At three years old, Michael contracted meningitis. Consequently, his health became critical and he needed immediate treatment. Part of the treatment included ototoxic medicine. Ototoxic medicine can have significant affects to the way the inner ear functions. It can lead to hearing and balance issues, which is what happened to him.
After recovering from meningitis, Michael’s parents noticed he was not hearing as well anymore. They took him to get his hearing tested and sure enough, he was diagnosed with hearing loss and immediately fitted with hearing aids.
Fast forward to today, and Michael is now an audiologist for Phonak, a hearing aid manufacturer based in Switzerland.
Admiring the work of his pediatric audiologist, Michael was inspired to pursue a study program in audiology and acoustics.
Growing up, his audiologist engaged with him, took the time to explain and answer questions, and provided tips and tricks to overcome listening challenges. Working with his audiologist on a regularly basis and also doing a student internship, shaped the future path of pursuing audiology.
After Michael completed his study program, he worked as an audiologist in a hospital. He performed cochlear implant fittings, newborn screenings, and intraoperative monitoring during surgical procedures to monitor a patient’s hearing system.
After this experience, Michael became a lecturer at the Academy of Hearing Acoustics in Lübeck, Germany. There he taught best practices on audiometry, fitting hearing aids, and verifying features and functions.
Teaching in a large classroom had its own listening challenges, especially when speaking with students seated in the back of the classroom. To overcome these challenges, Michael informed the students, on the first day of class, that he wears hearing aids. This allowed the students to have a better understanding when Michael asked for a question to be repeated or for the class to be quieter.
In 2019, Michael was ready for a career change. He found an old interview he did in 2012 with a German Cochlear Implant magazine. In this interview, Michael was asked what his future plans were.
Michael’s response was, working in either the car industry or the hearing aid industry. Reading this interview, Michael was inspired to apply for a job with Phonak. He desired to be more connected with the development of hearing aids.
Michael is now a product audiologist at Phonak. His role is diverse, but a significant part is creating training materials. He also supports Phonak colleagues worldwide when new solutions are launched into the market. Michael works closely with the research and development team on various audiological topics and how they can result in client benefits.
For Michael, one of the unique things about having hearing loss, wearing hearing aids, and working for a hearing solutions company, is being involved in preliminary hearing aid testing.
“It is exciting to have the ability to listen to new hearing aid settings and provide direct feedback,” he says.
In addition, Michael says he is delighted to see many colleagues with hearing loss who also work for Phonak.
“They are all working together with the same goal,” he says. “To be a part of providing hearing solutions that can help improve clients’ quality of life, just as the technology has done for them.”
Michael is married and has a three year old son. His spouse and his son have normal hearing. The family adapted to improve communicating with each other. For example, they make sure to be in the same room when they converse.
Michael says his son is also learning to recognize when his dad needs repetition and takes initiative to repeat himself. He says he is proud to see his son already adapting and understanding what hearing loss means.
Michael is also learning to use Phonak Roger technology to see how it can be useful when he goes for a family bike ride. When bike riding, Michael’s son is sitting behind him in a bike trailer. He says he has a challenging time hearing his son and relies on his spouse.
When the weather allows for biking season to begin again, he says he looks forward to using a Roger microphone to better hear his son.
Michael has found his tips and tricks in order to adapt to the current situation while still being able to effectively communicate with others.
Overall, he says he is happy to contribute his real world experiences with hearing loss into the development of hearing solutions.