VA Palo Alto Health Care System

 

VA Care Never Sounded Better

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Ms. Warren with her VA doctors

Ms. Warren and the VA doctors who helped her regain her hearing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Vet's Life Changed by VA Doctor

After being greeted with the warmest smile from one of the gentlest women in the room, you probably think she is someone's grandmother. Luella Warren is a grandmother but she is also a U.S. Air Force Veteran who has traveled around the world, played basketball and softball for her military base while winning a national softball championship in the 1950s.

However, the story she tells with the most pride is how her life was changed by VA. During the 1970s, Warren began experiencing hearing loss in her right ear but accepted it as old age. She found out she was eligible for VA health care in the 1990s.

"I didn't even bother trying to enroll because I had private insurance," said Warren. "It wasn't until I needed health care one day that someone mentioned I had benefits available to me from VA."

It wasn't until late last year, when she developed an infection in her left ear, that Warren was seen by Dr. Gordon Gao in the Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic at VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Dr. Gao treated her infection but noticed some hearing loss and vertigo, referring her to the Audiology clinic, where she met the VA doctor that would change her life, Dr. Hamed Sajjadi.

After a re-evaluation of her hearing loss, Dr. Sajjadi found she was in fact going deaf and was a candidate to receive a Cochlear Baha implant.

The implant is an electronic device implanted in the ear to help people with extensive hearing loss. It uses our body's natural ability to conduct sound through bone to deliver the sound vibrations to the better hearing ear.

"I couldn't believe I could hear again," said Warren, smiling from ear to ear. "I started a journal of all the things I could hear and have reached 1,600 sounds so far!"

Dr. Gao was surprised to see a copy of a letter written to President Obama, explaining the great care received, written by Ms. Luella Warren.

"From primary care to ENT to Audiology, it was all of us working as a team that got Ms. Warren's hearing back," said Dr. Gao.

With her hearing back to normal, 87-year-old Luella Warren is as active as ever; traveling by herself from her home in Oakland to Palo Alto, visiting her grandchildren in Holland, and even spending some time at the movies.

When asked what keeps her fight so strong, she said, "I met a 100-year-old lady and asked her how she lived so long. She told me 'I just don’t die!' That has been my motto ever since."