Confused, she turned to her husband, wondering why they weren't playing music like they usually did.

"He told me that they were," she recalls. "That was the first time I realized that other people could hear things I couldn't. After that, we went to get a hearing test done, and it was confirmed that I had progressive hearing loss." 

Gabrielle, as it turns out, was suffering from a condition known as Otosclerosis. A vestibular disorder that impacts more than 100,000 Americans annually, it generally manifests sometime between the ages of 20 and 50. The cause is still largely unknown, and there is no known way to prevent it from manifesting.
Some scientists have theorized that there is a genetic factor to the disorder, which is twice as common amongst women as it is with men. Hormonal imbalances may also play a part in the condition's development, particularly those that occur during pregnancy. There is also evidence of a link between the disorder and the measles virus. 

Ordinarily, the ossicles — a trio of small bones in the middle ear that transmit sound from the eardrum to the cochlea — are both flexible and highly sensitive to vibrations. In certain people, however, one or more of these bones begins to grow out of control, eventually hardening to the point that they're no longer able to transmit sound. 
"Over the next year or two, my hearing grew progressively worse," Gabrielle continued. "I eventually visited an ENT and confirmed what was causing it and that I'd need surgery to take care of it." 

Trapped in a Silent World

A mother cries tears of joy over her hearing health diagnosis while her son and daughter smile.At the time of her diagnosis, Gabrielle's hearing loss wasn't severe enough to qualify her for the procedure. Unfortunately, once she did qualify, she made an unpleasant discovery. Her insurance company refused to cover the surgery.

Hearing aids were the only feasible option. Unfortunately, although she tried several, none of them were quite the right fit. Then Gabrielle discovered Connect Hearing.
"My ears are really tiny, so I have issues with a lot of hearing aids," Gabrielle explains. "Andy, the audiologist, actually gave me all the sizes and helped me choose what I needed during the fitting. When something went wrong with my new hearing aids, he always knew exactly what it was and how to fix it."
"I'm always amazed at how well everyone works together," she continues. "They always greet me with a smile and go out of their way to make sure I'm alright. I also love that they offer remote support - I have young children, and scheduling appointments isn't always convenient."
"But I always go in when I can because I love the in-person experience," she adds. "They truly take their time for their customers because they care."

Connect Hearing's TeleHealth solutions allow clients to conduct the majority of their appointments online rather than coming into a clinic. In addition to appealing to busy parents like Gabrielle, this also allows for easier compliance with the COVID-19 recommendations set by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More importantly, teleaudiology requires very little in the way of technical expertise — most calls can be done via Zoom over a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and Connect Hearing also offers several TeleHealth-compatible hearing aids.

An audiologist at Connect Hearing preforming an ear examination.Working with our professional audiologists, Gabrielle evaluated several different brands. Eventually, she was matched with a pair of Phonak rechargeable hearing aids. She knew almost immediately that they were the right choice.

"I don't have to worry about my batteries dying around my one-year-old anymore," says Gabrielle. " And I like the way my hearing aids feel. I have thick hair and love wearing headbands and scarves, and I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort."

Awakening To a Whole New Soundscape

Gabrielle's new hearing aids have not only helped her regain her hearing but also connected her to her surroundings in several unexpected ways.

"It was like putting on glasses for the first time and suddenly being able to see things you didn't even know were there," Gabrielle explains. "It's like a lightbulb went on in my life. I can't even put it into words."

What's more, because her hearing aids are able to stream hands-free audio via Bluetooth, she can take calls with ease no matter what she happens to be doing. This also allows her to connect directly to multiple devices, including her baby monitor. This means that even if she's out in the backyard, she can make sure her baby is safe.
"Initially, my main concern was hearing better in church," recalls Gabrielle. " My husband is a preacher, and prior to working with Connect Hearing, there would be times when I couldn't hear a thing he was saying — I'd even stopped singing, which I used to love." 
"Thanks to Connect Hearing, I'm able to hear everything," she continues. "I can sing again! The sound balancing on my new hearing aids is great, and I'm still shocked at how clearly I can hear both myself and those around me."

With this newfound clarity, Gabrielle has also seen improvements in her social life. She used to avoid restaurants and other public settings because it was near-impossible to talk to anyone. Now, she's able to effortlessly carry on conversations with friends and family no matter where they happen to be.

"Whether I'm listening to recorded messages, streaming video, or listening to music, the audio clarity is absolutely unreal," says Gabrielle. "I used to have to hold my phone to my ear and strain to listen to voice messages. Now, I'm hands-free and can listen with perfect clarity; all I need to do to answer a call is tap my ear twice, and I love that I can easily turn off media or disable Bluetooth altogether if need be."
"My experience has been outstanding," she concludes. "I'm still floored that I can control my hearing aids entirely through a mobile app, and the clarity is totally unreal. I never realized what I was missing out on before now."