Downward Slope

If your hearing is changing, you may be the last one to know.

He can joke about it now, but in 1968, when he was the first of more than a dozen contenders to learn he would not be part of the US Ski Team at the upcoming Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, Thomas Sherman could not laugh at all.

“Now, I look back and joke and say that I was No. 1 one on that team because I was the first one they sent home,” Thomas says. “But it took me until I was almost 50 to realize that was still a pretty good deal.”

Now 73, Thomas still skies competitively in his native state of Minnesota, where he’s medaled regularly in regional and national tournaments. Unlike his skills on the slopes, Thomas’ hearing has faded significantly over the years.

As it does with many, Thomas’ hearing faded gradually. A career educator, he first detected trouble about 20 years ago, when he began struggling to hear students clearly. After he retired, the problem crept into his personal life.

“I was saying What? all the time because I couldn’t hear what people were saying,” he says. “After a while, my wife and daughter started getting on me to do something about it, but I never really thought it was that big of a problem.

“Then we went on a cruise last spring. I couldn’t hear anything anyone was saying the whole time I was on the cruise. After that, I finally decided to do something, and that’s when I went to see Dr. Duran.”

More Noticeable to Others

Dr. Duran is Drianis Duran, AuD, of Gulf Coast Audiology in Fort Myers. She is a certified audiologist who says Thomas is typical of many of the patients she sees because, for years, others were more bothered by his hearing loss than he was.

“When I ask a new patient, What brings you here today?, the answer is usually, My wife or My husband, or the patient points to whoever brought them,” she says. “Hearing loss is often more noticeable to others than it is to the actual patient.

“Because the loss is very gradual, people don’t always notice just how drastic their hearing loss is. Many even think their family exaggerates, that they hear well, but their spouse mumbles or talks while walking away from them and things like that.

“Or, they do okay in a quiet environment, but when they get into a restaurant or a crowded setting, they only hear bits and pieces of conversations. That was the problem that finally brought Thomas to us.”

During her initial visit with Thomas, Dr. Duran performed a thorough hearing exam that revealed a severe, high-frequency hearing loss. That is the kind of loss that robs people of hearing clarity and the ability to understand consonants.

Dr. Duran resolved the problem by fitting Thomas with a pair of hearing aids that include Bluetooth® technology, which allows the wearer to stream audio from a TV or smart phone directly through the hearing aids. Thomas says they’ve enhanced his life “immensely.”

“The improvement was immediate,” he raves. “I now hear everything clearly again. I even teased our minister at church, recently telling him, I finally heard your sermon. That’s why I’m so glad I went to see Dr. Duran.

“She’s very good at what she does, and she was very patient with me. Her entire staff was very helpful, and they were all very friendly and encouraging. It’s a good group they have there.”

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    • Gulf Coast Audiology

      Gulf Coast Audiology is owned and operated by Drianis Duran, AuD, a board-certified doctor of audiology. Gulf Coast Audiology offers the highest quality hearing aids, service, repairs, accessories and batteries. They also specialize in vestibul... Read More

    • Drianis Duran, AuD

      Drianis Duran, AuD, is a board-certified audiologist with clinical expertise in the areas of hearing loss and dizziness and balance disorders. She holds credentials from the American Board of Audiology, the American Academy of Audiology, the A... Read More