Former Secretary Of US Navy Opens Up About His Hearing Loss Journey
What happens when hearing loss happens to someone who is used to helping other people? How does a person who is strong-willed and able to overcome so many of life’s other challenges cope with hearing loss?
Luckily, we were able to ask a real-life hero, Bill Middendorf ourselves, as he has been a patient at Duncan Hearing Healthcare and has entrusted us to help with his hearing loss. Mr Middendorf served in the US Navy in Pacific in World War II and then became Secretary of the U.S. Navy during the 1970’s.
‘They were professional but in a nice way’ – Lance’s story
Lance Garth began to struggle with his hearing while working as a judge in courts across Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.
“When you’re in a courtroom, your mind is working on listening to everyone speak, what the laws are, and how to dispense justice as best you can,” he explains.
“I was concentrating on the second parts and didn’t realize that I wasn’t hearing the speakers as well as I should.”
He decided to seek professional help after a court officer who regularly transported him around the state mentioned that he should get his ears examined.
“He kind of convinced me to do it,” Lance says. “Based on my relationship with him, and that he was just a good person and very supportive of me, I looked into a possible hearing loss issue.”
Lance believes that his condition may have been passed down from his father. He worked in mills both in Britain and Massachusetts, and the loud machinery may have exacerbated an underlying genetic issue, resulting in a hearing loss.
He first went to a local clinic for treatment. But after that closed down, someone told him to try Duncan Hearing Healthcare instead. Right away, he was impressed with the staff’s temperament and work ethic.
“The best way I can describe them is that they were very professional but in a very nice way,” he says.
“I didn’t know what type of hearing aid I was going to get involved with, and when I went to Duncan Hearing Healthcare, they were just very, very nice.”
After a week of testing out different products with his doctor of audiology, Lance settled on a hearing aid that suited him. The features, in particular, met and exceeded his requirements.
“I don’t have to change the batteries with these, they just recharge themselves every night when I put them in a little canister,” he says. “I can also connect them to my cell phone via Bluetooth – it’s really good.”
What would he say to someone who was concerned about a hearing loss now? “It’s not the end of the world. You’ve just got to get something that allows you to maintain your position in the world and hear things a lot better than you are!” he says.
‘It’s nice to hear everything’ – Allan’s story
Like so many people with a hearing loss, Allan was unaware that he had an issue for several years. “It happened so gradually that I really didn’t notice it,” he said.
When Allan finally recognized that he had a problem, he visited a major hearing care chain but was shocked at the prices and decided it wasn’t worth the investment.
Then one day, someone recommended that he contact Duncan Hearing Healthcare. Impressively,he found that the clinic accepted his insurance plan,meaning thatthe investment needed for his treatment and care would be greatly reduced.
His first contact with the team assured him that he’d made the right choice. “They were very, very nice, but also, the cost was sensible,” he says.
A few days later, he had his first appointment with his specialist, Jacqueline Stagg.
“Jacqueline was really nice and knowledgeable,” he says. “I had a sense that she knew what she was doing, and she’s very patient. She understood that you’ve got to go slow with the old hippies. So it was great!”
Since receiving his new hearing aids, his social life has changed for the better.
“I do a fair amount of singing in church and do a lot of solo work,” Allan explains. “A hearing loss affects how you hear music considerably. So as someone who enjoys music – it’s a large part of my life – it’s nice to hear everything.”
Despite the pandemic, Allan has kept in regular contact with the team at Duncan Hearing Healthcare. In particular, he’s been impressed with their Curbside Service.
“When I have an appointment, I pull up in the parking lot, and they come out to my car window. Then I just hand them my hearing aids, and they clean and check them… In some ways, it’s more convenient than walking into the office.”
‘Hearing aids make a huge difference’ – Sarah’s story
For years, Sarah had been underwhelmed by the hearing healthcare providers that she’d tried in her local area.
“I used a small independent hearing aid company, but I wasn’t happy with them,” she says. “Then I tried one of the national places, but every time I went there, it was someone new, and my hearing was just getting worse.”
The technology that the specialists prescribed her didn’t offer many benefits, leading Sarah to become frustrated. She even considered learning sign language or asking others to just speak up near her “good ear.”
But one day, someone told her about Duncan Hearing Healthcare. During her initial visit, Sarah noticed adifference compared to theother clinics.
“It struck me, initially, at just how friendly everybody was and welcoming,” she says. “Jackie Stagg [Sarah’s specialist] took the time to listen to me. By that time, I was well into my hearing aid treatment process and was ready to give up on it.”
The new hearing aids made a huge difference. Not only did they let Sarah freely interact with others and pursue her career, but the array of features also improved her quality of life.
“The ones I have now have Bluetooth,” says Sarah. “So phone and Zoom calls are much easier.”
In addition, Duncan Hearing Healthcare’s personal servicehas made a big difference. During the pandemic, Sarah spent six months overseas, and when she recognized a fault with her devices, Jackie Stagg was ready to step in and help.
“As soon as I got into the country, she made arrangements to take the hearing aids,” Sarah says. “She gave me hearing aids to borrow while they tried to resolve the problem.”
“By the time I came out of quarantine, I had new hearing aids. It was seamless.”
What would Sarah advise someone who has a hearing concern? “Don’t ignore it,” she urges.“I didn’t realize how many things I was giving up on until I got my hearing aids from Duncan Hearing Healthcare. Then I realized, ‘Oh my gosh! These make a huge difference.’”
‘I wasn’t ready for hearing aids’ – Marilyn’s story
Back in her forties, Marilyn noticed a change in her hearing. She was having to turn the volume up on everything, from her television to her radio, to get a sense of what people were saying.
As her hearing worsened, she reluctantly decided to seek help from a specialist. “I went to an audiologist in Fall River, and she said it wasn’t good,” she remembers. “But I wasn’t ready to wear hearing aids. I just didn’t want to hear it, literally!”
Denial is very common among those in the early stages of a hearing loss. Many people, just like Marilyn, feel there is a stigma attached to accepting treatment. They then wait years before they feel ready to look for a great solution.
Marilyn found the courage to act in her fifties. “It finally got to a point where I couldn’t function, and I decided it was time to do something,” she says.
The doctor who she originally spoke to recommended Nancy Duncan as a trusted audiologist within the community, and this gave Marilyn the confidence to get in touch.
“I remember the doctor saying, ‘She will never give you anything you do not need,’” she says. “That convinced me.”
Her first appointment at Duncan Hearing Healthcare made her believe that this was the right decision. Nancy didn’t fit her with hearing technology immediately, but instead, she asked her to trial different devices until she found the correct one.
This careful process led to a breakthrough. “I was looking through some literature, and Nancy was speaking to me, and all of a sudden it hit me that I could hear what she was saying, and I was not watching her face,” Marilyn says. “That was so overwhelming, I can’t tell you.”
Since that moment, Marilyn has worn her hearing aids wherever she goes. “It’s a whole new world when you can’t hear and get hearing aids. It opens up so many things to you,” she says.
Twenty years on from her initial appointment at Duncan Hearing Healthcare, what are her feelings now toward Nancy and her team? “She’s very dear to me because she’s the person who got me to that next step,” Marilyn says. “She’s also great and ethical – that’s the truth!”
“I rediscovered sounds that I thought were gone for good” – Barry’s story
Many people witness a hearing loss gradually as they age. But there are others that are born with a condition. Broadcaster Barry Richard was one of these people.
While an infant hearing screening usually picks up early signs of hearing problems, Barry’s issues went unnoticed during his childhood. As a result, he experienced several challenges.
“My teachers treated me as though I had a discipline problem – not paying attention or being unfocused,” he says. “They would move me to the front of the class.”
Barry’s problems continued well into adulthood. It wasn’t that he didn’t notice his hearing was worsening, he just didn’t think that he required professional attention.
A chance conversation with Dr. Nancy Duncan, the owner of Duncan Hearing Healthcare, changed his views completely. She had joined the broadcast team at the radio station where he was working, and during their chats, she told him about the importance of hearing treatments.
“You could say that she recruited me,” Barry admits. “I was reluctant at first, but she was persistent, and I’m grateful that she was.”
When he first went to the office for a hearing test, he was impressed by the team’s manner.
“Being around a medical professional can be intimidating for someone with a hearing loss because you want to be able to hear and understand everything that is being said,” he explains.
“But Dr. Duncan was patient, confident, and reassuring in the way she approached her work… The staff at Duncan Hearing Healthcare is also professional, friendly, and accommodating.”
Barry’s world has changed immensely since getting the right treatment. And the features on his current hearing aids have given him a huge number of amazing possibilities.
“I never have to struggle with telephones, as my calls go directly through my hearing aids,” he says. “I can also listen to the television and music at normal levels.”
“But most importantly, I have rediscovered sounds that I thought were gone for good – birds, crickets, the wind… Certain sounds go away, and you don’t realize that they have.”
Barry’s trusted relationship with Dr. Duncan has developed over the years. An advocate for people’s welfare in Haiti, he invited her over to the country to provide hearing tests and treatments to people following a series of natural disasters.
“The hearing clinics were held mainly outdoors in blistering heat and humidity using a gas-powered generator in some of the most impoverished and earthquake-ravaged sections of the island nation,” he explains.
“She tested hundreds of poor Haitians and fitted many with no-cost hearing aids.”
Today, his message to those who have concerns about their hearing but haven’t sought help is clear. “Don’t hide in the corner because you are unable to understand what is being said. Reclaim your life!” he says.
“I highly recommend Dr. Nancy Duncan and the fabulous crew at Duncan Hearing Healthcare. They changed my life.”
‘I’m so pleased being able to hear much better again’ – Richard’s story
When I realized that I had a hearing loss, I felt that if didn’t get help to be able to hear, then one of the best parts of my life would be over. I was looking forward to my visit after reading so many wonderful reviews online. With my hearing aids, I’m so pleased being able to hear much better again. Duncan Hearing will work with you until you can hear at a good level again.
‘My hearing aids keep me safe by making me aware of sounds around me ’ – Jane’s story
My parents realized I had a hearing loss when I was 7 years old. I was curious about being able to hear things. Prior to visiting Duncan Hearing, I had done research, called ahead, and knew they provided the kind of hearing aid I wanted. The staff is very friendly. My hearing aids keep me safe by making me aware of sounds around me (cars, alarms, people calling), and they also help me to lip read by giving me the vowels sounds I cannot hear. I would tell anyone who is considering an appointment to try it! The staff will treat you well and they have the desire to help you.
Moe would advise anyone to go to Duncan Hearing Healthcare
I went to Duncan Hearing Healthcare to stop the ringing in my ear. The team is very caring and professional. My hearing is a little better now. I would advise anyone to go there.
‘I would advise anyone who is thinking about making an appointment to make the call – you won’t regret it. ’ – Laurice’s story
I started losing my hearing in my 20s, but it was very slow progress. That is why by the time I was 50, it was clear that I needed hearing aids. I am a retired acupuncturist and I especially needed to hear everything my patients were telling me. It was a bit hard to admit that I needed hearing aids at first, and I felt the stigma that I had to accept that I was getting older. But I persevered and now am very grateful that I overcame those fears.
Duncan Hearing Healthcare was the second hearing aid business I went to because I moved into the area after getting my first hearing aids at another facility. I had concerns that I may not be as happy with the results that I had with my first location, but it turned out that I was even more pleased with the results.
They were very professional and the quality of the hearing aids I received was far superior to the ones I received from my former location, for about the same price. My new hearing aids have been a game changer. It is so important to be connected to others in conversation because if you don’t have that, you with become withdrawn and disconnected to loved ones and others. They are very helpful to living a connected life.
I would advise anyone who is thinking about making an appointment to make the call – you won’t regret it. Also, when you get them [hearing aids], be patient. I have heard so many people who told me that they could not use them because they could not stand anything in their ears, or they were bothered by how loud they were.
All of this is true at first, but they have to be worn in order to have these symptoms go away, and they do go away if you wear them consistently. Don’t put them in a drawer and give up. Wear them every day and you will become as glad as I am that you did.
‘Duncan Hearing is not only a healthcare facility, but it is also a teaching resource’ – Linda’s story
Before my appointment at Duncan Hearing, my biggest concern was the permanent change in my life because of needing to wear hearing aids. I was afraid of total hearing loss, like several people I know. At my first appointment, I was very impressed by how professional and knowledgeable every staff member I met at Duncan was. So genuinely kind and they instinctively could sense my fears, concerns, doubts, and sadness about my life changes before I had expressed anything. I felt at home instantly.
I struggle with memory due to head injuries and often forget to wear my hearing aids. On those days, the tinnitus is loud and constant through the day and night. When I do wear my aids, my right ear always feels itchy or like something is sticking in it. On the plus side, the ear ringing is very low, while sounds and voices are much easier to hear and understand.
I would tell anyone to trust Duncan Hearing. I was scared about going there, having my hearing tested, and worried about what the results would be. Duncan is not only a healthcare facility, but it is also a teaching resource. I learned about different tools for people with a hearing loss, different types of hearing aids, and various ways to cope with loss of hearing. I will be forever grateful for the care, kindness, and guidance that Duncan has shown me and how much my quality of life has improved.
‘With my hearing aids, I realized how much I had been missing in my life’ – Michael’s story
I was in elementary school when I was first diagnosed with a hearing loss. I had failed a hearing test and was very confused because to me I was hearing as I always have. I didn’t have any worries before coming to Duncan Hearing because I already was using hearing devices. I was impressed with how friendly the staff were and I was under no pressure. With my hearing aids, I realized how much I had been missing in my life. I would highly recommend this facility and I have.
‘Nancy Duncan is the best!’ – Pat’s story
I had a cold and ear infection, and I had total loss of hearing for one day. It never fully returned. A chain audiologist tried to rip me off by selling me a hearing aid before I even took a hearing test. However, Duncan Hearing quickly eased my concerns when she said I needed to see an ear/nose/throat doctor before getting a device. Their prices were also much more reasonable. Everyone made me feel relaxed.
Now, with my hearing aids, I can hear the TV without having it very loud. I have an app on my phone that allows me to adjust my device for the TV. We watch a lot of British shows and it helps with the accents.
Nancy Duncan is the best! I was having device issues when her office was closed during the pandemic. She came to my house, picked up the device, repaired it, and brought it back…while maintaining social distancing!
Susan was nervous before visiting Duncan Hearing Healthcare, but says ‘if you are thinking about visiting, go, you will not be sorry!’
I didn’t really realize that I had a hearing loss until I received my hearing aids and heard what I was missing. Before my first appointment, I didn’t know what to expect and I was nervous. With my hearing aids, I can hear all the things I have missed. If you are thinking about visiting Duncan Hearing, I say go – you will not be sorry. They listen and answer your questions.
Jordan’s hearing aids help him to hear better, ‘especially in school’
In kindergarten, I failed the hearing test. They gave me a cookie, so I liked it. My hearing aids help me to hear better, especially in school.
I would tell anyone to just go and try it.
Meet Paula – Also Known as ‘The Miracle’
Not long ago, I met someone who changed my whole outlook on life and left a lasting impact on me.
Usually, as an audiologist, I’m used to it being the other way around. But after reading her story, I’m sure you’ll all feel the same.
Paula, also known as “The Miracle,” has battled stage four cancer twice, all while keeping her head held high and continuing to keep a smile on her face.
She loves to travel, especially to Europe, and finds it difficult to choose between Ireland, Portugal and Italy as her favorite.
Speaking with the locals about their culture and history and participating in their community events is the way she prefers to learn. Winters are usually spent on the beaches of Florida.
As I sat down for an interview with her, her bubbly self shone through, and it was hard to believe that she’d fought her way through 4 different types of cancers. But that’s just the beginning of her story.
Throughout most of her working career, she worked for a community health center and was solely responsible for the public relations, marketing, and fundraising.
Unfortunately, as the years went by, one of the possible long-term implications of her chemotherapy left her with very poor hearing.
As Paula began to notice the deterioration in her hearing, she found that she was missing her grandchildren speaking.
She notes, “Children often say the cutest things, or the most precious things, and I don’t want to miss anything. I have quite an inquisitive nature, so I always want to be a part of the conversation.”
It also became a common occurrence for her to ask others to repeat themselves, especially at work, where she needed to be able to hear everything that’s being said.
“I didn’t realize how many times I was saying, ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’
“It was my co-workers who noticed that I wasn’t hearing well and brought it to my attention,” Paula adds.
After this realization, she made the decision to go for a hearing test. However, this revealed another surprise.
“So, I went for a hearing test, and the otolaryngologist that I saw asked about my history and the drugs I was taking.
“She said one of them was bleomycin, which can cause hearing loss 20 to 30 years later. And it was perfect timing. The drug didn’t actually cause the hearing loss, but it was something that exacerbated it,” she explains.
It was by chance that Paula happened to know Nancy through her involvement in the Rotary Club, and she was aware of how good she was at her job.
“I knew Nancy as a fellow Rotarian, and I knew what a dedicated provider she was and how she was always so concerned about her patients.
“I needed two hearing aids, and I’m happy to say that it’s made a big difference in my life. I can’t imagine how I would be functioning without them,” she says.
At first, it can be intimidating visiting a clinic, but Paula received a warm welcome and was amazed by the service Nancy provided.
“She carefully, very carefully, selects staff members who are of the same mindset and the same personality. It’s a fun place to be.” Paula adds, “Everyone’s so personable and so accurate and so knowledgeable that’s it a pleasure to visit.”
While Paula’s life has been greatly improved by hearing aids, the next step is convincing her sister, who has bad hearing, to take the first step.
Paula reflects, “I don’t know if it’s fear. I have to talk very loudly with her and she’s missing so much! For a lot of people, it’s the feeling that it’s age-related and they’re afraid to speak up.”
Looking back on her journey with hearing, Paula has been amazed at the difference a small tool of technology can make. Not only has it allowed her to converse with friends and family easily, but she can also now enjoy all the wonderful sounds of nature.
“During a visit to Florida, I went outside on the patio one morning and found it to be strangely quiet. I suddenly realized I hadn’t put my hearing aids in. When I did, the chorus of birds singing and chirping, and the rustling of the palm trees was music to my ears!”
“There’s so many people that are missing out.”
I’m hoping that sharing my story encourages anyone who might be experiencing difficulty hearing to make an appointment with Duncan Hearing Healthcare today. Their remarkable staff and incredible technology will allow you to realize just what you’ve been missing.
‘I would really appreciate it if you would personally recognize what she did for me. She deserves all the recognition she can get’ – Pat’s Story
Nancy has been in touch and shared a lovely message from a happy patient that she would like sharing on the site and on socials. “I have always been a fan of you and Duncan Hearing. I have now become an even bigger fan of Kimberly at your Fall River office.
SHE SAVED MY HEARING!!!
My right ear has gotten progressively worse. Fortunately, I have the ReSound app and I can adjust my hearing aid to watch TV. Unfortunately, I was still having trouble hearing my husband (purposely? LOL). During my last visit, Kimberly looked in my ear and discovered that my eardrum was perforated. I actually have pictures of it.
I had a tube inserted 3 years ago by another doctor. After his practice was terminated, I transferred to Dr. Illana Feinerman in Dartmouth. The tube was coming out, so she removed it. Apparently the hole never healed. Kimberly advised me to make an appointment with Dr. Feinerman as soon as possible. She said that skin could be grafted to repair the hole.
My surgery was yesterday. I have lowered the volume on my hearing aid considerably, and I keep hearing sounds that I could never hear and have determine what they are. I have lowered the volume on the TV from 12 or 13 to 8 or 9! Would you believe I keep asking my husband to stop talking so loudly!!!
This is a miracle!
I will be going for a follow-up on April 14 for a hearing exam to see how much of an improvement I have. Dr. Feinerman hoped that my hearing would go from 70 to 40-50.
I have an appointment with Kimberly on March 31. In the meantime, I would really appreciate it if you would personally recognize what she did for me. She deserves all the recognition she can get.
‘I like how it links to my phone to be able to adjust them if need be’ – Krystal’s story
I felt scared and nervous when I realized that I might have a hearing loss. I was worried that there was nothing that would help and losing my hearing in both ears. The team at Duncan Hearing is nice, friendly, and sincere. With my hearing aids, I can hear more clearly and I like how it links to my phone to be able to adjust them if need be. Duncan Hearing is a great place to go. The people are nice, there’s no wait time usually, and they are helpful and comforting.
‘My appointment was right when lockdown ended and I was impressed with the precautions they took for my safety’ – Ronny’s story
My tinnitus gradually got worse, but I didn’t realize I had a hearing loss. I didn’t have any worries about my first visit related to testing, etc. – just COVID-related fears at the time, but they take extra precautions. My appointment was right when lockdown ended and I was impressed with the precautions they took for my safety. My hearing aids help me to deal with tinnitus and having conversations with people is much easier. If you are thinking about booking an appointment, go get a test to see where your baseline is at. My hearing has already regressed between my last two tests.
Germaine is much happier wearing hearing aids
I knew I was having some difficulty hearing, but when for the first time I could not hear my microwave beeping, it was pretty scary. Before my appointment, I was wondering about how I would do on the hearing test and if I could adapt to wearing hearing aids. I was concerned if I could even get them into my ears properly.
I felt ‘at home’ at Duncan Hearing Healthcare from my very first visit. I felt comfortable with the staff and the audiologist, and that helped to allay my fears. I’m much happier when I am wearing my hearing aids. I feel more relaxed because I can hear so much better without having to strain to hear a person speaking and missing some of their words as I had in the past.
I would tell anyone who is thinking about getting a hearing test, ‘Go For It!’ Put your fears aside because they are no longer a part of your life when you have Duncan Hearing Healthcare helping you to live a much better and happier life!!!
Elaine would recommend Duncan Hearing Healthcare
I first noticed that I have a hearing loss a few years ago. Before visiting Duncan Hearing, I was concerned about the money involved for the hearing aids and services. The team are friendly and very informative. My hearing aids help in group situations and when watching TV. I would recommend Duncan Hearing.
‘Jackie was an excellent and well informed person and I felt completely comfortable with her.’ – Janet’s story
I realized that I was ignoring the fact that I couldn’t hear. I probably wouldn’t have come to Duncan Hearing, but I heard a rave review from a friend of my daughter. Jackie was an excellent and well informed person and I felt completely comfortable with her. I can’t describe how wonderful it is to hear again and pretend I’m hearing. If you are thinking of visiting Duncan Hearing, you couldn’t find a more advanced, knowledgeable staff around.
We are making real progress, the value Kim brings is clearly superior to buying over the counter hearing aids.
I’m writing to you in regard to Kim Duclos who has become my hearing consultant since Jackie Stagg left. I would email Kim directly but I don’t have her address.
I want to let her know how much I appreciate all she is doing to help me with my hearing aids. She is patient and kind. She is resourceful and insightful. I am very happy to have her work with me.
As you know, I am a musician, composer for TV and video, producer, performer. I am trying to do all this while coping with moderate to severe hearing loss, never mind just trying to hear TV and my wife.
Kim has put up with me for several appointments now. She’s good. We are making real progress.
Feel free to post my comments. The value she brings is clearly superior to buying over the counter hearing aids.
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