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Community spotlight: A bead in Graham’s ear? Not your usual hearing loss story

bead in the ear

We often hear stories about kids eating toys, and swallowing rings. For the Mulin’s family, they encountered their own experience with finding a bead in their son’s ear when he was 18 months old.

Graham Mulins, now five-years-old, was just a baby when he stuck a jewelry spacer bead into his right ear. This led his family on a unique hearing loss journey.

Recovering a bead from an ear, but losing hearing

After the incident, Graham was rushed to the pediatrician, then was sent to the Emergency Room. Eventually, he was sent to a surgeon. The surgeon had to perforate Graham’s eardrum to remove the bead. It wasn’t until later when Graham went for a checkup at a different pediatricians office, that they were recommended to see an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor (ENT) about the damage left behind by the surgery. After an appointment with the ENT, Graham was diagnosed with a mild to moderate unilateral hearing loss in his right ear.

Krista Mulin’s, Graham’s mother describes how she felt when she found out about Graham’s hearing loss.

“When I initially found out about the hearing loss, I was extremely caught off guard,” she says. “I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting what the doctor told us.  It was a random accident, that continued to get worse and worse.”

More than just a unilateral hearing loss

Graham was fit with a hearing aid as soon as his family found out, but there were more adjustments that had to be made besides getting used to a hearing aid. 

He had surgery to replace his eardrum and reconstruct his hearing bone, but they did not repair the hole in his ear or his hearing loss. He still has a hole in his ear and has to keep his right ear dry at all times. This means wearing a special earplug anytime he is in the water, including bathing. 

Staying positive

Although a sudden incident like this is tough to deal with at first, Graham and his family have managed to stay positive through this incident. Krista reflects on her process of emotions through the time. 

“I remember him saying that they had done a hearing test and Graham was going to need to see an audiologist and I was thinking, wait…what?” She says. “It is interesting because those next few hours were hard, but then from that point on, I felt tremendous peace. I constantly struggle with guilt and am very aware of my lack of knowledge with hearing loss. It is an interesting place to be with many emotions in between.”

Graham has also adjusted well to his hearing aid and it makes a big difference in his daily life. At first, he didn’t want to wear his hearing aid, but now he chooses to wear it. Krista has also heard his friend wishing for a “super ear”, just like Graham’s. 

Not only do the kids admire Graham’s hearing loss, but people in their small town do as well, creating a positive environment for Graham and his family.

“Even in our little community he is changing stereotypes and opening eyes to the different types of hearing loss,” says Krista.

Do you have a story similar to Graham’s? Let us know in the comments!

Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.