Fashion designer discovers a world of sound for the first time

After spending most of her life coping well with being deaf in her left ear, Leeds business woman Lucy Short was diagnosed as being deaf in both ears back in 2009; a diagnosis she would have never thought could result in her hearing better than ever.

Deaf from birth, it wasn’t until Lucy reached the age of five that she was first diagnosed as being deaf in her left ear. She was given a hearing aid which she found awkward, bulky and difficult to keep in place. “I hated it.” Lucy said. “It looked like a big beige button and kept falling out. I was forever losing it and was frustrated wondering why I had to wear it.”

“I have an older sister who has normal hearing, but my younger sister is also partially deaf – so at home we would play games like hide and seek that didn’t rely on speaking and I was happy and confident,” Lucy added. “At school I was different; I was teased and would wear my hair down to cover my hearing aid. I was the only one with a hearing problem and with the exception of a few close friends I found that the other children didn’t understand.”

Not letting deafness hold her back, Lucy started her own successful fashion label, Blonde and Wise, in 2005. “My hearing has been an issue at times.” Lucy remembers. “I would let my business partner deal with people on the phone and I would make customers write things down so not to make mistakes. If someone shouted something through to me in another room they would think I was ignoring them when I genuinely didn’t hear. I was supposed to be able to hear with my hearing aid.”

In 2009 this all this changed for Lucy when her NHS hearing aid broke. Told she would have a six month wait for a new one, Lucy decided to go private and booked a same day appointment with an audiologist. It was during this appointment Lucy’s hearing was re-tested and she was diagnosed as being deaf in both ears.

“I was totally stunned and in shock.” Lucy said. “I thought with my one hearing aid I was hearing the same as everyone else. At first I was angry it hadn’t been picked up before but then being fitted with my two new digital hearing aids was a revelation. It took a few days to get used to them because everything was so noisy. I was startled by sudden sounds and I could hear new noises like clocks ticking and the fridge humming. It was like another world but it explained why I was missing things people had said. Now when my partner shouts to me in another room and I don’t reply it’s because I’ve chosen not to! With my new hearing aids my confidence has grown, I join in with jokes and going out with friends is much more enjoyable because I’m not missing out on what’s being said.

Lucy’s story not only highlights the fact that with determination hearing loss and deafness doesn’t have to hold you back but it also shows the importance of getting the right diagnosis and treatment. I hope Lucy’s story will encourage others and make people realise the importance of getting the appropriate care.