With these words Jeannie summarized the contribution that the Red Bird Hearing Clinic makes in the lives of the people they serve. Jeannie is a forty-five year old woman with a profound loss of hearing in one ear and a moderate hearing loss in the other. She was born with Klippel-Fiel syndrome, a bone disorder resulting in a short neck, limited range of motion of the neck, and slight difference in the size and shape of the right and left sides of the face. Some people with this condition, like Jeannie, also have hearing difficulties. Imagine being born in rural Appalachia, the only person with this disorder that makes you look “different” from everyone you know. As Jeannie says, “it makes you feel weird and shut off from the world.” It was 36 years before she was finally given a diagnosis of her syndrome, a time when it was like “raising a veil from my eyes. I had a new understanding that other people in the world had the same condition.”
When Jeannie was 11 years old her hearing loss was identified and she was fit with hearing aids in both ears. Unfortunately the quality of the amplification was so poor, noisy, and distorted that she rejected the hearing aids. Because of that early experience she did not seek help for her hearing loss until 2014 when a friend told her about the Red Bird Clinic, Inc. Hearing Clinic. She came to the clinic, and after being tested was told she would benefit from amplification and encouraged to give it a try. After two years of waiting on the list of persons to receive hearing aids, she was fitted with a hearing aid for her only hearing ear in November of 2016.
That fitting changed her life forever. Jeannie then realized how much hearing loss she has, and how much she has missed over the years. Now, when she goes to church and talks with family and friends she does not need to have someone explain to her the topic of conversation. She can hear the comments on her own. Previously Jeannie would shy away from and avoid conversations with people because she could not understand them. Now she has become outgoing. She has made new friends. She seeks conversations and interactions. Her friends can only say, “Wow!” And when she takes the hearing aid off, she feels as if she “is in a hole.”
Jeannie’s experience with the Red Bird Clinic, Inc. Hearing Clinic exemplifies the contribution they are making to the people with hearing loss that come to them for help. She wants all to know how grateful she is to Red Bird Clinic, Inc. for all that they do for people, and for the new life that she has because of them.
Robert W. Keith, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor – Communication Sciences and Disorders & Professor Emeritus – Otolaryngology
University of Cincinnati