According to the Hearing Health Foundation, hearing loss affects three in five veterans returning from war, and hearing loss and tinnitus are the top two reported health concerns among service members both active and veterans.
This Veterans Day, we highlight the story of Denise B., a veteran who served our country, battled hearing loss and is now hearing again today with her cochlear implant.
“My hearing loss journey began in my mid-30s while serving on active duty. My military service started right after college primarily as training in my field of nutrition and dietetics.
As part of my military service, I was selected to earn a master’s degree in nutrition, and then a doctorate in food and food systems management.
During my course work for my doctorate, I noticed significant ringing (tinnitus) in my right ear, which was accompanied by high-frequently hearing loss, cause unknown.
As time progressed, my right ear hearing continued to decline. I continued to manage my career and assignments and then retired as a Lt Colonel in 1995 with 21 years of service.
After my military service, I pursued a second career as a college professor. In 2008, my left side hearing declined significantly. I now was profoundly deaf on both sides and began pursuing a cochlear implant as a treatment option for me. In February 2009, I received my first cochlear implant with the Freedom Sound Processor.
After I received my cochlear implant, I continued to teach with support from co-workers and a change to more online teaching. In summer 2009, I was able to spend a month in London teaching with the university international studies program. My cochlear implant allowed me to continue to teach full time for two more years and then part-time for an additional two years.
My husband and I travel internationally and in the U.S. The cochlear implant with the Mini-Mic helps me tremendously on our guided tour trips. The commentary is even more accessible with the help of the Mini-Mic, and I actually get to learn about each of the places we visit. We waited a lifetime to be able to travel and now we do. Next year we have plans for a cruise through the Panama Canal and a second trip to Alaska.
In my immediate future is a second cochlear implant! I’m looking forward to hearing with both ears.
Because my life is full of travel and grandchildren, it is a joy to be able to be part of soccer games, dance recitals, church programs, and caring for grandchildren on snow days or sick days.
I would find all these things very difficult without my cochlear implant and the wonderful technology that makes sound available to me again.
My husband and I are volunteer leaders for our Cochlear Community Chapter in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2009, when I had my first cochlear implant, there was no one I could talk with about what to expect, and now there are so many of us. We are both committed to being available to anyone who is seeking information about cochlear implants and what the possibilities are for improved hearing. I have been so blessed by this technology and the support of the Cochlear team.”