BNA Patients in Their Own Words

For over 30 years, Bloomington Normal Audiology has been one of the community’s strongest advocates for hearing education. Of the three common “Neck-up Check-ups” you can receive (eyes, teeth, and ears), your hearing is often the least understood and therefore most neglected. BNA, therefore, has a long tradition of filling that knowledge gap by raising awareness through various educational methods designed to make our friends and neighbors in Bloomington-Normal better and smarter stewards of their hearing.

Recently, we sat down with some of our patients for a video shoot, and what was envisioned as a simple testimonial series quickly became much more. As our patients began sharing their personal hearing journeys, it became clear that their engaging, often emotional, stories represented the next step in our educational outreach. Because while hearing from our five Doctors is beneficial (and we’ll certainly continue pursuing those methods), it’s often more powerful and relatable to hear directly from the patients themselves, in their own words.

Each episode of Hear My Story gives you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to live with hearing challenges, but more importantly, serves as a great source of encouragement and motivation to take the next step in your own hearing journey. Watch the latest stories below, and then reach out to schedule your appointment at BNA.

See the most recent episodes below:

Paul Brandt

Not every hearing aid story progresses perfectly forward in a straight line of success. Some patients experience obstacles and setbacks that can take awhile to overcome. At the prompting of his wife around 10 years ago, Paul Brandt somewhat hesitantly agreed to have his hearing tested. He came to BNA, and while his relationship with Dr. Rock was great, the hearing aid equipment itself couldn’t quite meet his needs at the time. After a lot of back-and-forth, Paul finally gave up. He stopped wearing hearing aids entirely, deciding he’d rather struggle to hear than deal with the frustrations of equipment. But of course, during the ensuing 10-year gap, his hearing continued to degrade, and the promptings of his wife increased. Paul humbly and courageously decided to give it another shot, and returned to BNA in 2023 to find that the landscape had vastly improved. The technology had caught-up, and now the new series of hearing devices could pair with his TV, his phone, and allow him to set his ringtones and radio stations to his own custom volumes. Paul’s is a story of waiting on technological improvements with patience and endurance, but it’s also a story of commitment to never give up on your hearing, even when the first experience was challenging, and even if it takes awhile.

Paul is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Arica Rock, and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

 

 

Pat Grogg

Pat Grogg will dramatically readjust your expectations about what 80 looks (and acts) like. From teaching, to church involvement, to leadership roles on a handful of boards, she’s firing on all cylinders…and wants to be for years to come. Pat’s story, then, is one of proactivity. She didn’t want to wait until she “needed” hearing aids; rather, she knew BNA was a tremendous local resource, and she took steps to preserve her hearing before it became a critical issue. But as Pat explains, even she didn’t realize how much she had already been missing.

Pat is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

 

Ira Bryant

In general, many people are hesitant about the idea of needing hearing aids. And when previous doctors have already told you that your hearing situation can only be improved with surgery, the skepticism increases. Now throw in a strong, no-nonsense personality and a challenging environment during COVID, and you’ve got the ingredients for a pretty thick suit of armor! Such were the circumstances under which we met Ira Bryant. It’s hard to imagine a patient at a more unconvinced starting point than Ira was…which is what makes his transformation even more amazing. You might say this is an episode with a dramatic character arc. It even gets unexpectedly emotional, so have your tissues ready. And Ira’s endearingly frank, plain-spoken personality makes it easy to watch. At one point he says, “I learned that there’s always hope on the other side,” a quote which, as you’ll see, embraces multiple deep and profound meanings, making this one of the most compelling stories we’ve ever had the privilege to share.

Ira is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

 

Cele LaChance

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting person than BNA patient Cele LaChance. Her wide-reaching, 80-year story includes dual citizenship as a member of the Algonquin Nation, humble beginnings in an orphanage, followed by factory manufacturing work, civil rights activity, and important work as a mother, counselor, and teacher. Oh, and she’s also a martial artist with teal hair and tattoos. In this fascinating, compelling episode of Hear My Story, Cele (rhymes with ‘teal’) shares how she came to grips with hearing loss, the steps she took with Dr. Hanley to select hearing devices, and how her life is dramatically improved as a result. As Cele puts it, “I didn’t think I was lacking anything. I thought I was a really cool person. But now that I can hear everything, they’ve opened up a whole new decade of my life that I wouldn’t have known I was missing.”

Cele is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Sara Hanley, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

Bill McHie

In this helpful, encouraging episode of Hear My Story, BNA patient Bill McHie shares his journey of going from helping others…to needing the help himself. Bill serves as a counselor who helps people with disabilities find jobs, and as an interpreter for the deaf, he regularly spoke with clients about hearing aids, explaining how the devices would help them integrate into the workforce.

But after several key experiences, Bill reluctantly started to realize he was in that category himself. He knew it was time to take his own advice, so to speak, so one day he visited BNA and said, “Instead of being here for my clients, this time I’m here for me.”

Now a proud wearer of hearing aids himself, he not only has the head knowledge, but also the personal experience that allows him to relate to his clients in a whole new way.

Bill is a patient at Bloomington Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

Ryan & Stephanie Fuller

In this uplifting, insightful episode of Hear My Story, BNA patient Ryan Fuller and his mother Stephanie share different perspectives on how they processed and experienced Ryan’s childhood hearing loss.

As a Mom, Stephanie opens-up about her concerns and fears, and how Dr. Chalmers was able to connect with her “mom to mom,” helping her realize that this obstacle was manageable, and that the door to every opportunity would still be wide open to her son.

From Ryan’s point of view, he recalls how much fun it was to choose hearing aids in Buzz Lightyear colors as a kid, and talks about how his family, friends, teachers, coaches, and teammates have always been encouraging and supportive.

There might be no better illustration of Ryan’s success than that he plays center on the football team: the position responsible for hearing the calls and snapping the ball. For any parents wondering how a child’s hearing loss might impact their life, this inspirational story is a must-watch.

Ryan is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Stacy Chalmers, and we truly thank him and his mother Stephanie for sharing their story!

Jerry Newkirk

In this powerful, eye-opening episode of Hear My Story, BNA patient and correctional officer Jerry Newkirk candidly shares how the realities of working in a prison demand that his hearing is optimized at all times. Whether it’s being able to understand communications over notoriously muddy walkie-talkie radios or being able to detect makeshift weapons being quietly fashioned on the cellblock by individuals in custody, both Jerry’s career and, more importantly, his safety hinge on his ability to hear. This is a story you don’t want to miss.

 

Jerry is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Arica Rock, and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

Larry Cristy

In this insightful and straight-talking episode of Hear My Story, BNA patient Larry Cristy talks about how his motivation to take action came at work, when it became increasingly more challenging to hear his colleagues during meetings at Growmark.

When a co-worker who had already gotten hearing aids explained it was because he “didn’t want to be that guy” who couldn’t hear in meetings and was always asking others to repeat themselves, that sentiment resonated with Larry. He didn’t want to be “that guy” either. And now he’s not.

He understands what’s being said the first time, making it a lot easier to participate in conversations. Larry’s story is a great reminder that addressing your hearing issues not only has a positive impact on your own life, but also on the lives of others around you.

Larry is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

Watch the full story below:

Trevor Chapman

In this clear & straightforward episode of Hear My Story, BNA patient and Normal Community High School (NCHS) principal Trevor Chapman talks about how noise is a regular part of his life (especially in loud gymnasium settings). As he started to experience many of the common warning signs (not catching most of what was said during a conversation, asking people to repeat themselves, listening to the TV at a loud volume, etc), he took action and visited BNA.

Through working with Dr. Chalmers, Trevor came to understand the value of a comprehensive hearing test, how it isolates your problem spots, and how it can identify the best solution. Together, Trevor and Dr. Chalmers were able to select the hearing aids that were best fit for him. Now, given his large network as a high school principal, Trevor often finds himself in a position to answer questions about his hearing devices. As he rightly identifies, many people believe they might have an issue, but aren’t sure where to start. Principal Chapman is happy to help! Trevor’s story is a great example of how taking action when you notice a problem (instead of delaying) can both improve your quality of life faster, and put you in a position to help others.

Trevor is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Stacy Chalmers, and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

Watch the full story below:

Sylvia Allen

In this candid, relatable episode of Hear My Story, BNA patient Sylvia Allen talks about the factors that added some complexity to her decision to start wearing hearing aids. Not only was she younger, but she had also come to view being a hard-of-hearing person as part of her identity. In her own words, Sylvia shares how she navigated those potential emotional obstacles, worked with BNA to customize her devices, and reached a point where she can now choose to hear, or not hear, as she sees fit.

In addition to being fun, lively, and insightful, Sylvia’s story is also a great example of how hearing aids can simply offer you more options, opening possibilities that allow you to experience the world on your own terms.

Sylvia is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Stacy Chalmers, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

Watch the full story below:

Susan Goeckner

In this powerful, touching episode of Hear My Story, Ivy Lane Bakery owner Susan Goeckner shares how her hearing challenges began to rise to the forefront after opening the bakery. Not only did she struggle to hear conversations among the noise of the large mixers, but she found herself exerting more effort simply to hear and understand customer orders. The real trigger, however, came when she learned of the connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s.

After closely observing a family member’s experience with that disease, Susan describes how she was motivated to take her cognitive health into her own hands, keeping her brain engaged and active by addressing her hearing. Not every health issue is in your control, but often, your hearing struggles can be. Susan’s story is a great example of proactively “doing what you can” to improve your quality of life.

Susan is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

Watch the full story below:

Greg Ekdale

In this insightful, personable episode of Hear My Story, Greg Ekdale talks about how he gradually noticed himself displaying the common warning signs of hearing loss, and how a former U.S. President motivated him to finally take action. After having initial experiences in team-based, academic audiology settings, he developed a preference for a more personal level of care where he could form a relationship with a primary provider and work with the same doctor each time.

After being impressed with the way BNA presented itself to the community, Greg made an appointment and was able to build that rapport with Dr. Hanley. Greg’s story is a great picture of the genuine interest BNA strives to take with each patient, and how prioritizing a dedicated, personalized relationship with an audiologist is critical to helping you navigate the experience of hearing loss.

Greg is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Sara Hanley, and we truly thank him for his kind words!

Watch the full story below:

Kathy McIntyre

In this powerful episode of Hear My Story, Kathy McIntyre opens up about the long-term emotional toll she experienced in work and social settings because of an inability to focus on a conversation or respond quickly. Throughout most of her life, she didn’t realize that these struggles could have been connected to a potential hearing issue. In fact, she compellingly describes how her hesitancy to visit BNA stemmed from the certainty it would provide. Meaning, if she didn’t have a hearing problem, it would confirm her fears that her challenges were rooted in something deeper.

But after summoning the courage to make an appointment, she learned that there was a hearing issue, and most importantly, that BNA could help. After getting her hearing devices, in addition to hearing voices, sounds, and songs like never before, she also realized how her new confidence was reshaping her personality. Maybe she wasn’t the reserved, introvert she always thought she was… Kathy’s story is deeply moving and motivational, and we hope it encourages you to take the next step.

Kathy is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

Watch the full story below:

Kristi Wykes

In this engaging & honest episode of Hear My Story, Kristi Wykes explains how she delayed taking action because 1) she thought she was too young, and 2) didn’t realize just how bad it really was. But when mask-wearing during the pandemic removed her ability to read lips, she realized how much she had been relying on lip-reading to compensate for her hearing challenges. Now, she’s hearing wonderful sounds she never knew existed, and characterizes life before-and-after hearing aids as a transition from dull to vibrant. She can also listen more, which, in her words, helps her be a better teacher, and a better friend. We hope Kristi’s clear, candid style encourages you to take the next step.

Kristi is a patient at the Pontiac, IL office of Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!
Watch the full story below:

Kitty Belsly

In this honest and insightful episode of Hear My Story, Kitty Belsly recalls the challenges posed by needing hearing devices at such a young age (her early 20’s). But once she overcame initial obstacles like cost and embarrassment, and took the time to find the device that worked best for her situation, her quality of life dramatically improved. Today, she’s an advocate for hearing devices, encouraging others to overcome their own obstacles and take action. We hope Kitty’s fun, energetic, frank style encourages you to take the next step.

Kitty is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

Watch the full story below:

Debi Post

In this fun and candid episode of Hear My Story, Debi Post shares important insight on why it can take time to accept you need hearing devices. In Debi’s case, she often chalked it up to a noisy environment, or other people not speaking clearly, but she gradually came to realize “it was her.” She describes the “light bulb” moment when she tried on a pair of her uncle’s hearing aids. Even on devices that weren’t customized for her, she recalls still being able to hear exponentially better. And once she knew what she was missing, there was no turning back. We hope Debi’s relatable, friendly style encourages you to take the next step.

Debi is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Arica Rock, and we truly thank her for sharing her story!

Watch the full story below:

Marshall Davis

In this warm and honest episode of Hear My Story, Marshall Davis describes coming to grips with the reality that he was missing a lot of what people were saying. He explains his reasons for delay, how Dr. Chalmers helped him overcome that hesitation, and how hearing devices have helped him be a better participant in conversations, both personally and professionally. We hope Marshall’s easy-going, friendly style is the approach that encourages you to take the next step.

Marshall is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Stacy Chalmers, and we truly thank him for sharing his story!

Watch the full story below:

Kiersten Miner

In this entertaining and insightful episode of Hear My Story, Kiersten Miner shares her experience dealing with, and overcoming, hearing challenges at a young age. Patients often mention all the new sounds they discover upon receiving their first hearing devices, but Kiersten’s list of examples is among the best. Through her story, you’ll gain a new appreciation for all the simple (and sometimes embarrassing!) sounds that often get taken for granted. Kiersten’s fun, engaging, always-smiling style should be all the encouragement you need to take the next step.

Kiersten is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank her for candidly sharing her story!

Watch the full story below:

Steve Peterson

In this laid-back and comically entertaining episode of Hear My Story, Steve Peterson discusses how natural aging plus a career in construction led to increased hearing difficulties. As is commonly the case, a loved one prompted him to see a doctor, and he chose the audiologists at BNA. An engaging storyteller, Steve shares his experience rediscovering certain sounds, and offers strong advice about seeing a doctor instead of going to the “lumberyard.” His frank style and perspective should resonate with anyone who may be hesitating to take the next step.

Steve is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Arica Rock, and we truly thank him for his kind words…and for constantly making us all laugh during the shoot!

Watch the full story below:

Larry & Judy Mays

In this easy-going, relatable, yet convicting episode of Hear My Story, Larry and Judy Mays share what it was like to realize they weren’t hearing certain sounds as well anymore. This initial self-suspicion is common, but as Larry describes, he was willing to tolerate it, thinking it wasn’t that bad. His two sons, however, were noticing it too, and their ongoing “loving encouragement” eventually prompted him to take action. Judy had the same suspicions about her own hearing, and once Larry took the first step, they teamed-up to tackle their hearing issues together. The Mays’ laid back, warm, comforting style will set you at ease, and their story highlights the importance of listening to the perspective of others when it comes to your hearing reality.

Larry and Judy are patients at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Arica Rock, and we truly thank them for sharing their hearing journey in such a positive way!

Watch the full story below:

Gina Barnhart

In this emotionally uplifting and often surprising episode of Hear My Story, Gina Barnhart speaks candidly about struggling to accept her need for hearing devices at a younger-than-expected age. But as the months and years went on, she explains how she came to embrace them as a source of confidence and empowerment that restored her quality of life. Gina’s optimistic, smiling, energetic style will win you over, and her story highlights how hearing technology can improve your life no matter how old you are.

Gina is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Arica Rock, and we truly thank her for sharing her hearing journey in such a positive way!

Watch the full story below:

Robert Handley

In this insightfully wide-ranging episode of Hear My Story, Robert Handley makes a thorough and extremely articulate case for the value of hearing devices. From his childhood experiences to his time in the Army, Mr. Handley discusses the varying challenges he faced with inadequate hearing technology during its early days, how he overcame those challenges, and then how his quality of life dramatically improved once BNA helped him find a set of modern devices that restored what he had been missing. With an approachable yet matter-of-fact style that’s both compelling and persuasive, Robert’s story is a motivational call to end the delay and rejoin the conversation.

Mr. Handley is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we truly thank him for sharing his hearing journey in such a clear and transparent way.

Watch the full story below:

Mona Lohnes

In this episode of Hear My Story, Mona Lohnes explains that she ultimately became a patient through her husband George. For many years, while Dr. McKee worked with George on his hearing situation, Mona would regularly attend. She developed a familiarity with BNA during those office visits, and came to feel great about the service and environment…but then struggled to accept that she needed hearing devices herself.

In her story, she shares how she overcame that hesitation, as well as her secret for staying young…because we’re sure you’ll agree that she does not strike you as being 91 years old!

Mona is a patient at Bloomington-Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we thank her for sharing her hearing journey in such a clear, powerful way.

Watch the full story below:

Bruce Boeck

In the series premiere of BNA’s new educational video series, Hear My Story, Bruce Boeck shares his experience over a lifetime of mechanized hearing, how it impacts his profession as a therapist and counselor, and offers advice to anyone hesitating to take the first step toward addressing a hearing issue.

In the video, Bruce says, “Being able to hear is something most people take so for granted. For example, there was a point, I wanna say I think it was last Fall. And I was looking out the window listening to the crickets. Just nice background noise. I was getting ready for bed and I was looking out the window. Just savoring the sound. And I took my aids off… and the crickets were gone. It’s such a simple sound. We take it for granted.”

Bruce is a patient at Bloomington Normal Audiology working with Dr. Natalie McKee, and we thank him for sharing his hearing journey in such a captivating, insightful way.

Watch the full story below: