The month of May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Better hearing is more than a professional goal, but is also personal for both of our doctors of audiology. Dr. Pam Matthews has been wearing hearing instruments for 5 years and they help her tremendously in noisy listening environments. Dr. Kela Miller utilizes cochlear implants. As many are not familiar with cochlear implants, we are highlighting Dr. Kela Miller’s personal hearing journey. Dr. Kela Miller came to our practice in 2018 but has been an audiologist for 16 years. She is an exceptional person and makes our practice better just by having her here! Dr. Miller loves educating patients and helping them on their journey to better hearing. One of the things that sets her apart as an audiologist is her personal history with hearing loss and hearing technology. Her own hearing journey is what inspired her to become an audiologist and we are thrilled to share her story with you today!
Dr. Miller’s hearing loss began at the age of three. To this day, she isn’t exactly sure what caused her hearing loss, but with a family history, her best assumption is that it is genetic. By age five, she was fit with her first set of hearing aids and wore them throughout her childhood. Hearing aids are usually very helpful until a hearing loss becomes profound. Once hearing loss exceeds the capabilities of hearing instruments, cochlear implants are often the next step. Cochlear implantation includes a surgical component and an external processor held on with a magnet implanted under the skin. Her audiologist and ear physician counseled her to consider a cochlear implant. While she was encouraged to take the next step towards cochlear implants, she wasn’t too crazy about it at the time. She said, “It took years for me to agree to it. The risks felt scary; I didn’t want to have surgery. Plus, I was a teenager and didn’t want to shave my hair! But, by the time I was in college my hearing loss had progressed, and I couldn’t hear my professors well. I was also struggling to hear family and friends.” So, at the age of 20, Dr. Miller took a leap of faith and got her first cochlear implant; and then at age 32, her second. She is so glad she did!
While she has a deep passion for audiology now, Dr. Miller did not always want to be an audiologist. In fact, there was a time when she was flat out opposed to it. Growing up, she disliked having hearing tests as it was quite frustrating to not be able to repeat the words during the test. It wasn’t until she received her cochlear implant that her perspective shifted because it was life changing for her! She experienced a whole new world of sound that she had previously been unable to hear. Throughout her rehabilitation after surgery, she would describe sounds to her friends and family to learn what they were. Some distinct memories of this were learning what tree frogs in the summer sounded like, that a can of Coke made a fizzing noise, and that Rice Crispies cereal really did snap, crackle, and pop saying, “I truly thought it was just a gimmick!”
This experience inspired her to pursue a career in audiology. In 2006, she graduated with her doctorate in audiology from The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has been passionately helping patients ever since with hearing instruments and cochlear implants. The first eleven years of her career, Dr. Miller served patients at the INTEGRIS Cochlear Implant Clinic where she worked with adults and children fitting a variety of hearing devices such as cochlear implants, hearing aids, bone anchored hearing aids, and FM systems. Now at Pro Hearing, she says she has really enjoyed fitting the newer hearing instrument technology as patients are having better experiences than when she was growing up. Her favorite parts of being an audiologist are helping others improve their ability to communicate with those they love and seeing joy on patients’ faces! When Dr. Miller is not serving patients, her favorite past time is spending time with her husband and their twin boys.
Better speech and hearing has many solutions depending on each person’s hearing needs. Please call our office if you’d like information on how better hearing can transform your quality of life.