Connect with Brian
- Lives in: Hampshire
- Deafness cause: Deafened during World War II
- System used: Baha BP110
During a bombing raid in WWII, Brian Dowdall suffered deafness when a bomb hit the house next to his family home. But it wasn’t until many years later that he was diagnosed with perforated eardrums and severe hearing loss in both. This is the story of his journey to better hearing with a Baha implant.
My name is Brian Dowdall, and I was born on 27th Feb 1936 in Surrey. This area experienced severe bombing during the 2nd World War. One day I was alone at home with my young sister, when a bomb landed on the house next door. I watched it out of my parents’ bedroom window. I do not remember a lot after the bomb landed, my parents were very relieved that we were not hurt, but they did not realise how badly damaged my ears were. I literally went deaf that day.
Because of the intensity of bombing, my father converted our garage into an air raid shelter. We spent most nights in there during the war. In the day when I was at home I was supposed to go in whenever the siren sounded, but I did not always hear it, and in any case preferred to watch the planes fly over!
At school I would sit in the middle of the front row so I was in front of the teacher to ensure I could hear. I would only speak to people who were very close to me (including my family). My performance was very poor in French and English but very good in Latin and Maths. I could read but not hear.
After leaving school, I joined Harrods in Knightsbridge as a trainee buyer, and was there for about 18 months before being called up for 2 years National Service in the RAF. I was posted into Air Traffic Control and spent most of my time on the teleprinters in the RAF’s MET office. My hearing impairment was not a problem here as everything was written out before I typed it on the teleprinters.
It was many years after the bombing, when a doctor who was treating me for an ear infection, suggested that I take a hearing test. The results were not very encouraging. He discovered that I had less than 10% hearing in my right ear and under 50% in my left ear. Both eardums were perforated.
I started wearing hearing aids, but they were a problem because they blocked my ears, which then became infected, this meant I only wore the aids occasionally.
I attended the ear clinic at the Royal Surrey Hospital every two months for treatment and cleaning of my ears. On one occasion about 4 years ago a young intern suggested that I should consider a Baha implant. I knew nothing about a Baha or Cochlear, but the Consultant agreed to send my case notes to Mr Jonathan at Frimley Park Hospital a Baha implant Hospital.
Mr Jonathan examined my ears, and my name was put forward for the implant.
I waited about 18 months before the operation took place. I must admit I was terrified about having a hole drilled into my head. I was very worried about how painful it would be, and how long I would be away from work. It would have been nice to have seen a Baha Advocate to learn more about it. However, the operation was very successful, and 5 months later the Baha was fitted.
The Baha has made a tremendous difference to my life. I wear it all the time. The sound although different, is far clearer and crisper than with a hearing aid. I can do a lot of things that I could not do before. Most of my working life had been spent away from people. That has all changed, and now I’m responsible for Health and Safety and in constant contact with customers. There is a small draw back in that people do not know that I am deaf, because they do not see any hearing aid! So, I still need to get close to them to hear properly.
I do have to be a little careful as my processor sometimes gets knocked off in the garden and my younger grandchildren can be a little boisterous at times, so I always wear my safety line. I find the volume control is somewhat limited, and I occasionally have to wear earphones when watching TV as my wife complains if the TV volume is too loud. I sometimes try to nod off to sleep in my lounge chair but the Baha soon wakes me up, as it will ring very loudly when the processor is in contact with the back of the chair, so no snoozing for me!!
The Baha has made so much difference to my life, and I would now like to help other people understand more about implants and the operation. Hopefully my personal experience will help them overcome any fears they may have.