Monique Hammond has a story she wants you to hear.
The Minnesotan and former Rotarian, speaking virtually to PPRC Nov. 2, shared her "unexpected journey" of sudden hearing loss suffered by the former pharmacist.
"Life changed," she succinctly spoke from her Minneapolis home. She was at a church fundraiser when a folk band's music abruptly reverberated. The loss of hearing occurred in her left ear. Her clear message (which she's delivered 200 times and often to Rotarians): "It can happen if the conditions are right...It totally affected my life and irreversibly so."
Monique's new world of hearing loss came in 2005 when--in a matter for four hours--she went totally deaf in one ear. And the setback propelled her on a mission--to get people to listen about hearing preservation.
She warned against loud and problematic spaces like sports bars, large indoor events and music concerts. Though for many, hearing loss comes with aging, awareness of what can happen to inner ear functions should begin much earlier in life, she believes.
Alternating her presentation between specific issues like tinnitus (ringing ear) and how cochlea cells operate, Monique brought her own experiences to her listeners. One result for her was social isolation.
"It's very difficult when you feel you are left out." She also dealt with disbelief, anger and grief. One in five of people age 12 and over have hearing challenges--a number which Monique called a "silent epidemic," one that "affects the quality of life at any age."
Her mission, in her words: "Keep people of all ages hearing better and longer." With that focus, she has written a book, "An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss." Pearl Rotarians can visit her website at moniquehammond.com.