A Resounding End to Otosclerosis
For years, Claudia Dewane made the best out of her hearing loss caused by otosclerosis, a condition in which bones that conduct sound in the ear become inflamed and covered with abnormal spongy growths. It wasn’t until her job as an associate professor at Temple University’s School of Social Work began to suffer that she started to seriously consider seeking treatment. “I couldn’t hear my students,” she says. “It was really a sad time for me because I thought I’d have to give up what I love.”
Two years ago, Dewane called Johns Hopkins and made an appointment with otologist Matthew Stewart. Topping Dewane’s list of options, Stewart says, was surgery. “Otosclerosis is one of the few types of hearing loss that we can help with surgery rather than hearing aids,” he says.
But Dewane just wasn’t ready. Over the next year, Stewart helped her explore other potential treatments, including trying out a demonstration of a bone anchored hearing aid, which improves hearing by bypassing the bones in the middle ear.
However, nothing was effective. Eventually, Dewane told Stewart that she was ready to set a date for surgery in August 2010. Because her otosclerosis was bilateral, the two agreed that the operation would be on her worst side, the right ear.
When Dewane woke, preliminary tests showed that her hearing was already better. More proof came over the next several weeks. As she showered one morning, Dewane noticed a strange noise. It was water trickling—a sound she hadn’t heard in years.
The change was so dramatic and life-changing that Dewane decided to proceed with surgery on her other ear two years later. Now, Dewane says, she’s able to continue doing the things she loves, including teaching, playing the dulcimer and chatting with her husband. “When I first met Dr. Stewart, he wanted to get to know me as a person, not just as a hearing problem,” she says. “Now I have a second lease on life.”