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Sharing Stories

Betty’s Story

A Great Grandmother's story
By Betty Coombs

I was born in Brooklyn, New York February 12, 1919.  The youngest of three children and hard of hearing.  I was not diagnosed as hearing impaired for many years as there was so little that Doctors knew about hearing loss in those early days.  I went all through school depending on my lip reading skills and my ability to read at an early age. Finally, at age 19, after having graduated from high school, I purchased my first hearing aid.  That was a body aid with Chrystal batteries that would last for about 3 hours.

Over the years, I progressed from the body aid to the behind the ear with a crossover, always battling the whistling that occurred as soon as I turned up to volume to where I could hear something. The whistle didn't bother me as I couldn't hear it but it bothered all the people around me and I soon had the title of "Whistler's Grandmother".

In 2002, I was able to have a cochlear implant implanted in my head and life was suddenly very different. I was able to understand speech immediately and soon discovered that we live in a very noisy world. Hearing the environmental sounds, like birds, is a thrilling thing to me.  Learning the different bird calls is a goal for me.  Understanding what my great grandchildren are saying to me is so wonderful. I am grateful that I have lived long enough to experience the sounds of this world.

Betty Coombs

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