Stephen Ball fights hearing loss
Hearing loss to a singer is as serious a concern as blindness to a pilot or Parkinson’s to a painter. For the last several months, Ball Brothers baritone singer Stephen Ball has been fighting seriously deterioriated hearing; the Ball Brothers sent out this press release yesterday:
Many people have called and e-mailed over the past few weeks wanting an update on Stephen’s hearing condition. For those that are unaware of the situation, Stephen is 27 years old, third-born of the Ball Brothers and sings baritone. He has had some degree of hearing difficulty for several years.
Toward the end of last year the hearing problem increased. It began to hinder his ability to sing and communicate in situations where there was background noise. At that time he met with a local ENT doctor whose test confirmed moderate to major hearing loss in both ears. The cause of the hearing loss was not clearly diagnosed at that time. Stephen was fitted with digital hearing aids and adjustments were made that have allowed him to continue singing. After several months of appointments and testing in Chattanooga and Nashville, it was brought to our attention that the best place for him to receive treatment was the Shea Clinic in Memphis, TN. On Thursday, September 2, 2010 Stephen went to his first appointment at the Shea Clinic and met with Dr. Paul Shea. Tests run that day showed that Stephen’s hearing loss had stabilized over the past six months, but his speech recognition had decreased by 20%. His hearing loss is attributed to three factors: 1. Genetic hearing loss 2. Tinnitus or (ringing of the ears) caused by the nerve endings that have died due to the genetic hearing loss 3. Increased pressure and fluid in the inner ear. (Possibly the early stages of Meniere’s disease.)
Although the prognosis was not what we had hoped for, the stabilization of his hearing loss is really good news and an answer to prayer. There is hope that the rate of hearing loss will stop. Stephen was given a prescription for a combination of drugs that are hoped to calm the tinnitus and relieve some of the pressure and fluid. If these drugs show any improvement in his condition, he will be returning to the Shea Clinic for a new surgical procedure that could help him hear considerably better.
Stephen’s plan is to continue singing as long as he is able. Stephen lightheartedly says, “This isn’t the end of the world for me. The great thing about singing with my brothers is that I will always have a job. Mom won’t let them fire me! Even if I go completely deaf, I’m still better looking than Josh and the guys will keep me around to dump the bus tanks. I’m still the only one who knows how to do it right. Seriously, I’m not taking this as a defeat or even a trial, I’m taking it as a challenge to accomplish God’s will for my life and that is to sing. I’m humbled and grateful for the prayers and support from so many people.”
Updates on Stephen’s condition will be posted on the Ball Brothers’ Facebook page.