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:
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.
Read Gael’s interview with more about Betty for more good stuff:
Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org.