SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Would you do anything for your family? One mother from Republic made a decision that would change her daughter’s life forever.
Anna Lee Datema won an online contest for a new set of hearing aids. The family says this is a blessing because her daughter Denise Finn had been eligible for hearing aids for ten years, but she couldn’t afford it.
The last time Finn had a hearing test was around 2007; she’s 44-years-old. She was born deaf and has had 16 ear surgeries throughout her life.
“She started when she was about ten months old,” Datema said. “It’s when I realized when she was not hearing, I took her to the doctor. There was over-calcification inside the ears. They had to go in and scrape and shape and make so those bones could try to work.”
Growing up, Finn says she made sure not to sit in the back of the classroom.
“I did read lips a lot, Finn said. “I always sat up close so I could make sure I read the lips. I was the weird kid. I had to have the earplugs in all the time and wear a headband. I had people think I was ignoring them because I just kept walking.”
Datema says she has noticed Finn misunderstanding something due to her condition several times.
“There was a whole lifetime of her not understanding the right word,” Datema said. “People were looking at her very strangely like, ‘Why did you say that?”
Even with the tough times came some funny moments.
“She came up to me one day and said, ‘Mommy, I want to sing the Andy’s song,” Datema said. “I said, ‘I don’t know the Andy’s song.’ She got frustrated and said, ‘You know the Andy’s song we sing it at church.’ I’m telling her I don’t know it. But maybe a month later, we were singing the hymn in church, and she’s pulling on my arm and says, ‘Mommy, the Andy’s song.’ The lyrics were, ‘and he walks with me. And he talks with me.’ But she was hearing it as ‘Andy walks with me. Andy talks with me.'”
Fortunately, those days of miscommunication might be over. On August 31, Datema won a Springfield Hearing Center contest for a new set of hearing aids. She already has hearing aids, so she immediately thought of Finn.
“I thought, ‘If I can win this, I can give this to Denise, and she can have hearing aids,” Datema said. “I knew mine had made a difference for me, and I thought, ‘I’m going to enter this, and I’m just going to pray I win and I can give these to Denise. My prayer was answered.”
The moment Finn put them on at her appointment on September 8, she said life sounded different.
“It’s very exciting,” Finn said. “I’m hearing things that I didn’t know were there. I’m anxious to see it work. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hear people at my table and not just pick up on a whole bunch of noise at once.”
Finn says she also hopes it will help her as a single mother.
“I hope I’ll be able to be able to hear my little boy and what he wants,” Finn said. “Instead of having to say, ‘Can you talk louder?”
OzarksFirst followed up with Datema on September 13. She says Finn is loving her hearing aids, and is noticing things like cicadas in the backyard.
Tina Mottl with the Springfield Hearing Center says she encourages people to get a yearly hearing exam. It doesn’t matter how old you are.
“You can be a teenager and start getting your yearly exams,” Mottl said. “It’s always good to have a baseline to know where you are at as far as where you are hearing. So as you age and progress in your hearing loss, you can figure out when the best time is to get hearing aids. So you can maintain your hearing instead of lose it further.”
Mottl says she doesn’t charge for hearing exams.