Don Doherty, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the March/April 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I photographed Don at HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island last June.
Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler, Judy Martin, Anne Taylor, Sam Spritzer, Jeff Bonnell, Eloise Schwarz, Glenice Swenson, Laurie Pullins, Rosemary Tuite and Kathy Borzell, Tommy Thomas, Marisa Sarto, George Kosovich, Gary Trompower and Juliette Sterkens.
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Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.
DON DOHERTY, Moyock, NC / born June 12, 1946, Camden, NJ
MY HEARING LOSS… As a Marine infantryman, I lost my hearing or most of it, in Vietnam where I spent 19 months as part of a rifle company (Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1966-1967), following exposure to gun fire, artillery, and other very loud noises. I was 20 years old. The first sign that I lost my hearing was during night patrol or other operations while still in Vietnam. I realized I couldn’t understand what someone was saying if they whispered in my ear. I could hear that they were whispering but I couldn’t understand what the message was. I managed to survive by letting some people know I couldn’t hear, but generally I just faked it and tried to bluff my way through situations. Following my return from Vietnam I was transferred to Puerto Rico where I again had difficulty hearing. This time the jig was up and I was medically evacuated to Philadelphia Naval Hospital where I was issued one hearing aid. I needed two aids, but in those days needing two hearing aids meant discharge, and I still wanted to be a Marine. So I was grateful to have one hearing aid.
SAGE ADVICE FOR SOMEONE NEWLY-DIAGNOSED WITH HEARING LOSS… Keep your sense of humor and lose your sense of being different. Most people who know you, know you have a hearing loss, and won’t care.
MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I once went to bed and locked my wife out of the house using a chain lock. She couldn’t get in and enlisted the help of neighbors who eventually used a hacksaw to get into the house.
WHEN I GREW UP, I WANTED TO BE A… I always wanted to be a soldier or Marine. I grew up with John Wayne movies and pride in my country. I joined the Marine Corps at my first opportunity and have never regretted that decision.
MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… is of being at my great grandmother’s house in the country. There were woods to explore, forts to dig, turtles, frogs and snakes to find, and quiet moments to fish. It was a magical time in the 1950s when all seemed right with the world.
FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… When I was a child we used to get a pair of shoes each year from Ruby’s Shoes, a small store in Westmont, New Jersey. The shoes were $5 a pair. I always had a choice of brown or black shoes. My dad said if you want different styles and want to spend more money then you have to get a job. So I delivered bleach and got a paper route and was eventually able to buy a $10 pair of shoes.
PETS? I have a small teacup poodle that I named “Pookie Bear” and who is the joy of my life. She gives me licks and makes me laugh. Even though we graduated from Puppy Obedience School she doesn’t always listen. But then, I don’t always “listen” well either!
THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… was graduate from college while in the military. It took me 10 years and five colleges but I was finally able to do it. I now have graduate degrees but my hardest courses were as an undergraduate, especially the math.
IN MY SPARE TIME, I… am an avid reader especially of action novels. I love Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy. I get to a point where I just can’t put the book down. As an HLAA Chapter president I am also looking for and reading anything of interest that I can share with the hearing loss community especially if it relates to a new or improved hearing assistive technology.
I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… a dancer or party person. Large noisy places are difficult for me with two hearing aids. I have learned to choose my hearing environments so that I have a better chance at understanding what is going on. Even with directional mics, speechreading, and a telecoil—a party environment is still just a lot of noise. Besides I have so many other things I can do.
I MISS… being able to hear like I used to or like I would want to, but then I wonder how my life would be different. For the last 46 years I have learned and adapted to my hearing loss. Many times my drive to achieve or to excel has been in an effort to overcompensate for something I didn’t have which was good hearing. I knew in my mind as long as I did things better than anyone else, I was able to compete and be successful at whatever challenge I undertook. I think it’s a fear that many with hearing loss have that in order to be accepted we have to be better than our peers. It’s like “bluffing” or pretending to hear something when you don’t. You’re accepted and part of the group without having to draw attention to the fact you are different and have more challenges that most folks who can hear effortlessly. Yes, I miss hearing a lot, and my life would be easier in many ways, but no, my life wouldn’t be the same and I wouldn’t have the strength and adaptability that I have today.
HAPPINESS IS… a choice, an expectation and a state of mind. I see happiness as a choice I make every day regardless of where I am or what I am doing. I have been lonely on occasion when stationed overseas and far from home but I have always found something to be grateful for. I try to surround myself with people who laugh and are having fun in their life. By the same token I try to avoid those who are perpetually upset, complaining, sad or angry.
HOBBIES? My hobbies include reading, learning new computer programs, using Facebook and Twitter, playing with my dog, and doing work for the HLAA Chapter. I recently purchased a new iPad and am learning and playing with many of the applications I find. I am never bored and can always find something to do.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE? A Roman Catholic nun by the name of Sister Mary Walter was one of the most scholarly and understanding persons I know. She believed in my ability to get a college education regardless of the subject, the challenge or level of difficulty. As the psychology department chair she was both humble in character and rich in the ways of life. She lived on campus and her students more or less adopted her. I remember fondly her inspiring words “You can do this!” I was able to graduate from Alvernia College in Reading, Pennsylvania, with honors (and a hearing loss) because of her.
PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… am shy but might not show it, am emotional with sad movies or books (especially where an animal dies like in Old Yeller), can write poetry, collect art, will never go camping in anything more rustic than Holiday Inn, and that I still get messed up with directions!
MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT IS… I try to share whatever I can do with others and pass on areas outside my areas of expertise. So while I may be able to help you with a resume, don’t ask me to remodel a room. I remember trying to put a rug in the bathroom. I traced an outline of the floor, turned the rug over, cut it out with a sharp knife, then flipped it over. The cutout for the toilet was on the wrong side. Another thing I will never do again is try and put together a large cardboard dollhouse that comes unassembled—just too many lettered cardboard tabs.
I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… Chocolate in any form, most pies, a good grilled steak and corn on the cob.
I COLLECT… colorful prints, black and white sketches, and sepia prints of an artist by the name of Herb Jones. He has often been called a “poet with a paint brush” and his work has been on the world stage. I met him personally toward the end of his career and I was struck by the beauty of his work and the humble nature of his surroundings. He lived in a small bungalow in Norfolk, Virginia, with his wife. Despite severe diabetes and failing vision he continued to paint landscapes, water scenes, and rich clouds of varying intensity. He instilled in me a love of art that I would not have had were it not for his invitation to come to his home and talk with me.
I AM… friendly, helpful and compassionate.
FAVORITE COLOR? I like and look good in green so I will start there. I like colorful shirts and ties. Aloha shirts and Jerry Garcia ties are favorite parts of my wardrobe.
FIVE PLACES I HAVE LIVED… In the military I was fortunate to have lived in many different places and experienced many different cultures. My favorite place to live was Kailua, Hawaii. I was there for three years and it was truly living in paradise. I also lived in Plano, Texas, where I learned to eat and talk Texan. My time in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was interesting but not one of my favorite places to live mainly because of the language problems. Arlington, Virginia. was an exciting place to live with a lot happening. I now live in Moyock, North Carolina, a great little country community on the pathway to the Outer Banks.
FIVE JOBS I HAVE HAD… Career Marine for 23 years, clinical director for a substance abuse facility, program director for a substance abuse facility, V.P. for marketing & reseach development, and an education specialist for the federal government
MY DAUGHTER TAUGHT ME… patience of the highest order.
I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… love and human contact.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Friends and a good bottle of wine
THREE FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… my photo albums, my iPad and my Pookie Bear
I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… as a good person who took the time to help others along the way.
MY GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE… proudly serving as a Marine for 23 years, getting my education and raising a wonderful daughter.
Don is HLAA Virginia state coordinator and president of the Virginia Beach Chapter. You can meet Don in person at Convention 2013 as he is participating in the panel: A Holistic Approach to Hearing Health Care for Veterans: The Difference Between Getting By and Living Well, on Saturday, June 29. The panel is part of Hamilton CapTel presents Hearing Loss Solutions for Veterans.
I like stories in Hearing Loss Magazine that provide me with new information that I can share with others. I especially like hearing about new research, new technology, the capabilities of some of the newer hearing aids (like being water-resistant) and some of the best practices that are working to sustain our HLAA Chapters nationwide.