Phonak Hearing Device Brings Sounds Back

Retiree didn’t know what she was missing due to a childhood audiological issue.

Marianne Fuhr walking

Hearing aids resolved Marianne’s yearslong battle with hearing loss.

Since retiring and moving to Florida some 15 years ago, Marianne Fuhr and her husband start almost every day the same way: with a brisk five- or six-mile power walk through the powdery sands of Fort Myers Beach.

“We love to power walk,” Marianne says. “We love it so much that we often go back out around 11 a.m. and walk another two or three miles. It’s great exercise, and it’s a great way to get our vitamin D.”

Marianne gets plenty of the “sunshine” vitamin, which develops in the skin from UVB rays. After all, when she’s not on her daily power walk, she’s usually still on the beach swimming, boating or lounging.

Clearly, this “ultra-active” 72-year-old feels at home near the water.

“I grew up on the water in a city in north Germany called Flensburg,” Marianne says of the Baltic Sea port town near the Denmark border. “I left there in 1976, when I came to America and went to work in Washington, DC. That’s where I met my husband.”

Following their retirement, Marianne and her husband moved to Fort Myers Beach, a locale they fell in love with years earlier on vacation. Among the things Marianne brought with her to Florida was a hearing issue that dates back to her childhood.

“My hearing problems started when I got an ear infection in my right ear as a little girl,” Marianne explains. “While trying to clean the infection out, the ear doctor picked away at my ear so much that he destroyed most of the ear drum.

“Ever since then, I’ve had problems hearing out of my right ear, and it’s been quite a problem for me. During meetings at work, for example, if I was at a party or with friends, if someone was talking to me on the right side, I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

“I would just nod and smile and say, Oh, yes. Very nice. It actually made me kind of shy. And after moving to Florida, I was a little disappointed because I could never really hear the ocean waves or the birds or anything if the ocean was on my right side.”

Wait, What?

Marianne isn’t the only member of her family who has such trouble. Her brother deals with hearing impairment as well. He eventually found a solution, but Marianne didn’t know until he visited Florida a few years ago.

“We were in the car. and he was in the front seat with my husband, and I was in the back with my brother’s wife,” Marianne remembers. “She and I were having a discussion, and out of nowhere, my brother chimed in with his two cents.

“Right away, I said, You can hear what we’re saying? He said, Sure, I can. I have hearing aids. Then he showed them to me. Later that night, he took his hearing aids out, cleaned them and gave them to me to try.”

Shocked by the degree to which her brother’s hearing aids improved her hearing, Marianne vowed to learn if she could be fit with similar devices. To help her with that discovery, she visited Drianis Duran, AuD, of Gulf Coast Audiology.

“Marianne first came to us in 2016,” Dr. Duran recalls. “Her hearing problem was a result of a childhood history of middle ear pathology that resulted in part of her ear becoming damaged.

“Having grown up with this issue, she had simply adjusted to it over the years. When people do that, however, they often forget how some things sound or think it’s normal not to hear voices or other noises coming from all directions, including behind you.

“That’s why hearing loss often goes unnoticed by the person who has hearing loss and why sometimes that person is the last to know there’s a problem. In those cases, family and friends usually pick up on the problem first.

“That wasn’t the case with Marianne. She knew she had a problem with hearing loss. What she didn’t know was that there was a solution other than surgery, which she could have had and actually looked into several years ago but passed on.”

Life-Changing Results

That solution, of course, is hearing devices. In Marianne’s case, not just any hearing devices would work. Because of the nature of her impairment and one other important factor, Marianne required a customized solution.

“In doing my evaluation, I learned that Marianne’s left ear needed to be left alone because she had no issues with that ear,” Dr. Duran explains. “Her loss was strictly in her right ear, where she still has good nerve function.

“We needed to give her a hearing device that would restore balance to her hearing. At the same time, we also wanted to restore her ability to hear sounds and voices coming from all directions with her right ear, including from behind.”

To achieve that objective, Dr. Duran fit Marianne’s right ear with a Phonak hearing device that contains a specially designed receiver that amplifies frequencies she cannot hear while ignoring those that she can.

“The hearing aids Dr. Duran fit me with have changed my life. – Marianne

Marianne received the first such device in 2016. She recently upgraded to a newer version that has improved technology. She’s as thrilled with the upgrade as she was to hear clearly out of both ears for the first time.

“I’ll never forget going home the day after I got my first hearing aids from Dr. Duran and calling my daughter on the phone and saying, Guess what? I can hear out of both ears,” Marianne recalls. “I actually had the phone up to my right ear, and I could hear her.

“I had never been able to do that before. I also remember going out to the beach for our walk the next morning and hearing the waves and the birds. It was a very emotional moment, and to this day, I never take those sounds for granted.

“The hearing aids Dr. Duran has fit me with have changed my life. I can hear all kinds of conversations very clearly now, even in crowded places like restaurants. It’s the most wonderful thing.

“I’m very fortunate to have found Dr. Duran. I visit her every six months for checkups and adjustments on my hearing aids, and she’s absolutely wonderful. She’s an exceptional doctor, and she always makes you feel comfortable. I recommend her to anyone.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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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 hearing loss, and dizziness and balance disorders. She received her doctorate degree in audiology in 2006. She holds credentials from the American Board of Audiolog... Read More

    • Drianis Duran, AuD

      Drianis Duran, AuD, is a board-certified audiologist with clinical expertise in hearing loss, and dizziness and balance disorders. She received her doctorate degree in audiology in 2006. She holds credentials from the American Board of Audiolog... Read More