Now Sandra, a mum of three grown-up children who lives with her retired husband, Alex, has seen a meteoric rise in her career. She has been promoted to manager at Tropic Beauty since having aids fitted by high street hearing specialist Hidden Hearing in Llandudno. In recognition of her achievements for the company, she also met Lord Sugar on stage at a Tropic Beauty conference.
Now Sandra wants to help other people in her situation by helping to smash taboos around hearing tests and urging them not to wait for as long as she did to have her hearing issues resolved effectively.
She said: “Before having these hearing aids, I was gradually losing all my confidence. I became very anxious in certain situations, all because of my hearing loss. I would talk myself out of invites and it got to the stage where I was just about coping and putting on a brave face. It was very isolating.
“Now, I want to try to inspire others who have hearing loss that think they have no hope. Even if I get to inspire one person who struggles with hearing loss and help them to regain their confidence, I will have succeeded. I want to raise awareness of hearing loss and let people know that it is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.”
Four in 10 people over the age of 50 have hearing loss in the UK, yet surprisingly some people may wait for up to seven years before getting a hearing test, according to a recent Hidden Hearing survey.
Originally from Hertfordshire, Sandra first found out about her hearing loss when she was in her late 30s. She said: “It totally knocked the wind out of my sails. I could not believe it was happening to me. I saw two specialists before I would accept that there was a problem.”
Sandra found out she has Cookie Bite hearing loss, which means that hearing at low and high frequencies are fine, but the middle range soft sounds are lost. That means she can only hear parts of conversations.
Sandra said: “I went to retrain with the hope of being a teacher and did a course at the local college. It was here I realised straight away that I could not hear what the tutor was saying when he turned towards the blackboard or when any of the students spoke with their backs to me. All I could make out was muffled voices from the students. My anxiety levels went through the roof..”
She eventually went to see her GP and was given several hearing aids over the years, none of which resolved her hearing issues, leading her to abort her dreams of becoming a teacher.
Sandra added: “I started to make excuses to avoid various functions and began staying in more, having bouts of feeling really depressed and shedding many, many tears. Going out with a hearing loss, especially network meetings or lunches with groups, was difficult. I had mastered the art of nodding and smiling when I was at a loss as to what was said.”
She now has state-of-the-art hearing aids from Hidden Hearing, which also connects to her phone via Bluetooth.
She said: “Within 10 minutes of having these new hearing aids fitted, I went to a coffee shop to test them. I knew straight away that they were far superior. I was absolutely thrilled. Not only was the noisy coffee shop more doable, but the Bluetooth facility has also been a complete game-changer!
“I no longer live in fear of the phone ringing. The past two years my confidence has returned and I now coach 32 ladies through my Tropic Beauty business. That is something I could never have done before. I can do all the things a normal person takes for granted.
Sandra now has her sights on becoming a senior manager with Tropic Beauty. She said:
“I was genuinely on the verge of giving up before Christmas. I felt frustrated and worthless. When I got my new hearing aids fitted in April, things started to change. I became a manager in July and that is because I can communicate properly now.
Harvey Shaw, the audiologist at Hidden Hearing in Llandudno, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to the catalyst which has completely changed the life and fortunes of Sandra and we applaud her continued success.”
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