Hearing loss affects every aspect of a person’s life, and for Lanie Singer Browar, 58, hearing loss has played a role in her life since she was a child. The Kansas City native grew up with a moderate to severe loss and now has a profound hearing loss that also categorizes her as “legally deaf.” Lanie was fit with Halo 2 (iNOW) hearing aids in March 2016 and we caught up with her after reading her review on Halo 2 on Facebook. Below Lanie shares her story and her Made for iPhone heaing aid successes.
When did your hearing loss begin?
LB: I’ve always had a loss. It has progressively gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I have never let it define me. I have also never had an issue telling people that I am impaired.
What type of hearing loss do you have?
LB: I am not entirely sure, I think it is sensorineural. At one time it was thought to have been caused by ear infections and high fever I had as an infant. More recently it has been speculated that my mom might have been exposed to the measles when she was pregnant. I haven’t been overly concerned with the why, more with the how do I go forward and function.
Is your hearing loss mild, moderate, severe or profound?
LB: I think when I was younger it was moderate to severe, but has been profound for many years. My audiologists categorized me as “legally deaf”.
What difficulties did your hearing loss cause and why?
LB: Because my speech recognition is so poor, about 40% now, I have always read lips. I didn’t even realize how often people spoke to me and I ignored them, because I didn’t hear them, until my kids were old enough to tell me…”Mom, that lady was talking to you and you walked away!” Talking on the phone has always been difficult, recently it has become impossible. I quit attending social functions, it is really isolating to be in a room with 100s of people and not be able to carry on a conversation.
What are your hobbies and profession? Has your hearing loss affected either at all?
LB: I currently run a product fundraising company. Prior to that I owned a screen printing and embroidery business. I closed it in 2013, in part because communicating was becoming increasingly difficult. As far as hobbies go, I love to read, play puzzle games online, fish and recently discovered I like to workout! I tend to be drawn to solitary-type activities that don’t require me to use my hearing.
Did or do you have any coping methods for dealing with your hearing loss?
LB: I never have a problem telling people that I am impaired. Visiting the Starkey Center for Excellence has really helped me have a better understanding of how the ears and brain function together, and given me a better understanding of my loss, which has helped me cope with it, as has helped me explain my issues to others. I have a very supportive husband and family.
Are your Halo 2 hearing aids your first pair? If so, why did you decide to get them now? If not, tell us more!
LB: I have worn aids since I was a teenager. As a child my parents were told that there weren’t any aids that would help my loss. It has never been a straight loss. I’ve never heard high pitches unaided. Bells, flutes, the last few keys on a piano. My early aids really didn’t help much. Once digital aids come out, there was a little improvement. The last 4 years or so, I’ve worn Starkey’s newest technology, each new generation of aids improves my hearing and my quality of life. The improved clarity of speech from the Halo 2s is amazing. I am someone that will never be able to not rely on lip reading and closed captioning, but with these aids I can hear enough of the conversation to be an active participant.
How do you like your hearing aids so far?
LB: I couldn’t be more satisfied. The new TruLink app gives me so much control. I love having the onboard button to switch programs without opening the app as well. Stream boost is a great help when I am on the phone. I also feel more confident at work.
How have your hearing aids helped to tackle the difficult situations and/or sounds you experienced with your hearing loss and without hearing aids?
LB: Without my aids I can’t even hear myself talk on “bad hearing” days. The barometer affects my hearing tremendously, with the weird spring we have had, I would be unable to function without these aids.
Anything else we should know about?
LB: I think the most unusual thing about me is my ability to speak. I never thought about it, but the first time I came to Minnesota, Tani Austin was talking to me. She looked at my hearing chart and said, no wonder your family doesn’t understand how bad your hearing is, you don’t speak like someone with your degree of loss. I had never given it any thought, that conversation generated an awareness of how people perceive me. I’ve never been ashamed of my hearing loss, or used it as an excuse. I’ve never worried about hiding my aids, but I now realize that even people that work with the hearing impaired community don’t pick up on my loss unless I tell them. That simple conversation with Tani, empowered me in a very intangible way. It made me seek out information that has helped me better understand my loss, cope with it and explain it to others, which has improved my ability to communicate as well the communication skills of people I interact with. I have several friends that are experiencing mild loss, I am quick to tell them to get tested and get aids ASAP, before their brain loses cognitive ability. I will be forever grateful for the continued research and development Starkey does.