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Single-side-deafness, hearing aids and my inner space

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A smiling John playing drums at a summer rock festival

Single-side-deafness, hearing aids and my inner space
By John Lalley
Marketing Manager, Marketing and Communications

Part 1

I came to CHS as a client in 2004 for a hearing test, and through a series of tests and consultations with the incredible Dr. Wade and his team, was referred to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where I was diagnosed with a 5.5cm benign skull base tumour called an Acoustic Neuroma.

I had surgery to remove “my little friend” in early 2005. The required surgical approach was through my inner ear, and I came out of the surgery deaf on that side. It was a better than expected outcome; we knew going in that the hearing had to be sacrificed in order to remove the tumour, there was no other choice. The surgeon, Dr. Chen, and his team at Sunnybrook are amazing and they did an incredible job; I am forever in their debt.

I recovered quickly and was generally happy. But coupled with moderate hearing loss from decades of playing music – and the majority of those performances without hearing protection – Single-Side-Deafness presented a challenge. Because of my willingness to get used to my “new normal” as naturally as possible, as well as what I saw as limitations of Single-Side-Deaf hearing aid technology at the time, I was determined to deal with it on my own – and I actually did well. If doing well means lip-reading, strategic seating in meetings and in restaurants, a constant mix of "Pardon me? Excuse me? What was that? Huh? Eh? Say again? Could you repeat that?" and answering "How are you?" with a reply about the weather. My ability to communicate was stilted to say the least. Quick banter, witty repartee and tight conversations in small groups were often lost on me and I love people and conversation and community. I didn't realize how much I was missing.

Then I saw an audiologist at Sunnybrook and my life changed. I told her I was ready to explore a bi-cros hearing aid. These are used by people who have a profound hearing loss in one ear as well as a significant loss in the other ear. A transmitter picks up sound from the device on the ear with the greater hearing loss and sends the signal to a hearing aid worn on the better ear. After conversation and consultation, I chose In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids because I thought they would look better. 

Pretty cool technology. The remote is worn around my neck which has Bluetooth capabilities. I hear the phone ring and the caller’s voice from my hearing aids- I’m glad to say these are the only voices inside my head. I can also stream music through the hearing aids, and thanks to the smart people at Apple, I can use the on-board accessibility features of the iPhone to switch the signal from stereo to mono. I set up different audio programs and did some fine tuning and was amazed at the results…for a while.

Read more about my experience with CHS Hearing Clinics Plus and some new hearing aid technology in Part 2. More to come!

-- John Lalley is Marketing Manager, Marketing and Communications, at CHS. He is a Juno Awarding-winning drummer, kite surfer, and life enthusiast.


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