Seen & Heard: Tommy Thomas

18 10 2012

Tommy Thomas, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the September/October 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I photographed Tommy during Convention 2012 in Providence, RI. Other members previously profiled were Danielle NicosiaJohn KinstlerJudy Martin, Anne TaylorSam SpritzerJeff BonnellEloise SchwarzGlenice SwensonLaurie Pullins, and Rosemary Tuite and Kathy Borzell.


Vine Grove, KY / born April 15, 1955, Bowling Green, KY

MY HEARING LOSS… I had German measles at age four and developed a high fever. My parents noticed the hearing loss at age five. I was fitted with a body aid and then went to a BTE (behind-the-ear) on my left ear. There was total loss in my right ear. I was implanted with a cochlear implant in my right ear about eight years ago. I still wear a BTE on the left ear.

SAGE ADVICE for SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Join a hearing loss support group for advice; lots can be learned from them.

A FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… On the third date with the woman who would later become my wife, my hearing aid battery died. I said, ‘Excuse me, but I need to change my hearing aid battery.’ She was curious because she had never been around anyone who wore a hearing aid, so she asked, ‘How often do you have to do that?’ I said, ‘well, with you it will be more often—because you talk quite a bit.’ The look on her face was priceless. After we married, and it was time to go back to work after the honeymoon, at 4:20 in the morning she was awakened by a strobe light and a shaking bed. She sat straight up in the bed, startled and thinking there was an earthquake or something. I intentionally had not told her about my alarm clock. She had never considered how a deaf or hard of hearing person awoke in the mornings to go to work.

WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE… a farmer and a welder.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… riding horses and going on trail rides

PETS? Morgan, a one-eyed Corgie mix and Trouble (a very appropriately named cat)

HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… at age 14, I took a tractor motor completely apart and reassembled it without any manuals or instructions.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… my antique tractor running.

IN MY SPARE TIME… antique tractor rides, antique tractor shows, work in my shop

I MISS… being in my 30s when my body didn’t ache.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT… I am 5’15” tall—do the math.

MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT… is that I am an exceptional lip reader.

I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Smarties (the candy).

PLACES I’VE CALLED HOME… nine months in my mother’s womb, Bowling Green, KY; Bardstown, KY; Radcliff, KY and then Vine Grove, KY

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… I’ve had only three jobs—(1) farm laborer as a teen; (2) meat cutter for 33 years; and (3) full-time farmer.

MUSIC TO MY EARS… Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, Standing on the Promises, Jesus Loves Me

I AM… honest, dependable and fun.

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD… first, the hearing aid and second, the cochlear implant

I HAVE A FEAR OF… ferris wheels.


MY FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my tractors, all my tools, and my teddy bear that I’ve had for 53 years and it still looks good

PET PEEVE… school buses—they stop every 20 feet

IF I RULED THE WORLD… everyone is treated equally, no one goes hungry, and no politics

WHAT IS THE KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS DONE FOR YOU? My friend, Charlie, took me out every day to walk after my back surgery to help me get my strength back.

HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED? as Sir Tom—the name I have used in the hearing loss chatroom for years

MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT… I built my house at age 21 and I’m still living in it.

I like everything in Hearing Loss Magazine, but I wish it came monthly.




One response

18 10 2012

Strobe Light — what a way to wake up on honeymoon, soooooo funny. I love all of your answers and it tells a lot about your character and “Faith” that has brought you thru life in such a beautiful way. Thank you for sharing this. It will be such an encouragement to those who will be treading your path. You are an example of strength.

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