Marianne Kinsman's Story
All my life I have been a very upbeat, friendly, positive person. I am also a person whose friends know they can talk to me about anything with no judgement and knows the conversation stays between us. I’m a great listener, well I was a great listener...... My hearing issues started about 3 years ago when I had very bad Vertigo. This Vertigo lasted for almost 9 months. I had to take time off from work for weeks because I was not able to drive. The dizziness and the ringing in my right ear was starting to make me feel like I was literally going crazy. It wasn’t just ringing either, I heard a banging noise, like someone was banging cymbals. The noises in my ear were so loud that I could have sworn people around me could hear it. I would ask them and they would look at me perplexed. But it was so loud “how can you not hear it?” I fell into a depression because I was never one who let something hold me down. I was forced to miss my kid’s sports events, miss my girl’s nights out, and miss being me. As months went on and the Vertigo started to go away I could not wait to be back to my old self again. Family and friends could not wait either. I had about a month of everything being normal. That’s when I started to notice I was saying “what” ALOT………. I took allergy medication, figuring that’s all it was. But unfortunately it was not that simple. I went to the doctor and he conducted a few tests on me and the result…. I lost 80% hearing in my right ear. That’s when they started to treat it. I was put on oral steroids – did not work. I was given steroid injection – did not work. I was put on a water pill – did not work. I was given an antibiotic – did not work. I went through more tests, MRI, CAT scan to see if they can find the reason behind it. I got to the point that I hoped they found something so then we can work on treating it and everything would be back to normal. That didn’t happen and there was no logical explanation for it other than the vertigo I had. I have always been a cup half full type of person and after it all set in, I was grateful that I had 20% hearing in my right ear and full hearing in my left ear. Some normalcy was setting in. But then, I started to lose hearing in my left ear. Okay breathe, we will figure this out. My benefits with my company were top notch. Hearing Aids 90% covered. I made an appt with a Dr to talk about good hearing aids. Two weeks later I was part of a 200 person layoff from my job that I had for 25 years. Being that I am only 50 that was half of my life. It was devastating, but being a positive person I just kept thinking “everything happens for a reason” RIGHT??? . We were told we would have Cobra Insurance to hold us over for 3 months and the company will pay for it. After 3 months we had to pay. Well, Cobra insurance was $900 a month……for me, not including my kids. I couldn’t afford this and had to go with Obamacare and the coverage for Hearing aids was very small. . . But what choice did I have? I went back to the doctor and ordered my hearing aids. I was so excited about it and would somehow figure out how to pay for them. I had also decided to go to college (for the first time ever) to be certified as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor. This line of work hits way to close to home and I just wanted to be able to help people. Better hearing, education and a new job I was passionate about were in my near future. But after 3 types of hearing aids that I could afford, none of them worked that great. With each hearing aid I tried, I could hear the person in front of me (well maybe) I became pretty good at lip reading) but I couldn’t hear the person next to me. I made it through school but when it came time to take my certification test I realized that I can’t be in this profession with hearing loss. This is a profession where listening is the most important part, where saving a life is on the line. So what good would I be? That’s when I gave up. If hearing aids didn’t work then nothing else will. I started to try and adjust but I fell into a much deeper depression. Life doesn’t stop and wait for you to come out of it. I noticed some friends backed away from me, I stopped getting invited to concerts…and music has always been a life saver for me. My kids were getting aggravated because they had to keep repeating themselves. Bills where coming in, my unemployment pay was done. I am a single mom of 2 teenage boys. One who will be going to college next year. I needed to start looking for a new career. I went on a few interviews but during these interviews I couldn’t really hear the questions that good. That resulted in no call backs. But then I got a job interview that would be a work from home position. Not having to talk to many people during the day and benefits. Perfect right? I ended up taking this job because I needed an income. I took a $35k pay cut…..yes $35,000. But hey, I was able to work from home and get good hearing aids because know I have better insurance. My thinking was I could have this job for 3 months until I was eligible to get the insurance and purchase really good hearing aids. Continue working there but getting my resume back out there, interviewing for better paying jobs so I can comfortably take care of my kids. The day my insurance went into effect I went onto the website and saw that hearing aids were covered…....... up until the age of 15. I was not able to afford the aids that I was so excited about. Just one more hurdle I’ve come to accept that this is my life now, mediocre job that just barely pays the bills, missing out on events and conversations with friends and family. Let’s just hibernate at home and watch TV (with close captioning of course) and get on Facebook so I can keep updated on what’s going on with everyone. One night I came across an ad for some new revolutionized hearing aid. I liked this 1 post and then my entire news feed was full of all these hearing aid ads. I finally clicked on one and it gave me an option to find a Dr locally that would have this. It happened to be Dr. Jill Gordon. I figured ok let me try, I had nothing to lose. I had my first visit on April 3rd . I went through yet another hearing test and my results were “you have very peculiar hearing loss”. Of course I do LOL. Dr. Gordon came in and wanted me to check with one more ENT before we moved on. I made an appt on May 3rd with Dr McFee in Neptune and the determination was there was nothing they can do besides recommending hearing aids. I made a follow up appt with Dr Gordon on May 20th. She received my results from the ENT and agreed about hearing aids. She went on to tell me about these wonderful new hearing aids that you can control from your phone. Left and right ear individually in different environments. Her enthusiasm had me thinking “ok wow, maybe, hopefully, finally,” something will work. Dr.Gordon had put in an order for me. My next appt was on June 5th and I couldn’t wait. I had a good feeling that this might be the thing that will change my life. Then I received a call from Life Alert on May 29th saying that my 82 year old mom fell and broke her hip. I rushed to her side and I’m the first point of contact for her. I did my best to try and understand everything the doctors and nurses were saying and for the first time I didn’t care how many times I said…. “What” “Can you repeat that” “Can you write that down” “Can you look straight at me when you speak”. She is my best friend my world, and I was not going to just nod and agree with anyone. I didn’t want to leave the hospital on June 5th but my Mom insisted I go. This is when I tried these new hearing aids and the smile on my face was noticed by everyone in the office. I could hear the person in front of me, the person next to me, the noises in background…….but if I didn’t want to I have complete control over it on my iPhone and Apple watch. This is just a trial and I am grateful I was given this opportunity. When I asked about the price, my heart sank, my thoughts about getting a new job, being a better provider for my boys, listening to my friends and family was crushed. There is absolutely no way for me to afford these. I then heard about this contest and I figured I should enter and see what happens.
Debbie Freer’s Story
My Mom Debbie Freer has suffered with hearing loss most of my adult life. Growing up my Mom was a cook in hospital and nursing home kitchens which have loud fans which are constantly running so over the years my Mom went from at first just missing a word or two to at times not even knowing you were talking to her unless she was looking at you. Several years back she had went to an audiologist and they recommended a hearing aid but at the time with my Dad's health declining they just couldn't afford them along with all the other bills they had. My Mom and Dad had always worked hard, and they were the ones that planned for the rainy day but in the end the medical bills from my Dad quickly used up that money leaving very little for extras. I watched my Mom take care of my Dad at home up until the day he passed away and she would always feel bad that there were times when he would have to yell for her when he needed help because she just couldn't hear him over the sounds of the oxygen generator or the tv in some instances and for a man suffering with COPD to yell that in itself was a challenge. About a year after my Dad passed my Grandfather had been diagnosed with end stage liver cancer so my Mom sold her home and moved away from her grandkids to help my Grandmother and nowadays on her days off she is taking my Grandmother to doctors and taking her out for the day. She works as much as she can but still has very little extra to spend on something she could use so much. My Mom always put everything ahead of herself and I'd like to help her and take a chance on helping her win these hearing aids which will greatly improve her quality of life. So please help me, help her because at the end of the day she has sacrificed and done so much for everyone around her that she deserves something wonderful.
Daniel Vitello’s Story
My husband, Dan, is a 51-year-old retired Fire Captain who suffers from hearing loss. He loved his job, but after 26 years of being around fire engines, sirens, explosions and heavy machinery, his hearing has severely declined. He still works in the fire profession, but now as a fire instructor. His hearing has been an ongoing issue for a few years, but he is finally taking the time to address the problem. You see, over the past three years, he has been taking care of me, I am a breast cancer survivor. While I was sick, he spent all of his time either taking care of me or working extra hours since I could not work at all. Since his hearing is getting worse, it is now affecting our family and makes his job difficult at times. I would love for Dan to win these hearing aids and be able to hear people and things as he used to in the past. He worked so hard to take care of me, now it’s my turn to help him. He recently had a hearing exam and we realized just how bad his hearing is and how much of a positive impact hearing aids would have in his life; then we saw the cost!! Over $5500!! I battled with the insurance, but they don't pay anything. I am entering him in this contest with the hopes that he can win these hearing aids and improve his quality of life. Dan deserves this, and I am hoping you will vote for him to win these hearing aids - they would be an amazing Christmas present! Thank you all! ~Nancy