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Gael Hannon on My Friend Betty

Gael Hannan on “My Friend Betty, Extraordinary Person with Hearing Loss”

By Gael Hannan, Hearing Health Matters, 8/18/2013

Next week I’m going to Portland for  the annual Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention, and I can’t wait.  Forgive me for being corny, but my absolute favorite part of the event is chatting with amazing people, who come fromeverywhere, with heart-rending and hilarious stories to share and a willingness to listen to yours.

Betty Coombs is one of those people.  Betty once wrote Oprah Winfrey to suggest me as a guest for her show. I never got the call from Oprah, but  it’s time for me to write about Betty.

I met her at my first Convention, in 2002 in Seattle, where I was the Keynote Speaker. Shortly after I finished my performance, an older woman came at me, gripping a cane in one hand and a dog leash (attached to a dog) in the other. She pounded her cane and pronounced, “My name is Betty Coombs and I want to know how you know so much about me? As you talked, I said to myself, ‘Betty Coombs, that’s your life!”  Then she gave me the widest, most devilish grin I’ve ever seen.

How could I not fall in love with her?

Recently, I received this letter from Betty:

Dear Friends,

I am 94 years old and before I leave on my last Adventure I would like to share a discovery I have made.

Eleven years ago I got a Cochlear Implant.  Most wonderful operation I had ever had.  This opened up a whole new world for me.

What I didn’t know was how to make the right decision about which ear should be implanted. I was very healthy, no signs of heart problems, so I chose my left ear for the operation. Ten years later I fell, breaking three bones in my left shoulder. Finding my processor in the bedclothes was one big chore for the nurses.  I now have a pacemaker, left side. Oxygen on 24/7. Everything hangs on my left ear. If I had it to do over I would choose my right ear but it took me 7 trips to the hospital to make that decision [realization].

We get too soon oldt and too late schmart.

Betty Coombs

Read Gael’s interview with more about Betty for more good stuff:


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