“Don’t Wait to Get Help with Your Hearing!”
It was Thanksgiving 2016 when Randi Cole first experienced hearing loss. Just 41 years old at the time, she’d had a bad cold, and chalked up the fact that she couldn’t hear out of her left ear to a nasty virus.
“I went to my doctor and he started me on an antibiotic, but that didn’t help,” she said. Even after being referred to a subspecialist who treated her with steroid injections, her hearing loss continued.
“The hearing test showed my hearing loss was pretty severe in my left ear, but I thought I could get by without a hearing aid,” she said.
And Randi did get by, continuing her career as a trainer in the crop insurance industry, and as a wife and a stepmom to two teenage daughters. She even competed in and won the 2019 Mrs. Kansas United States pageant.
“I had never competed in a pageant before, but it was a bet from my husband, and I decided to try it,” Randi said. “When I won, I decided I would make hearing loss my platform, working with the Hearing Aid Project through Hearing Charities of America so that I could help others who couldn’t afford hearing aids.”
Ironically, though Randi worked hard to shine a spotlight on this important cause, the one thing she didn’t do was get a hearing aid for herself.
“I’m kind of stubborn,” Randi admitted. “My hearing loss was affecting me professionally and in my personal relationships with my husband and stepdaughters. I started withdrawing from social gatherings, declining invitations I normally would have accepted because of the background noise. I did a lot of smiling and nodding, but I didn’t really understand what people were saying.”
Dizziness Motivates Action
Unrelated to Randi’s hearing loss, in April 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, she began experiencing extreme bouts of dizziness.
“I remember in one instance I was standing in our living room with my family and I had to grab onto the couch to steady myself,” she said. “I felt like I was on one of those tilt-a-whirl rides at a carnival. I called my doctor and he referred me to Associated Audiologists.”
Danielle Dorner, Au.D., dizziness and balance specialist, performed a comprehensive battery of tests using state-of-the-art equipment to evaluate Randi’s equilibrium system.
She diagnosed Randi with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. The most common cause of vertigo, BPPV is related to the microscopic calcium carbonate particles commonly found in the inner ear. These particles can become displaced and move into one of the ear’s semicircular canals where they do not belong. Most people with BPPV experience brief, intense episodes of vertigo that happen when they change positions.
During treatment, Dr. Dorner performed a noninvasive repositioning procedure to clear the particles out of the ear’s semi-circular canal and place them back into the part of the inner ear where they belong. After just two treatments, Randi’s BPPV was completely resolved. With that problem taken care of, Dr. Dorner suggested she might talk with Dr. Jacobson about her hearing loss and possible treatment options.
Randi agreed. Dr. Jacobson confirmed she has a severe hearing loss in her left ear, and recommended a Widex Evoke 440 hearing aid to improve her hearing.
“I was still reluctant to wear a hearing aid, but my husband reminded me that I had done a lot to encourage others to get help with their hearing loss, and that I needed to do this for myself. He was right,” Randi said.
After Dr. Jacobson fit Randi with her new hearing aid, she couldn’t believe all she had been missing. “I am a nature lover and a bird watcher. I could hear the birds singing again, and on walks, I could even hear the sound of my footsteps. I had forgotten what that was like,” she said.
Today, Randi isn’t struggling to hear conversations at home or at work any longer.
“I’ve had my new hearing aid for several months now,” Randi said. “It matches my hair color and is almost invisible. I show it off every chance I get! It’s been a Godsend. I can’t believe I waited so long to get help!”
She credits Dr. Jacobson and Dr. Dorner with going above and beyond the call of duty to assist her.
“They both did such a good job of getting to the bottom of my issues,” Randi said. “They made me feel really comfortable. No question was off limits. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. They were great!”
In fact, Randi is doing so well, she’ll compete in November as Ms. Elite Johnson County United States Agriculture in the Kansas state pageant.
Her advice to others on the fence about hearing aids?
“I should have done this sooner. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be shy, and don’t wait. Don’t wait!”