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Aynsley Holzen, Au.D., sees her hearing loss as a blessing.
“My experience with hearing loss has enhanced my life professionally and personally,” the Kentucky resident said. “Hearing loss is a positive in my life, so much so, that it has become my mission to help those who have hearing loss to experience a life that is limitless.”
First diagnosed with a mild hearing loss in elementary school, Holzen didn’t start wearing hearing aids until she was in college. She shares her hearing journey, how it became her passion as a profession and how her world was blown away when she started wearing Phonak Lyric™ hearing aids.
Aynsley’s Hearing Journey
Holzen had a very gradual hearing loss, and she didn’t notice the gradual decline in her for a long time. Her hearing loss was first diagnosed when she was around five or six, when she failed a hearing test in school, and her parents took her to an ENT.
The doctor said she had a mild hearing loss in both ears, but advised her and her family that there wasn’t a need for hearing aids. It was recommended that Holzen needed to be more proactive about sitting up front in class and communicating with her teachers.
“Looking back retrospectively, I did struggle in school,” Holzen said. “I remember teachers looking at me and seeing the kids staring before I realized that the teacher had asked me a question I hadn’t heard. It was embarrassing, especially when the kids would laugh.”
Her hearing loss was also affecting her social life. During sleepovers, Holzen would have to pretend that she was asleep once the lights were off, because she couldn’t hear what her friends were saying.
“That was hard. You want to be part of everything. You don’t want to feel secluded and alone,” she added. “However, the ENT said it would be like this, and we just had to accommodate the hearing loss.”
A Barrier Turns Into Her Passion
When she attended college, Holzen decided she wanted to be a teacher. A requirement in the education field was to take a speech and hearing screening. “Of course, I failed,” she said. “Although I shared about my mild hearing loss, I still needed a full evaluation.”
When she saw her audiogram, it was the first time Holzen realized the depth of her hearing loss. “They explained I had moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears. Not knowing when it had gotten to that level of loss, they were amazed at how well I had compensated throughout the years. However, they recommended hearing aids,” she added.
Holzen admits that she felt insecure about wearing the hearing aids at first. “I was fit with ITE hearing aids. I was in college, and I was embarrassed that everyone would see them,” she said. “But, I knew that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to wear them.”
Walking out of the hearing aid fitting, Holzen was instantly amazed. “I heard the leaves rustle!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t know my hair made a sound as I pulled it out from underneath my coat. Or, that the zipper made a noise. I was so excited about the new sounds!”
In addition to hearing new sounds, her academics also improved. Her B’s went to A’s. She became more of a participant in class and asked questions. Her life was transformed and so was her future.
“Finding out that I needed hearing aids was not what I wanted to hear, but I feel like it played an intricate role in my life because I wanted to now help others just like me. So, I changed my degree to audiology,” she said. “My life was aligning the way that it needed to.”
Discovering an Invisible Option
Holzen’s favorite hearing devices were her Phonak Audéo™ hearing aids; however, that would change once the office she was practicing in became a Lyric provider. She was fit with Lyric as a trial. And, her world was completely blown away. Holzen felt like the sound quality was exactly how she was supposed to naturally hear all along.
“I’m grateful for the ability to hear with hearing aids. It’s a blessing to fully participate in conversations and to not feel the stress of mishearing something or not hearing something at all. I feel fully engaged,” she said. “But when I was fit with Lyric devices, it took my hearing experience to another level.”
Holzen couldn’t believe that she could take a shower with Lyrics in or sleep with them in. “My husband traveled a lot,” she said. “And, I was worried that I couldn’t hear at night. Plus, we wanted to have a family, and I always wondered how I would hear our children cry at night. Lyric solved that.”
“I realized that I had no limitations with my hearing loss,” she added. “Wearing the Lyric devices for months at a time is so normal that I forget I have a hearing loss, and people are surprised to hear that I have a hearing loss. Lyric is that seamless!”
Helping Others With Hearing Loss
As an audiologist with hearing loss, Holzen feels she’s more empathetic for her patients. “I understand they might feel insecure about their hearing loss or feel the stigma of wearing hearing aids, especially if they’re young.”
Holzen loves telling her hearing journey. It helps others in their own journey. “You shouldn’t hold yourself back if you’re worried about what others might think. Everyone is different, and you have to do what’s best for you,” she added. “Address your issues head on, so you can take the reins of your life back.”
Photocredit: Kriech-Higdon Photography