Single-sided deafness (SSD) is a unique challenge. It’s incredibly frustrating to only be able to hear on one side, especially in noisy or crowded situations when you have little control over your environment.
Baha® 5 recipient and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dan understands that struggle firsthand. He lost all the hearing in his right ear when he was in eighth grade. The cause is still unclear, but his doctors suspected it was a virus that damaged his cochlea or auditory nerve. They told him there was nothing to be done and sent him home.
Dan said that for the most part, he was able to mask his hearing loss while growing up.
“It was something that you didn’t talk about, you didn’t tell anyone— you basically faked it,” he said. “You sat in a certain spot in the classroom trying to keep everything to your good side. When everyone else laughed, you laughed, and when they were quiet, you were quiet.”
He said it didn’t make a large impact on his life until he was a junior in high school, when he applied for the military academy at West Point. He passed the testing and physical exam and was preparing to attend the academy when he was notified that because of his SSD he wasn’t eligible to join the army. They attempted to transfer his appointment to another military academy, but all their physical standards were equal or greater.
“That was really the first time it affected me,” Dan said. “But if West Point hadn’t turned me down, I wouldn’t be where I am today, period.”
He chose to attend Ohio State University instead. On the first day of class he ran into a girl he’d known in high school, and they began talking, hit it off, and started dating. Now, 36 years later, they’re still happily married. [Continue Reading…]