Ex-paratrooper Ben Lancaster recently served a tour in Afghanistan. Ben experienced a traumatic incident that resulted in him suffering severe hearing loss in both ears.
While Ben was serving in Afghanistan he was injured by an IED Strike, an improvised explosive device. The explosion left Ben with severe hearing problems – he was diagnosed as an H4 (severe hearing loss) in one ear and an H3 (moderate hearing loss) in the other. The shock of hearing loss had an instant impact on Ben’s life, also affecting his relationship with his wife.
He found it difficult during social situations and with hearing full conversations. Ben is currently awaiting medical discharge.
Ben heard about the Help for Heroes campaign in a hearing newsletter he was signed up for. The Help for Heroes campaign is a scheme to offer British Service men and women who have been discharged from the army, due to damaged hearing, free and state-of-the-art hearing instruments in partnership with Phonak and the Association of Hearing Healthcare Professionals (AIHHP). Upon seeing Vicki Skeels at The Hearing Care Centre inColchester, Ben has been fitted with Lyric 2, the new Phonak device that offers one of the most discreet hearing experiences on the market.
The Phonak ‘Lyric’ is an extended wear hearing device that is 100% invisible and can be worn 24/7 for months at a time. It is available on a yearly subscription and has no batteries to replace. It can be worn during exercising, sleeping, showering and talking on the phone.
Lyric has had an instant impact on Ben’s life. He describes the aid as “absolutely fantastic” and claims his hearing is “like it was before”. His everyday life has improved and so have his relationships with people around him. Having previously had misunderstandings with his wife due to mishearing, Ben now hears everything she says and the device has been very positive for their relationship.
AIHHP Member Mr Robert Davies, of Seaford Hearing Centre in East Sussex has been my Audiologist since 2001. He has made such a significant difference to my life with his advice and ongoing pastoral care that I feel it is worthy to note this to his peer group. My latest Aids are the Phonak ones for significant hearing loss and once again he has identified just the Aid to suit me as well as the ongoing care I am confident to receive. I just hope this e-mail helps him to be recognised better. He certainly has given me courage and confidence to keep functioning in this noisy world of ours.
Thank you for your kind attention in this matter.
“I believe that the greatest service that AIHHP Member Peter Jones provides is excellent follow-up following hearing aid fitting. This aspect of hearing aid provision is often neglected, but Peter Jones continues to review the patients until the hearing aid is adjusted to the patient’s satisfaction.”
MR ANDREW E CAMILLERI FRCS(Ed), (ORL)
Head and Neck Surgeon
“This new hearing aid is real magic! It transformed my life. Now I do not have to worry about going to meetings or big gatherings ( actually even small gatherings were problematic). I used to miss a lot of what was going around me. Now I can hear almost as normal people hear.
I used to get irritated if people whispered in my ears because I did not hear anything. Last month, I had a whole day of whispered translation. It was fantastic!I am very grateful to the excellent service provided by Oxford Hearing Centre. They are very professional, friendly and incredibly helpful. I have been with OHC for 12 years, during which time I have had excellent service. I have recommended the centre to family and friends.”
Dr M Kammal-Yanni
Jack Bullock, 80, from Beddau, Pontypridd, has been playing in some of the world’s top leagues since he was 20.
He is the current British table tennis champion for over-65s and has played in tournaments across the globe.
But he thought he might have to hang up his bat after struggling to differentiate his pings from his pongs.
After growing accustomed to the different noises he could pre-empt the speed of the ball and the direction it would bounce, which saw him rocket to the top of his game.
So when his hearing started to fail Mr Bullock was worried he would no longer be able to keep up his high standards.
He said: “I was terrified it would go altogether and I knew I had to act fast to save my game.
“I heard that there were some pretty hi-tech gadgets out there that could help people like me so I visited AIHHP Member Hearing Aid Solutions in The Optic Shop in Pontypridd and they carried out some tests and fitted me with hearing aids.”
He is now training up to seven times a week at Duffy’s Ex-Serviceman club on Sardis Road in Pontypridd and will soon compete in the European Table Tennis Championships in Croatia in June.
Jack added: “It’s superb. Every sound is so much crisper and I can hear the ball bounce again – just in time for the championships. It was such a relief.
“I want to continue to play table tennis for as long as I can. Before I retired, I was a carpenter and builder so I’ve always led a very active life.
“I loved cricket and football too when I was younger, but as I’ve got older it was table tennis that became my real passion. I don’t see why my age should stop me. I’m fighting fit and I have plenty of time to train.
“It keeps my mind, as well as my body, active and I get to share my experiences with young people who are just taking up the sport.”
Gareth Morris, the hearing aid audiologist from Hearing Aid Solutions who saw Jack, said: “Hearing loss usually develops slowly over time and it can be hard to spot at first.
A singer who almost quit a choir after losing his hearing is urging others not to ignore the problem.
Soloist David Llewellyn was a member of Tenby Male Choir in Pembrokeshire and loved his singing hobby.
But after noticing signs of hearing loss over a number of years he suddenly lost complete hearing in one ear, making it impossible to join in.
The 64-year-old grandfather of two only returned to duty after seeking help from a hearing aid company.
“It’s been coming on gradually for a number of years,” he said.
“I used to make silly remarks to my wife Sally because I had misheard her – she’d ask me a question and I would think she said something else.
“On one occasion over breakfast she said she would make us some eggs if I read the post.
“So I sat down and read the post but when the eggs were ready she asked me where the toast was.”
The problem became much worse five years ago when he suddenly lost the hearing in his left ear overnight. He answered the telephone one morning and could not hear the caller.
“I used to sing solo with Tenby Male Choir but when I couldn’t hear I just lost my confidence, standing in the middle of the choir was too much for me,” he added.
“I was almost in process of packing it all in. The problem I had was due to the loss of hearing at certain frequencies of sound. Once I had my two hearing aids, it was strange being able to hear so much all at once again as my brain wasn’t used to it.
“Then when I sang, I could only hear my own voice and not everyone else’s so I ended up singing too loudly. Now I have a remote control in my pocket for both ears which means I can hear others more than myself and I can gauge what volume to pitch my voice. It’s helped me tremendously. I’m so happy to be able to stay with the choir, I’m even thinking of doing a solo again.
“People think that hearing loss is an old person’s complaint but it isn’t.”
Martyn Scott, managing director of hearing specialist Hearing Aid Solutions and an Executive Member of the Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals, said it took the average person seven years to seek help from the onset of a hearing problem, but it could mean they were leaving it too long.
“There aren’t many 80-year-olds that notice it because they can’t hear the table tennis ball anymore! Jack is a fantastic table tennis player and a really active man so we wanted to ensure he could carry on with the game. We have not fitted many 80-year-olds with this model, but then again, there aren’t many 80-year-olds out who spend two nights a week running around a table tennis table!
“We are so pleased that he can now go on to the British European Championships and wish him lots of luck for the title.”