We’ve all had disasters at work, however few may have suffered something as unhealthy because the one endured by BBC newsreader Lewis Vaughan Jones.
The 41-year-old often fronts the 5pm and 10pm bulletins – watched by no less than 5 million folks – however one night in 2018, whereas presenting the newspaper overview with a panel of friends, he misplaced his listening to completely.
Many viewers is not going to have identified that Lewis was virtually fully deaf and on the time relied on a listening to assist. And on the night time in query, it all of a sudden failed.
‘For 20 minutes I could not hear a single phrase,’ the father-of-one advised The Mail on Sunday.
‘I managed to muddle by with out anybody noticing. Thankfully I’m fairly expert at lip-reading, however it was scary.’
IN PLAIN SIGHT: Lewis Vaughan Jones presenting BBC information together with his white listening to assist implant clearly seen
Lewis together with his spouse, former CNN newsreader Hannah Vaughan Jones
Now he has revealed the astonishing challenges he faces, and why he fears his broadcasting days could also be restricted.
Lewis is certainly one of 12 million Britons with some type of listening to loss, however what makes the Welshman’s story so surprising is how shortly it occurred to him.
In the winter of 2017, aged 37, he got here down with a chilly.
‘I did not even take a time off work,’ he says. ‘I simply felt a bit bunged up. But I seen the listening to in my left ear was fully worn out. I could not hear my spouse discuss if she was standing on my left.
‘I believed this could go away, however after a couple of days it did not and I began to get involved.’
Lewis visited his GP, and a month later noticed a specialist who gave him a brutal prognosis. ‘He took one look and stated, “Yep, your listening to is completely gone. We cannot inform what triggered it, however it most likely won’t ever return.” ‘
Devastatingly, they found issues together with his proper ear, too.
Subsequent investigations steered it was most likely because of a foul case of glue ear – a typical childhood situation during which the ear canal fills with fluid – which Lewis suffered when he was 5.
‘The tissue of my proper eardrum was wafer-thin and had began to break down, though I may nonetheless hear considerably by it,’ he says.
‘I simply assumed medical science had some reply for listening to loss, however there wasn’t one.’
Doctors say that anybody who suffers sudden listening to loss ought to go on to A&E. Steroid medication, given inside seven days, can forestall everlasting injury. Lewis was too late for this selection, so he ended up with a listening to assist.
In the winter of 2017, aged 37, Lewis got here down with a chilly. ‘I did not even take a time off work,’ he says. ‘I simply felt a bit bunged up. But I seen the listening to in my left ear was fully worn out. I could not hear my spouse discuss if she was standing on my left.’ Pictured: Lewis with spouse Hannah
Lewis, who’s married to former CNN newsreader Hannah Vaughan Jones, says his ideas instantly turned to his profession. ‘I would like two ears to learn the information – my proper to hearken to producers by an earpiece, and the left to listen to the friends within the studio. I do know my first concern ought to have been for my household, however my response was, “God, I’m going to lose my job.” ‘
Lewis hails the BBC’s efforts to accommodate his issues.
‘We got here up with a system the place the sound from the studio would get picked up by a microphone and performed into the earpiece in my proper ear. It wasn’t excellent – it was a cacophony of voices in a single ear talking suddenly – however it made an enormous distinction.’
It additionally meant that Lewis must warn studio friends that he could not hear them. ‘The studio sound would not get beamed into my earpiece till the published began,’ he says, ‘so if anybody was sitting with me earlier than we went dwell, I’d say, “I’m positive you are fascinating and great, however I am unable to hear a phrase you are saying.” ‘
The lack of Lewis’s listening to was made worse by one other symptom – a relentless ringing in his ears, generally known as tinnitus. ‘I had this unending whining sound in my ears,’ he says. ‘I could not shut it out. I had by no means felt so alone.’
After his journey to the physician, Lewis was advised he would wish surgical procedure to suit a everlasting listening to implant. The pandemic delayed the operation, however final February he had a bone-anchored listening to assist fitted on the left facet of his head. It concerned implanting a small gadget contained in the cranium which transmits sound vibrations to the inside ear, the place they’re changed into sounds the mind can perceive.
Lewis says: ‘I used to be in hospital for under a day. There was barely any ache and all I used to be left with was a bump behind my ear.’
A month later he had a white plastic cowl fitted – clearly seen on TV – containing a microphone that picks up sound and sends it to the implant. Then they switched on the gadget. He says: ‘It was night time and day. For the primary time in an extended whereas, I may hear the murmuring of dialog round me.
‘The weirdest half was strolling out of the physician’s workplace. I may hear my footsteps they usually sounded so loud that I apologised to folks close by for strolling too loudly.’
Lewis hails the BBC’s efforts to accommodate his issues. ‘We got here up with a system the place the sound from the studio would get picked up by a microphone and performed into the earpiece in my proper ear. It wasn’t excellent – it was a cacophony of voices in a single ear talking suddenly – however it made an enormous distinction’
At work Lewis nonetheless will depend on his proper ear – the studio sound is directed into his earpiece. He provides: ‘Before I obtained the implant, I could not hear what was happening round me. It was actually isolating and you are feeling silly as a result of you possibly can’t sustain with the dialog. Now I’m extra conscious of what is being stated.’
But life is way from excellent. ‘The implant works properly provided that you are up shut with somebody, and you may’t have an excessive amount of background noise. So noisy pubs and different loud occasions are gone from my life now.’
The listening to in his proper ear can be getting worse, and more likely to finally depart him fully deaf.
‘If it retains getting worse, I’ll want an implant on my proper ear too,’ he says. ‘It may not be sufficient to permit me to maintain working in years and even months to return.’
Experts say circumstances like Lewis’s are on the rise.
The Royal National Institute for Deaf People estimates the variety of UK adults with listening to loss will rise to 14.2 million by 2035. This is partly pushed by an ageing inhabitants, however in keeping with Lidia Best of the National Association Of Deafened People, extra younger adults are shedding their listening to.
‘This is being pushed largely by folks listening to music at unsafe ranges on headphones,’ she says.
Lewis says he has had many messages from mother and father of deaf youngsters who’ve seen him on tv.
‘They are all so excited to see somebody like them presenting the information,’ he says.
‘That’s the explanation the implant I’ve is white – I wished it to face out, to verify folks with listening to aids know they don’t seem to be alone.’
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