Nominated by: Dr. Scott Marquardt of Clarity Hearing
When Johnnie was about six-years-old, he first realized he had a hearing loss. "The teachers would place my desk in the front row so I could hear," said Johnnie. While he didn't seek treatment, Johnnie said he lived a normal, yet slightly silent, life. "I became very good at lip reading to compensate for my loss," he said. "Many times I pretended to hear others when I had no clue what was being said."
It was Johnnie's wife who suggested he see a specialist to have his hearing formally tested. "Others were noticing I had hearing impairments," said Johnnie. After his evaluations showed he did, in fact, have a significant hearing loss, Johnnie was fitted with hearing devices and hasn't looked back since. "I'm more confident and able to communicate with others (with my hearing devices). I heard birds chirping, a clap of thunder, ringing church bells…I cried I was so happy to be able to hear once again."
Then, in the 1990s, Johnnie underwent reconstruction surgery on both ears to restore 90-94% of his hearing. The operation was a success.
In 2006, Johnnie was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer. After completing 38 radiation treatments, his cancer was gone, but so was his hearing. "I found out later that (hearing loss) was a side effect of radiation," said Johnnie. He returned to wearing his hearing devices, just as he began work as a volunteer hospital chaplain. "I see some patients who have cancer and also have the privilege of talking to those who have hearing problems. I reassure them there is hope and they can make it through whatever obstacle life throws their way."
Johnnie is a HearStrong Champion because of his resilient spirit in the face of adversity and his ability to encourage others to overcome their own struggles, including hearing loss. "Many (of the people I see with hearing loss) feel comfortable with me knowing I understand the difficulty they have not hearing. I reassure them to seek help to get a hearing device so they can hear the limitless sounds around them and be able to have more confidence in themselves and communicate better with others."
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