Medical Section: Lend Me Yours Ears - Hilton Head Hearing Services
Author: Rebecca Edwards | Photographer: John Brackett
If you met Paul Hayward Taylor, you would probably describe him as jovial, witty and personable. His handshake is confident, his smile is warm, and his southern accent is charming. Today he is wearing khaki pants and a soft yellow sweater and is excited about meeting up with some friends to play a round of golf.
But this is the new Taylor. Last year you might have described him as aloof. He would have described himself as withdrawn.
“I started losing my hearing in the ’80s,” Taylor said. “Gradually, I began shutting myself off. I became antisocial because I didn’t know what the heck people were saying. I felt deaf and dumb.”
Yet, with the help of Dr. Michael Szynski of Hilton Head Hearing, Taylor is grinning from ear to ear—enjoying his friends, family and life with well-fitted, premium Widex hearing aids.
“There are several levels of hearing loss,” explained Dr. Mike, the endearing nickname Szynski’s patients have given him. “There’s mild, moderate, severe and profound. Mr. Taylor is severe in his left ear and profound in his right.”
For someone with profound hearing loss, unaided he or she must depend on visual cues such as lip reading, sign language or mannerisms to communicate. Severe hearing loss sufferers may only detect or comprehend speech if the speaker is talking loudly or at close range. As you can imagine, this can be very frustrating. According to Dr. Mike, hearing loss can lead to a downward health spiral. “Many hearing impaired people turn inward,” he said. “And then other health problems creep up, like depression and other serious issues.”
Dr. Mike feels a moral, personal and professional obligation to stop this trend. “Every day I try to walk a little better,” Dr. Mike said. This means honoring his strong commitment to God and his patients.
“I feel blessed to be able to bring patients back into the world of hearing,” Dr. Mike said.
Like old friends, Taylor and Dr. Mike laugh about how they first met.
“His name just kept popping up,” Taylor joked. “So finally, I went to one of his seminars, and from what I could understand, it was a good presentation. But, in the back of my mind, I didn’t think it was going to help. I accepted the fact I wasn’t going to hear,” Taylor said.
“So, then he shows up in my office with a friend who is acting as his ears,” Dr. Mike said. “I realize that he has paid a lot of money trying so many different products and with no success. I believe in what we do here, but I was really worried about letting him down. I didn’t want to see him experience anymore failure.”
Taylor admits there was something about Dr. Mike that he believed in, and so he decided to test out that intuition. “I wanted to go on a road trip to Alabama with four friends,” Taylor said. “So, I asked him to fit me for a pair of aids before I left.”
Dr. Mike met Taylor in his Hilton Head Hearing office on Main Street at 7 a.m. He fitted Taylor’s new aids and wished his friend/patient a great vacation. One of the many complaints of hearing aid wearers is that they catch more background noise than foreground noise. With four men in the car, Taylor was able to hear from all directions. He had a blast.
“I was so happy his aids worked,” Dr. Mike said.
When Taylor returned, Dr. Mike went to Taylor’s house and helped him install a Bluetooth device on his TV so that he could sync it to his aid. Whereas before the television might have been extremely loud and disruptive for Taylor’s wife, now it can be on mute and Taylor can manipulate the sound into his ears with a remote. Equally helpful, he “Bluetoothed” Taylor’s cell phone so that he can hear “better than the rest of us with normal phones,” Dr. Mike said.
Hearing aids are subject to technological advances just like cars or computers, and each aid lasts about five to six years. Dr. Mike works diligently to stay abreast of developments and is very selective about the aids he recommends.
In today’s medical world, where patients often feel disconnected from their doctors, Taylor says Dr. Mike is a unique healthcare provider. “I believe he sincerely wants to help you. After all, he really helped me. Come to think of it, he will probably have to keep helping me,” Taylor laughed.
Dr. Mike nods and then elaborates. He explains that hearing aids are subject to technological advances just like cars or computers, and each aid lasts about five to six years. This is why Dr. Mike works diligently to stay abreast of developments and is very selective about the aids he recommends.
“So many people see hearing aid ads in the paper with beautiful marketing words and they end up wasting money.” said Dr. Mike, who started his business almost a decade ago. “That is why I decided to work with a company that is one of the leaders in industry research. They have outstanding devices. I have less than a one percent return rate.”
According to Dr. Mike, hearing aids are only a small portion of his business. Hilton Head Hearing tests, diagnoses, cleans and treats newborn to adult patients. “I always tell people, ‘What an optometrist does for eyes, we do for ears.’”
Taylor will tell you what Dr. Mike does is invest in his patients. “He serves as an ear for people personally, as well as medically,” Taylor said.
“I think one of the most important things we can do in this world is communicate,” Dr. Mike said. “I’m glad I can facilitate that.”
Hilton Head Hearing Services is located at 23 Main Street, Ste 101-A, Hilton Head and 55B Sheridan Park Circle, Bluffton. For more information, call (843) 681-6070 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.