filmmaking.

“The goal was to make the viewer feel the film physically, and be very active. And also to recreate a visual version of the feeling I have with my hearing: a lack of clarity or ownership over the image,” she says in this PBS article.

Tuba Thieves has shown on the film festival circuit, including at Sundance, but you can also watch it on the PBS Independent Lens website.

color photo of woman in large glasses and orange shirt. bright blue background

Airport Hearing Accessibility Improvements Arriving Soon

Few places can be more frustrating than airports, especially if you’re trying to hear announcements, talk to a gate agent, or find your way around.

Good news: Flying while you have a hearing loss is about to get easier.

photo of woman from behind. she's wearing a backpack and gazing up at a digital airport arrivals board

Hearing Loops & Telecoils Spotlight

How Do I Pay for a Hearing Loop?

Hearing loop advocates often get the question, “But how do I pay for the loop?” There are lots of ways, including direct fundraising from parishioners, patrons, and the community.

But there are lots of other ways. Here’s a list of ways to help fund hearing loops at different types of venues.

split screen. left side is a stack of coins with a tiny green plant. right side is the purple universal symbol for hearing loop access

Airport Loops Await You in Phoenix, Memphis

If you’re headed to the HLAA convention in Phoenix this month, be sure to use the hearing loops at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Thank you to the wonderful hearing loss advocates in Arizona (Michele Michaels!) who made that happen.

If you trip takes you through Memphis, we’ve learned that there are loops throughout the Memphis airport, too. Ditto for the Albuquerque and Grand Rapids airports.

We encourage you to turn your hearing aid to T or telecoil mode and tune into the airport loops to make your trip easier and more comfortable.

a photo taken from the back of a man with red hair and a buttondown shirt. he's holding a suitcase and gazing out toward the tarmac of an airport.

Hearing Loss Events

Renton Hearing Loss Support Group
Friday, June 14, 2024

Our Renton support group meets the second Friday of each month (except July and August) at 1 pm at the Renton Senior Activity Center, 211 Burnett Avenue North, Renton. No need to register; simply check in at the front desk.

This group is led by our award-winning HLAA-WA Secretary Glenda Philio. A hearing loop is available, and everyone is welcome. Always free.

white text on purple background reads hearing loss help, renton support group, june 14, 2024, renton senior activity center

HLAA-Whatcom County Meeting
Saturday, June 15, 2024

The award-winning HLAA-Whatcom County Chapter meets the third Saturday of every month at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, 2600 Lakeway Drive, Bellingham, Washington. Social time starts at 9:30 am and the meeting runs from 10:00 – 11:30 am. Live CART and a hearing loop provided. Everyone is welcome.

For more information on in-person hearing loss support, visit our website.

white text on purple background reads hearing loss help, whatcom county, june 15, 2024, 9:30, christ the servant lutheran church, bellingham

Virtual Hearing Loss Support Meeting
Find HOPE on July 3, 2024

Facilitated by a caring, compassionate HOPE Crew, these monthly virtual meetings are free, live-captioned, and open to everyone with hearing loss and to their friends and family. You’re welcome to ask questions, and also to simply relax, listen, and spend time with people who understand what it’s like to live with hearing loss.

Read the notes from the June HOPE meeting here. The group talked about healthcare access, restaurant TV caption, and more.

HOPE meets the first Wednesday of each month at 4:00 pm. We hope you can join us! 

text reads HOPE, virtual support group for living well with hearing loss, HOPE hearing other people's experiences

Learn About ODHH’s Case Management Services at Meetings Across the State

Understand your rights, find out how case managers can help you, and discover new resources and services at three community meetings coming up in June with the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH).

  • Tuesday, June 11, 10 – 11 am, Bellingham DSHS, 2219 Rimland Drive, Suite 419, Bellingham
  • Tuesday, June 11, 2 – 3 pm, Seattle DSHS, 1700 East Cherry Street, Suite 200, Seattle.
  • Wednesday, June 12, 10 – 11 am, Tacoma DSHS Centennial Building, 1949 S State Street, Tacoma.

Captioning and ASL provided. Free.

log of the washington state department of social & health services ODHH office of the deaf and hard of hearing

Last Chance to Register for the HLAA Convention

Celebrate with friends old and new at the Welcome Back Bash and the Awards Ceremony, learn about new technologies, and soak up some Arizona sunshine at the 2024 HLAA convention, June 26-29, 2024 at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse in Phoenix.

We’ll be there. Will you?

color photo of two women at a trade show looking at a hearing aid

Happy Pride Month

At HLAA-WA, we wish our friends and members in the LGBTQ+ community a very Happy Pride Month in June.

hand with long red fingernails holding a rainbow heart

Stay Involved with HLAA and HLAA-WA

We’re glad you’re part of our community.

What more can you do to support people with hearing loss?

black and white map of washington state with photos of people

HLAA-WA does not endorse any technology, nor does exclusion suggest disapproval. We support the full spectrum of hearing technologies for everyone. As an all-volunteer run organization, 100% of every dollar donated is directed to our programs. HLAA-WA is an IRS non-profit 501(c)(3) organization; all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by relevant IRS code.


Related Posts

The Things We Do When We Have a Hearing Loss
Part Two

By Rick Faunt, HLAA-WA Treasurer

photo of headphones, ear probe, and an audiology exam report

I left off in Part 1 of my story with the hope that a half-dozen surgical attempts to correct a hearing loss would result in stabilized hearing. You may remember that my hearing loss was caused by a nonfunctioning Eustachian tube that allowed a bumper crop of germs, bugs, and other slimy things to grow and feed upon the middle ear bones. Unfortunately, my usual luck continued to hold true after these surgeries.

Success…Kind of

Yes, the surgeries did work. I got a 20 dB improvement in the hearing on my right side that lasted almost a year. But — and there’s always a “but,” isn’t there? — the “permanent” ventilation tube that was supposed to allow the ear to drain and keep the pressure equal got plugged, and it needed some TLC from the doctor.

I didn’t really notice the decrease in hearing until I had my annual follow-up hearing test and exam by the staff at the Veterans Affairs Regional Medical Center. The audiologist noticed that my hearing level had dropped since the post-surgery test, and I had effectively lost about half of the gain we had made. He also noted that the eardrum had a poor response to the pressure test.

After giving me that batch of good news, he sent me out to the waiting room to think about things until the ENT doctor could see me. The luck of the draw gave me the resident doctor this time instead of the head doctor. Oh goody, more practice for a resident! I am convinced that my chart is stamped with big letters saying, “This guy is a great guinea pig.”

Sharp, Pointed Objects….Ooops

The resident doctor looked in my ear and determined that the tube was plugged up. He tried to unstop it using a variety of sharp, pointed objects. When these didn’t work, he tried the suction hose. That worked, I guess. It sucked out the tube along with whatever was clogging it.

Upon hearing him say “Oops!” I became decidedly unfriendly. After exchanging thoughts and plans of action, we decided to let the ear heal, and I’d come back in a few months to see if any fluid had built up. He decided this after I explained in my calm, quiet, reasonable manner that the reason the tube was in my ear in the first place is because I have a long history of fluid building up and causing problems.

I waited the three months it takes for things to heal, or maybe they felt it takes that long for me to calm down. When I returned, this time I got the man, the head honcho himself, the guy that did the surgery. He looked in my ear and concluded that I needed a tube inserted to drain the fluid that had built up. Maybe the look of absolute disgust on my face had something to do with it, or maybe he suddenly recalled some of my discussions with his staff. Either way, he then apologized and said that getting a new tube inserted would probably become a routine part of my hearing care plan.

So, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Stay tuned for part three.

About the author

Rick Faunt has been a member of HLAA, in its several names, since 1996. He has held nearly every office at the Chapter and State level and continues to this day. He is a retired Boeing worker and was a consultant/installer of various Assistive Listening Systems for the hard of hearing.

The Things We Do When We Have a Hearing Loss

By Rick Faunt, HLAA-WA Treasurer

I have different hearing losses and causes on both sides. On the left is Meniere’s Syndrome, and on the right, a combination of problems culminating in the loss of the bones in the middle ear. It is my right side that this blog post will cover.

I have never had an earache without a sore throat or vice versa, and it took me until I was 37 years old to figure this out. Some people are slow learners. When I developed a sore throat that turned my right ear into a throbbing drum of pain, I figured it was time to let a professional look at it instead of relying upon the old home remedy of wrapping my ear in Saran wrap and gutting it out.

Since I was retired from the U.S. Navy and am being “followed” by the Veterans Administration for hearing loss and related complications, I called the VA to make an appointment. After being on hold for what seemed to be a week but was only about 20 minutes, the other shoe dropped.

“Yes sir, we would love to see you, but our next opening is not for 3 months. Can you wait?”

Since I am a calm, collected, patient, and understanding individual, of course I said… If you have ever heard the phrase “he cusses like a sailor,” then you have some idea how that part of the conversation went. The gist was something like, “Lady, in three months it will have killed me or cured itself, so I won’t need your services,” accompanied by my placing the phone handset back into the cradle at about Mach 30.

So off to a civilian clinic I went instead, only to find out that I needed to see a “specialist.” I hate it when I hear this, as it always seems to mean more pain and more money.

Finally: A Specialist and a Diagnosis

After waiting only two days, I got to see the specialist. This was more like it. The doctor came in, investigated my ear, and said, “Did you know you have a nasty infection?” For this I needed a specialist? Anyhow, he got his doctor tools, put on a full-face shield, and said he’d drain the middle ear and insert a tube. Just as he finished saying this, the face shield was covered with gross yellow and green and red stuff. But I felt 1000% better already.

Now it was his turn to drop the other shoe. All those ear infections, earaches, and whatnot had been caused by a non-functioning Eustachian tube, resulting in a retraction pocket, which in turn resulted in cholesteatoma. If the Eustachian tube doesn’t work properly, the middle ear cannot equalize air pressure or drain, and nasty things start growing. When the tube is working right, you can tell by the “popping” that occurs when you drive over a mountain pass. In my case, that didn’t happen often, and some of my problems when I was SCUBA diving were now also explained.

But about that other shoe. It seems that modern medical miracles include the ability to surgically repair the middle ear, and the doctor felt that I was a good candidate for the procedure–or did he say guinea pig? After thinking about it for a couple of days, I said, “What the heck, doc. Give it a shot.”

The Ear Surgery, Part One

After the surgery, I remember being in more pain than I had ever suffered in my total life. When Michael Ann, my girlfriend, came to pick me up, I lifted one of the patches they had placed over my eyes, looked her in the eye and said, “Go home, get the gun, shoot me.”

I couldn’t figure out why my entire body hurt when all they worked on was one ear! I mean I HURT everywhere, from the hair on my head to the hairs on my toes. After I recovered somewhat and went to the follow-up visit, the doctor explained that after about six months, I had to come back and let him finish the job. This was only part one of a two-part experience. Lucky me. The first trip was primarily to clean up the cholesteatoma and determine the extent of the damage. The bad news: The middle ear bones were all so rotted that they couldn’t be saved. The good news: Modern medical science saves the day by providing a plastic or exotic metal substitute for the middle ear bones.

The Ear Surgery, Part Two

Six months go by, and again I make all the usual arrangements. This time when the anesthesiologist comes in and asks, “Are you allergic to any medications?” I have an informed response: “Most definitely I am, and I hope my chart shows the drugs that were used the last time. I promise you that if I wake up in as much pain this time and I recover I will bring my cement filled rubber hose back here, find you and beat you with it.”

It took him several seconds to respond to that while he was flipping through the chart so fast the pages felt like a fan. The look of combined relief and disbelief on his face made me wonder what was next. It seems that last time, they used curare, the same stuff South American Indians used on their poison arrows, as a paralyzing agent. Normally when used in small amounts, this stuff works just fine; however, lucky me is that “one in a million” who has a bad reaction. When the curare took hold, my entire body underwent a muscle spasm, and every muscle tied itself into a knot and stayed tied for the entire time I was under anesthesia. After telling me all this, he said we had a deal: We wouldn’t inflict pain on each other.

He was true to his word; I didn’t hurt as bad this time. Only my head hurt especially where they stapled my ear back on. Yes, I said stapled. I looked like one of Doctor Frankenstein’s lab rejects. I smelled like one too, since you can’t take a decent shower for a few days. After the staples–or if you are lucky, sutures–come out, you can get your head wet, but not your ear, so you take a shower holding a plastic cup over one ear. This isn’t so bad after all, as it lowers the volume of the singing.

But There’s a Problem

This procedure was supposed to restore my hearing to a good portion of “normal,” and my luck held true to form. The darn thing would not stay in place. My hearing would improve drastically for a short while, then would go away, much like a stereo with a bad solder joint in the volume circuit. Loud, soft, loud, soft. . . and then it stayed soft. Nothing was gained except an infection was cleaned up.

Being a glutton for punishment (I told you I am a slow learner), I let the doctors try to “correct” the positioning of the prosthesis a few more times. Each time it was the same thing – the bad solder joint. I finally gave up hope of fixing my hearing in that ear. I find having hearing aids a blessing in that I can always shut off my hearing when I don’t want to put up with my surroundings.

My resistance lasted about three years before the doctors talked me into trying again. During my annual checkup and evaluation, the doctors noticed that the retraction pocket was forming again, and since they couldn’t see it all, there was a probability that another cholesteatoma was growing.

Another Ear Surgery and a Harvest

The doctor told me it would be different this time. My main goal in this attempt was a permanent ventilation tube placed and a new ear drum built and installed, as per his recommendations. I told him he could take the prosthesis out and throw it into the trash. He wasn’t willing to give up on it yet and wanted to try his idea. Since he had to open the area again anyway, I agreed to let him try. I thought that if the hearing was fixed, so much the better, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up again.

The doctor went in behind my ear and harvested (I love that term; it makes me feel like I’m a crop of some kind) some cartilage. Then he molded it into a replacement eardrum and inserted the tube. Then he took some more cartilage, built a “ramp,” and rested the prosthesis on it. This was supposed to hold things in place while they heal.

After this surgery, the “bad solder joint” didn’t go through the usual swings of loud and clear to soft and muffled. A good sign at last?

Stay tuned for part two.

About the author

Rick Faunt has been a member of HLAA, in its several names, since 1996. He has held nearly every office at the Chapter and State level and continues to this day. He is a retired Boeing worker and was a consultant/installer of various Assistive Listening Systems for the hard of hearing.