The Doctor Is “OUT”

By Peter Cousin
Director of Marketing
Beltone Southside Hampton Roads

John Brein with Beltone Owner Bari Grohler


Dr. John Brein of Chesapeake had it all. A beautiful wife, two wonderful children, nice home, a sailboat and a successful medical practice united by some of the finest physicians in Virginia. And – just like that – his medical profession ended. Achieving his medical degree as a general surgeon in 1982, from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Dr. Brein specialized in Anesthesiology, based on the medical communities’ forecast of a shortage in this field by the year 2000. They were correct.

Completing his Anesthesiology Residency at Yale’s School of Medicine, he moved to Virginia Beach for its appealing appearance and professional opportunities. As a contributing member of a medical practice, their group became the anesthesia group for DePaul Medical Center where Dr. Brein became Chairman of the Anesthesiology Department. Life was good.

“By the age of 38,” Dr. Brein explains, “I began to notice a loss in my hearing. It became more difficult to hear the surgeons in the operating room, mouths covered by masks and voices sometimes soft or hushed.” He told one of his friends, an Otolaryngologist, about his hearing problem and they suggested getting an audiogram done. At the conclusion of the test, he was told he needed hearing aids in both ears. In disbelief, he told his friend he had to be wrong. They both reviewed the test and the conclusion was he had a loss in both ears.

Dr. Brein purchased one hearing aid and sought the medical advice from a well-known ENT surgeon in our area. With the hearing loss moderate to moderately severe, he underwent a surgical procedure to improve his left ear. While it improved the hearing capabilities to a degree, it was clear his hearing would not return to a level needed for his profession.

At the age of 40, Dr. Brein went to a convention called Self-help for Hearing Loss. “It was part of my discovery,” says the Doctor. “I found people of all ages there. I thought I would be surrounded by those much older than me. That’s how I envisioned people would be with hearing loss. To my surprise, there were many younger people in attendance. What I realized was younger people have a self-image problem. I, on the other hand, wanted more information – as much as I could gain. I wanted to know anything and everything about this hearing loss I had. There were not a lot of answers. What I did find out is you don’t really know how much communication you’re missing and the people you’re hurting (especially those closest to you) when you don’t address the problem.”

By the age of 43, his hearing had worsened. Even with the use of very powerful hearing aids in both ears, he found himself at a disadvantage and at issue was the very safety of his patients. After advice from his attorney and discussions with his partners and family, he ended his career.

Says Dr. Brein, “The perception is that hearing aids are too expensive and not “cool” for younger people. How untrue. I got hearing aids because I couldn’t hear what people around me were saying. Not only was it frustrating for me but it was frustrating for those around me I care about. I continued to have the TV too loud, spoke at a much louder tone of voice so people could hear me (actually so I could hear me) and never realized that the sore throat I continued to experience was from my own yelling.”

As the saying goes, “When One Door Closes, Another Opens.” This was true of Dr. Brein. He was Bari & Jon discuss his change of career closing out one successful profession and entering into a new exciting one as a Property Manager and owner of Home Choice Properties (Real Estate investment had been something he had been interested in for some time). “I buy homes, fix them up and rent them to wonderful people to enjoy. After wearing full-shell inside the ear hearing aids for more than 5 years, he was swayed by a Beltone newspaper ad he had seen and came into the office to see about the new technologically advanced hearing aid called True™. Being a “techy” of sorts, he wanted the very best hearing aid on the market with all the bells and whistles. When I asked him why he chose the True™ over less technological

Beltone” he says, “just sounds better. It’s clearer. With this new equipment, I can listen to MP3 formats and when the phone rings, the MP3 cuts off for my use of the phone. When I’m done with the call, the MP3 cuts back on automatically. That’s pretty nice. I can also listen to music or other media while still receiving the ambient sounds around me. That’s very close to normal hearing. Beltone’s new technology is on the cutting-edge and that excites me.”

I asked how it affected his hearing. He told me “before the True™ hearing aid, my right ear was so bad my old hearing aid provided next to nothing for me. With the new True™ hearing aid, it seems as though I’ve actually gained more than 50% hearing (and comprehension) in that ear. That is amazing.” I now wear the new True™ in both ears and it’s had a profound effect on my family life. My wife keeps saying I’m different. I’m no longer yelling when I talk and, at times, she has to listen to hear me. It’s great.

Jon holding the True™ in his palm sophisticated equipment he said “because I deserve it! If this is the best then this is what I want!

In closing, I asked Dr. (goes by Jon now) what he would say to someone in their 40’s and 50’s about hearing loss that might change the way they perceive the use of hearing aids. He said quite proudly, “The way it impacted me, was the people I love were suffering. I was blaming them for my problems of not hearing. You have no idea what you’re not hearing(and of course, understanding) and how much impact it has on people around you.

People with hearing problems, no matter their age, become bluffers. If you don’t hear what someone says or only catch part of it, rather than causing frustration or embarrassment, you make up in your mind what they are saying and hope you’re right. You’re not reading lips as much as you’re reading faces and expressions. After awhile you get to be pretty good at it but that’s not the answer for future happiness. The new hearing aids at Beltone fit over your ear and are not noticeable unless someone looks for them. And with the small clear tube that fits into your ear, you hear clearly not loudly, and are hardly noticeable. In short, hearing trumps everything else. It’s worth hearing what you’re missing. Call the folks at Beltone. They will take very good care of you… just like they’ve taken care of me.”