After hearing loss, Katherine Bouton finds new purpose in life

 

KatherineBouton©joyceRavidforShoutingWon_tHelp_SarahCrichtonBooks_FSG

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

Hear Haiti: Making a Difference

Open Ears is following a group of Sonova team members as they head to Haiti with the Hear The World Foundation. Jason Norby is a Principal Clinical Specialist at Advanced Bionics LLC. He enjoys sarcasm and long walks in the park. His favorite dogs are puppies, and his favorite color is light tan.

Day 6

It’s the end of a long work week. I could feel it in the part of my brain that logs hours slept versus hours awake and energy expended. The summary: not enough sleep to offset the hours awake and energy consumed. It’s been a long week. But you know the feeling when something was mentally and physically taxing, yet the intrinsic reward was worth the cost? It was that kind of week and very worthwhile.

The day started with a trip to a school atop a Caribbean mountain to fit three children with hearing aids. The school sat overlooking the coast and green hills nearby. We made this trip to the school earlier this week. The drive  earlier this week up the rutted dirt road was epic with bouncing and jostling for several minutes, and the occasional sound of wheels loudly rebelling as they tried to gain traction. The small four-cylinder engine strained in rebellion to the load and incline. Today however, the dark clouds more than hinted of rain.

It wasn’t even a question, Cathy Jones, our trip director, flatly said, “We aren’t driving up the mountain because if it rains, we will be in trouble.” Continue reading