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How a Rare Disorder Drove my Passion to Become a Speech Language Pathologist by Kaylee Torok


In May 2017, a life-altering event happened in my life. I woke up in the middle of the

night and I was suddenly unable to hear out of my right ear. Thinking I just got up too

fast and my equilibrium was off, I sat down in bed waiting a couple of minutes for it to

come back. When it didn’t, I knew something was wrong.

At this time, I was living on the west side of Michigan residing in Grand Rapids for my

undergraduate studies and my home was located on the east side of the state, in

Fenton. It was around 2 a.m. when I called my mother, unsure of what to do, and thankfully,


she picked up the phone. She was just as scared as I was and told me to call the nearby hospital. They informed me that if my hearing did not come back within 4 hours, I needed to go to the hospital.

I was really frightened to be alone and unable to go back to sleep. I decided to drive home to

be with my mom and go to the hospital with her rather than going by myself.


After a long process of various tests, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease at the age

of 22. This is a rare disorder and for those who are diagnosed, the onset typically

doesn’t occur until 40-60 years of age. Since I’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s, I have

lost most of my hearing in my right ear and experience constant tinnitus (ringing in the ear). Treatment for Meneire’s Disease began with steroid shots in my eardrum weekly in an attempt to “revive” any dead hair cells in the inner ear. I also began taking a diuretic daily that helps release excess sodium in the body to decrease any amount of fluid retention in my ear, which I will

take for the rest of my life.



While going through this experience, I questioned if speech language pathology was the

right profession for me. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to serve others to the best

of my ability because of this loss. I even had others comment that maybe I shouldn’t go

into this field. Thankfully, I have an amazing foundation of support and doctors who

reassured me that this wouldn’t get in the way.


In October 2019, I was able to get a hearing aid which has helped me be able to

communicate efficiently in everyday life, and most importantly, with my patients. I

realized that God was giving me this trial to be able to better relate to my clients

and drive me even further to help others who experience life changing communication difficulties. Through this experience, I learned that anything is possible.


My goal is to show my patients and their loved ones that they can live with challenges

that communication deficits may bring and have a bright future too.

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