I’d like you to imagine for a moment what it would be like to lose your hearing. To no longer hear your spouse’s or mother’s voice, or hear your child’s first words.
That was my reality. That’s why I hope you understand the incredible gratitude I feel for the professionals at the Rotary Hearing Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, and for the caring donors to St. Paul’s Foundation, like you, who help to make their work possible.
I am sharing my story because I want you to know that your gifts to St. Paul’s Foundation helped fund the programs and technology that contributed to changing my life in profound ways.
I contracted measles as a young child, which caused me to lose my hearing. At first, nobody knew. Then my preschool teacher noticed that I stopped talking and didn’t interact with others the same way my schoolmates did, but that I could follow instructions when I looked at her. She suggested my parents have my hearing tested with an audiologist. Turns out my teacher was correct!
I received my first hearing aids when I was six. My hearing wasn’t perfect with the hearing aids but I managed to do well in school and had a pretty normal childhood. By the time I was in high school my hearing had become worse. And my parents and I were told there were no options to better my hearing.
Hard to hear
As a teenager, I suffered from tinnitus: a constant, very loud, ringing in my ears. The ringing forced me to give up my passion ̶ playing drums in my school’s concerts and jazz bands. My family doctor was concerned about further damage to my hearing, and the tinnitus didn’t allow me to hear my bandmates well enough to play in sync. I was heartbroken.
It wasn’t until my adult years that I had the opportunity to improve my hearing. I had gotten married to my wife, Fatima, and we had our son. While I missed hearing his first words clearly, that wasn’t the worst of it. A small child doesn’t understand hearing loss. When he was a toddler, my son would become very frustrated with me. We had difficulty communicating and would butt heads often. This was not the relationship I wanted to have with my son.
With sheer frustration and a determination to do whatever I could to improve my hearing, I asked my doctor for any solutions. He sent me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist who felt I might be a candidate for a cochlear implant, and ordered an MRI and a CT scan to start the process. I was overjoyed when I was referred to St. Paul’s Rotary Hearing Clinic.
Turning up the sounds of life
In 2016, a year after my initial referral, I received a cochlear implant in my right ear from Dr. Jane Lea. Six weeks later it was switched on, and it was life-changing! I could hear sounds I had not heard since childhood. I felt reborn. I felt an immense amount of gratitude to St. Paul’s doctors and audiologists who had made this miracle of hearing possible for me.
The results were so positive that when a pilot program for second implants was launched in 2020, I went back and became a candidate for my second implant – with a four-year wait list. That was fine with me though, I could wait.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait four years! In February 2021, I received my second implant from Dr. Brian Westerberg. When the audiologist switched on the second cochlear implant, I was even more overjoyed than I had been with the first. I had tears of joy streaming down my cheeks; I was hearing the sounds of everyday life again, in stereo!
Listening to patients
For each of my cochlear implants, I worked closely with an informative and supportive group of audiologists. They were and continue to be true partners in my hearing journey, making all of the fine-tuning adjustments to personalize my hearing experience. This has made all the difference in my quality of life.
I am still so excited about my new hearing ability that I use my phone to record all the sounds that are new to me. I can now enjoy rock music! One of my favourite things to do when I am driving is to talk to my son in the backseat because now I can hear him clearly without needing to turn around.
For most of my life I was dependent on others or didn’t engage at all. I had to give up on my passion for music. I couldn’t connect with my family in the way they needed me. I had to rely on my pharmacy colleagues to communicate with patients in-person or over the phone. Now, I can provide 100% of the care my patients need in my community of Langley, and I can be the father, son, and friend I’ve always wanted to be.
I am eternally grateful to all the staff at St. Paul’s Rotary Hearing Clinic. Their knowledge, professionalism, skill, and simple human caring and compassion is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten by me or my family.
I am also grateful to all of the donors – like you – who support St. Paul’s Foundation. Without your gifts, much of the work done at St. Paul’s Hospital wouldn’t be possible. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. You have helped give me the invaluable gift of hearing.
Grateful patient and father
Donations to St. Paul’s Foundation will help to ensure other patients like Azim continue to receive the care they need, when they need it most. Give now.