While we all have had work-related disasters, very few of us will have ever experienced something as devastating as Lewis Vaughan Jones, BBC newsreader.
The 41-year-old regularly presents the 5 and 10 p.m. bulletins — watched by at least five million people — but one night in 2018, while presenting the newspaper review to a panel of guests, he completely lost his hearing.
Many viewers may not have known Lewis was almost completely deaf, and that he relied on a hearing device at the time. On the night in question, everything went wrong.
The Mail was told Sunday by the father of one child that he couldn’t hear any words for twenty minutes.
“I managed to muddle through without anyone noticing. Fortunately, I’m quite adept at lip-reading, but it was scary.”
IN PLAIN VIEW: Lewis Vaughan Jones presents BBCnews with his white hearing aid implant clearly visible
Lewis and his wife, Hannah Vaughan Jones (ex-newscaster at CNN),
Now, he has shared the amazing challenges he experiences and why he fears that his broadcast days may be short.
Lewis is one 12 million Britons living with hearing loss. What makes Lewis’s story so extraordinary is the speed at which it happened.
He caught a cold in the winter 2017 at 37 years old.
He said, “I didn’t even get a day off.” “I just felt a little trapped. But then I noticed that my hearing in my left ear was completely gone. My wife spoke to me from my left, but I couldn’t hear her.
“I thought that this would pass. But after a few days, it didn’t. I started to worry.”
Lewis visited his GP and was seen by a specialist a month later who gave him a severe diagnosis.He One look revealed that his hearing was gone. It is not possible to pinpoint the cause, but it is likely that it will never return. ‘
They also discovered that he had problems with his right ear.
The cause was determined to be a severe case o glue ear. This is a common childhood condition that causes fluid to build up in the ear canal. Lewis suffered this condition when he was just five.
“The tissue of my right eardrum was paper thin and was beginning to collapse, although I could still hear through it,” he says.
“I assumed that medical science could solve hearing loss. But it wasn’t.”
Doctors recommend that anyone suffering from sudden hearing loss go to the emergency department immediately. Steroid drugs can be administered within seven days to prevent permanent damage. Lewis was too late to have this option, so he received a hearing device.
Lewis was 37 when he caught a cold during winter 2017. He said, “I didn’t even have a day off.” “I just felt a little trapped. But then I noticed that my hearing in my left ear was completely gone. My wife was talking on my left, but I couldn’t hear her. Pictured: Lewis and Hannah
Lewis, who is married with former CNN newscaster Hannah Vaughan Jones says that his thoughts immediately turned to his job. “I need two ears to read the news: my right to listen to producers through an earpiece and the left to hear the guys in the studio. My first concern should have been my family. But my response was “God, my job is going to be lost.” ‘
Lewis praises the BBC for their efforts to solve his problems.
“We devised a system that would allow the sound from the studio to be picked up by a microphone, and played in my right ear via earphones. It wasn’t perfect – it was a cacophony of voices in one ear all speaking at once – but it made a huge difference.”
It also meant Lewis would have to warn studio guests that he couldn’t hear them. “The studio sound wouldn’t be beamed into my earpiece until the broadcast started,” he says, “so if someone was sitting next to me before we went live, I’d say, ‘I’m sure you’re interesting and great, but I don’t hear you. word of what you say.”
Lewis’s hearing loss was compounded by another symptom: a constant ringing in his ears known as tinnitus. “I had an endless whining sound in my ears,” he says. “I couldn’t shut it out. I had never felt so alone.’
After his trip to the doctor, Lewis was told he would need surgery to put in a permanent hearing implant. The pandemic delayed surgery, but last February he got a bone anchored hearing aid on the left side of his head. It involved implanting a small device in the skull that sends sound vibrations to the inner ear, where they are converted into sounds that the brain can understand.
Lewis says, “I was only in the hospital for a day. I hardly had any pain and all I was left with was a lump behind my ear.’
A month later, he had a white plastic cover fitted – clearly visible on TV – containing a microphone that picks up sound and sends it to the implant. Then they turn on the device. He says, ‘It was day and night. For the first time in a long time I heard the murmur of conversations around me.
“The weirdest thing was walking out of the doctor’s office. I could hear my footsteps and they sounded so loud that I apologized to people nearby for going too fast.”
Lewis praises the BBC’s efforts to solve his problems. ‘We came up with a system where the sound from the studio would be picked up by a microphone and played in the earphones in my right ear. It wasn’t perfect, it was noisy and there were many voices speaking simultaneously in one ear. But it made a huge impact.
At work, Lewis still relies on his right ear – the studio sound is directed into his earpiece. He adds: ‘Before After I received the implant, I couldn’t hear anything around me. It was very isolating, and it makes you feel stupid for not being in the middle of the conversation. I am now more aware what is being said.
But, life is not perfect. The implant works best if you are close to someone and can’t have too many background noises. I have stopped going to loud bars and attending other loud events.
His right ear is becoming more difficult and will eventually render him completely deaf.
“If it gets worse, I will also need an implant to my right ear,” he said. “Maybe it’s insufficient to keep me working for the next few months or years.”
Experts believe cases like Lewis’s are increasing.
According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNIDP), the UK’s population with hearing loss is expected to rise to 14.2 millions by 2035. This is partly due in part to an aging population. But according to Lidia Good, National Association Of Deafened Peoples they are losing their ears.
“This is largely caused by people listening to music through headphones at unsafe levels,” she says.
Lewis claims he has received many messages of support from parents of deaf children after he was seen on television.
He says, “They’re all so thrilled to see someone like him present the news.”
“That’s why the implant I have is white. I wanted it to stand out so hearing impaired people would know that they are not the only ones.