Tanya Froom, a San Marcos mother of two who lost full hearing nearly a decade ago, is the winner of the eighth annual Palomar Health “Hear for the Holidays” essay contest, a program that rewards inspirational stories.
Froom, 40, was recently fitted with a pair of free top-of-the-line Oticon Intiga 10 digital hearing aids and given a lifetime of visits and care from Palomar Health Chief Audiologist, and “Hear for the Holidays” founder, Dr. David M. Illich, Au.D.
“Thank you,” an emotional Froom told the Palomar Health Board of Directors at its Dec. 10 meeting in Escondido. “There are not enough words to say that,” she said.
Froom also recounted one of her most precious memories after regaining full hearing. Her 10-year-old son Brian was so happy when she came home that day. He hid and ran from room to room, asking her if she could hear him. She said yes. “I love you,” he said.
Memories like that had eluded Froom since she lost a large part of her hearing after a life-threatening bout with meningitis in 2004. She struggled to hear clearly with the hearing aids she had been using as they were no longer a good fit and were in bad need of repair. But the single parent, who lost her job a few years ago, lacked insurance to help pay for new ones.
A panel of judges, including physicians, reviewed “Hear for the Holidays” entries and based its selection on the quality of the essay, the applicant’s hearing loss, and financial need.
Froom’s winning essay detailed her daily struggles: “Deciphering speech, hearing with background noise, conversations on the telephone, and sounds beyond 10 feet are the most difficult,” she wrote.
While she enjoys working with people and would like to get a job in customer service, she did not think that was possible when she could not hear clearly.
In her essay, she said: “I rely on email, text messaging, amplified phones, TTY, and transcribed voicemail for communications. This is difficult in the workplace since most jobs require some time on the telephone or direct interaction with customers.”
What she missed the most was holding conversations with her sons Brian and Riley, 14, the kind that build long happy memories of being a parent. “I want to hear my children call me at night and I want to hear them giggling in the backseat,” she said in her essay.
Hearing loss affects millions of Americans each year. The American Speech Language Association says about 95 percent of those suffering from hearing loss could be helped with the use of hearing aids.
Dr. Illich created “Hear for the Holidays” in 2005. He said it was his way to give back after seeing so many caring people help his Mississippi family recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
“There is nothing at all more precious and important than to be able to hear your family and friends,” he said.
About Palomar Health
Palomar Health is the largest public health-care district by area in California and the most comprehensive health care delivery system in northern San Diego County. It is governed by a publicly-elected board of directors, and its primary service area in Inland North San Diego County has more than 500,000 residents.
A Magnet® recognized health care system, Palomar Health has several facilities, including hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Escondido and Poway as well as Palomar Health expresscare health centers in Escondido, Rancho Penasquitos and San Elijo Hills in San Marcos in North San Diego County and Temecula in Riverside County.
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