Katherine Bouton is the author of “Shouting Won’t Help – Why I and 50 Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You.” and “Living Better with Hearing Loss: A Guide to Health, Happiness, Love, Sex, Work, Friends… and Hearing Aids.” She is a former editor at the New York Times where she worked on the NY Times Magazine and Book Review, and on the daily Science and Culture Desks. Katherine is a frequent speaker to professional and hearing loss groups on hearing loss issues. Her blog appears weekly at AARP online and also on her own site. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America.
I very much appreciate when someone responds to my blog pasts. Recently I got a very nice response from Katherine Bouton about my experiences returning to performing music again. We originally met via Facebook as readers of each other’s posts and blog articles. I greatly respect her writing and admire her work in the hearing loss community, so I decided to reach out to her. One thing led to another, which eventually led to the following interview. I know you’ll enjoy and learn from what she has to say.
Stu: Can you talk about the evolution of your own hearing loss?
Katherine: Other than age related, there is no hearing loss in my family. I lost the hearing in my left ear when I was 30. There was no indication that anything was wrong until one morning when I couldn’t hear on the telephone and later that day developed dizziness and tinnitus. An MRI and other tests all came up negative and it was diagnosed as Idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss. During my 30’s my hearing worsened and affected my right ear. By 50 I was profoundly deaf in the left ear and had a moderate hearing loss in my right ear. In 2002, I got hearing aids and they helped a lot, but my hearing loss continued to progress, often after periods of prolonged stress, and by 2008, I had lost much of the hearing in my right ear. After a series of last ditch measures, I got a cochlear implant in September of 2009.
Stu: What is the quality of your “hearing experience” now?
Katherine: It varies according to the environment and who is speaking. It’s also dependent on my emotional state. During the years immediately following the implant, I lost my job, and five members of my immediate family died – one after the other. I was the oldest child and the point person for all of them and it was stressful and debilitating. It took therapy and medication to get me back to normal (sort of). Now, as long as disasters aren’t occurring, I hear well enough. I’m a good lip reader, and I’m also pretty brazen about asking people to repeat themselves, even asking a whole dinner table full of people to stop and tell me what they’re talking about.
Stu: What hearing technology do you use?
Katherine: I have a Phonak Naida hearing aid and an Advanced Bionics Naida cochlear implant. I use my ComPilot for listening to music and books on my smart phone and I love it. I also have a Roger Pen. I use captions on TV. I’m always delighted to find myself in a venue with a hearing loop. Continue reading