The Power of Adaptability: Tiffany Storrs on Hearing Loss and Transforming Pain into Purpose

tiffany storrs adaptability
July 30, 2023

This week, Gael Hannan sits down with Tiffany Storrs, a trilingual actress, advocate, and author of the memoir “Adaptability.” She shares her transformation from pain to purpose through faith and determination and describes her experience with sudden hearing loss and two hearing implant surgeries.

Tiffany’s hearing loss struck suddenly after giving birth, and coming to terms with her new reality was a process that took time. Sadly, her friends and family initially doubted her condition, causing her deep pain. However, Tiffany used their skepticism as fuel to prove to herself the power of adaptability. She encourages others to view challenges as “wild cards” and discover the hidden blessings within them. Through her hearing loss journey, Tiffany has gained purpose and perspective, considering it a victory rather than a setback. Both Tiffany and Gael Hannan share a mission to support the hearing loss community by sharing their stories and practical tools for everyday living.

Tiffany’s memoir, Adaptability, is available on Amazon, and she seeks to reach as many people as possible to offer guidance and support on their own hearing loss journeys.

Did this episode impact your life with hearing loss? If so, leave a comment on Tiffany’s Instagram @tiffanystasnystorrs for a chance to win a signed copy of Adaptability.

Full Episode Transcript

Welcome to This Week in Hearing.

I’m Gael Hannan,

hearing health advocate,


and writer on hearing

health issues,

as well as the author of Hear

and Beyond Live Skillfully

with Hearing Loss,

written with Shari Eberts.

I am delighted to be speaking

today with Tiffany Storrs.

She is an actress, an advocate,

and an author,

and recently published her

memoir called Adaptability,

which is the story of

transforming pain into purpose.

And the pain refers to her

journey of through infertility

hearing loss, cochlear implant.

And what was the last one?

That journey?

Failure. Oh, my gosh. Tiffany,

welcome. I mean,

that’s a journey for anyone,

but you tell your story

helped by faith and


And I’m just so pleased to have

you here with me today,

because as a person with hearing

loss and as an author writer,

I love to meet other writers on

the subject as well as I talk

hearing loss till the

cows come home.

And I love to meet people

and hear their stories.

So congratulations on your book.

Now I don’t have a copy

in front of me.

Why don’t you hold it

up so we can see it?

Look at that.


That’s what I want to look

like when I grow up.

That’s wonderful.

Anyway, Gael,

I know where you are.

I’m here on Vancouver Island and

in Canada. Where are you?

I’m in Denver, Colorado.

And I just want to say the

pleasure is all mine Gael, I love the

work that you’re putting out

into our community. Don’t stop.

We need more Gaels

in our community.

And it is such an honor as to be

here with you today. Well,

it’s a mutual honor,

so we’ll jump right into it.

Tell me and tell us about when

and how you got your

hearing loss.

My hearing loss came on

suddenly. It was,

I want to say almost overnight,

but two weeks is more accurate.

I had just given birth

to my first,


our life was so messy.

We were tired,

didn’t know what was going on.

First child syndrome.

And I felt like I had a really

terrible sinus infection one

of my ears was clogged up,

or that’s what I thought it was.

At least that.

That point in time,

and it didn’t get better.

It didn’t get better.

Waited it out.

We just chalked it all up to

the chaos of new parenthood.


then frustration started to

build when not only could I not

hear my daughter cry when

she needed to be nursed,

needed attention,

but my husband, poor thing,

he must have thought I was being

incredibly selfish and

pretending not to hear when

I really couldn’t.

And it took him nudging me and

physically rolling my

body to wake me up.

And we realized at that

point in time,

this was

something way worse.

And I did make an appointment

with the audiologist.

We confirmed I had single sided

deafness SSD at that point.

And the look on my face,

I don’t even realize if I

had brushed my teeth.

But to tell me that I was losing

my hearing and I had already

gone completely deaf on one side

was bewildering right.

I did not see that one coming.

There is zero history of hearing

loss in my entire family.

No one even wears a hearing aid,

much less a hearing implant.


this wild card, this one,

I did not see coming.

But to be honest,

Gael and that’s what I’m about,

is honesty,

as I’m still learning

about myself throughout this

hearing loss journey.

I want to continue to

evolve and learn,

is that we don’t always need

to know what’s coming next.

I’m glad now, in hindsight,

that I didn’t know

that was coming.

I would have

overthought it.

I would have

gotten my own way.

I would have probably paralyzed

by my thoughts, by the fear.

So when the audiologist

confirmed the news,

I had to take a hard look at my

new reality and look at it

and make friends with it and do

it even while I was scared.


I accepted it being scared.

And how long did that process

take for you?

Not that we need timelines,

but are we talking months?

I mean, keeping in mind,

you were a new mom,

first time mom, so.

When did this happen? First off?

How long ago?

My daughter was born in 2007,

so this happened shortly


But it actually took me a good

year to get a hearing aid.

I was able to compensate with

single sided deafness.

I don’t know how we do it or why

someone could want to do it when

there’s so much access

to great technology,

but I think it’s very human.

When we experience


life changes that there’s a

component of us that

is in denial,

and we have to go through that.

I had to go through that.

I had to move through that.

And then the denial turned

into sadness,

then turned into reality,

then turned into purpose and

movement and action.

Except for so a year

for me to get aids.

And then

as we welcomed our second child,

hearing went from bad, worse,

and I lost

everything on my other side.

And so the only option

for me at that point

was an implant.

It just happened so fast.

So from 2007 to where I am now,

it has taken me all

that time to come

to have great composure about

saying that my hearing loss is

actually my hearing wing.

It was the best gift that

ever happened to me.


I really needed to see that and

go through that pilgrimage to

understand why I can say that.


A couple of things jumped

out at me. First,

you were describing

the five stages

of grief,

denial and anger and

all of that,

but also your incredible


I could say this as the mom

bravery to have another child

with the possibility that

you would lose more.

So that tells me that the values

to have people in our lives that

we love is greater than that

fear or what might.

Wow. That is incredible. Yeah.

Thank you, Gael. Yes.

My call to motherhood was much

louder than the silence,

the deafening silence.

And I did battle with


so I knew that having a second

was all would complete me,

would complete my family.

So I didn’t let that slow me

down. Own. And in that process,

I started surprising myself with

what I could get through and

what challenges I could accept

and really move through.

I started surprising myself and

started gaining more confidence

in my own adaptability.

I had to see that for myself,

you know? That’s so true.

Before we started

recording this,

we talked about how much it

helps to read about

other people,

read other people’s stories

and learn from that.


I didn’t have that. And in fact,

it’s interesting because it was

being expecting my own child,

my first child,

that actually led me to reach

out to community,

although I didn’t think of it in

those terms. I needed help.

I was going to be a mom.

What if I didn’t hear him

crying in the night?

And I reached out for help,

for some advice,

and it was life changing.


I got a comfort,

but I got that in advance.

You had the baby first,

but I certainly understand the

issues of being a mom.

You were equally brave to ask

for help in that moment.

I think that’s part of the

problem, is voicing saying,

I need help.

Whatever I’m doing right

now is not sufficient.

It’s not sustainable.

So you’re equally brave

in that regard.

The timing of mine was just

it’ll never make sense to me,

but at the same time,

it’ll make perfect sense

of how everything unfolded and

the beauty of the blessings

that came afterwards.

It had to go down that way.

Yeah. That’s fabulous.

And I love

that message.

In your book

you mentioned at the beginning

of the book.

Let me just read what said here,

and I’m quoting here.

“When I first learned that

I was going deaf,

I was utterly appalled when

people’s response,

and both friends and strangers

alike was one of doubt and

criticism and disbelief instead

of sympathy and respect.”


Your friends and family

didn’t believe you?

That was harder than going deaf.

Was having disbelief about

my condition. That hurt.

I’m still trying to process

that pain. Yes.

Even close friends and family

had a very hard time

understanding the

my new reality,

the believability of it.

A lot of them said I

was being dramatic.

I was just overly

tired as a mom,

perhaps hire a nanny

to get some help.

And I wanted to vomit by those

statements just how inaccurate

and insensitive and reductive

they felt.

That was so far from the truth.

And why would anyone make

something like that up?

It disgusted me.

But at the same time,

had my message been received

with so much support,


endless blessings and how I

don’t know that I would have

wrote Adaptability or I don’t

know that that fire in my heart

would have started without the

doubt and without the criticism.

Because now I was on a mission.

Not to prove anyone wrong,

but to prove to myself that

I trusted my body.

I knew something was up.

And I am here to tell my story.


you don’t have to like

it or listen to it,

and I’m not going to

call out names,

but I still deal with that pain

of the doubt and the criticism

and beyond friends and family,

I deal with it from time to time

in everyday situations.

I’m an avid mountain biker,

for example.

My cochlear implant does fit

under my helmet. But honestly,

Gael, I really love biking.

Without it,

I feel like that’s my

reflective time.

I don’t have to

digest so much noise.

And there was one instance where

there was someone riding behind

me, trying to pass me.

I didn’t hear him.

Long story short,

he ends up pushing me a little

bit with his bike.

And I said, I’m sorry, sir.

I didn’t hear you.

And I could read what he was.

I said, I’m deaf. Did you not?

I wear a deaf cycling patch when

I cycle without my implants.

It’s very visible.

Bright yellow says deaf cyclist.

I said, I’m sorry,

did you not see the patch?

I’m deaf.

He says you’re not deaf.

You’re crazy. So he knew sign.

He can also tell me,

I was not deaf, I was crazy.

And it’s people like that that

I want to say thank you.

Thank you.

Now you just only confirm

I’m on the right path.

You have brought me so much

purpose in educating.


And there are always some people

who aren’t going to

hear the message,

but I totally get what

you’re saying.

I remember

that sense of purpose,

that sense perhaps almost

of excitement,

was when I went to my first

hearing loss conference,

which was where I met a woman

who told me that I could be a

good mom in spite

of hearing loss.

That light change for me.

I became so excited,

actually, my identity expanded.

I’d always had hearing loss.

I always said I’m

hard of hearing,

but now I just took on

a new me.

It was a new part of me that I

wasn’t proud that I

had hearing loss,

but I was proud about how I was

handling it and it made a lot of

difference for me. And I also,

as I became involved,

I realized that we needed a

better way to explain hearing

loss to people.

And I was thinking this.

When your friends and family,

to look at us,

we look like two average,

absolutely stunningly,

gorgeous human beings.

Yes, we are. That.

You can’t tell that we

have hearing loss.

So my mission became to find a

way to explain it in a way that

people will understand.

And not just the hearing loss,

but the impact of hearing

loss on our lives.

Let me ask you about the name

of your book, Adaptability.

So I read once, twice,

three times in your book,

perhaps adaptability is a verb.

So the writer and me goes, no,

it’s not. It’s a noun.

It’s a noun.

So tell me about that.

Tell me about Adaptability. Yes.

When coming up with a name for

your book or your project,

for some people might find

it very daunting.

For me it was top choice because

if I had to put it

all in one word,

how I got through infertility

hearing loss, heart failure,

that sums it all up.


I was able

it was a verb, though.

In my heart it was a verb

because I knew what Adaptability

looked like through

that journey.

And what that looked like to me

was movement was moving forward

through not just processing

and going through things,

but moving through things

which required action,

which required whether

they be baby steps.

Making this visit with my Hcp.

Demoing, an implant,

whatever steps I could do to

improve the communication and

improve the connection and

maintain my connections with

family and friends, with work,

with community,

I was going to do that.

And it required movement.

Nothing was going to magically

happen if I didn’t do something.

It was a very proactive verb,

and I still

call it even a language,

because you don’t ever just get

through one thing or

adapt to one thing.

At the human condition,

we are always going to be

adapting, evolving,

and it will require

a progressive,

forward thinking mindset to get

through challenges, but we can.

And I’m living proof.

I’m still here. I did it scared,

but I adapted and I adapted

really well.

And that adaptability

was movement.

So it’s a verb and you’re great.

I love it. I love it.

And you took charge.

And I think that when we take

charge of our own journey,

then regardless of what

direction that goes in,

at least we’re in charge.

And I know that some people do

need a little extra help

to see it that way,

to move out of a victim mindset.

And if anyone could be with what

you’ve gone through and I want

to talk a little bit about

your cochlear implant,

but taking charge and

that adaptability,

it makes so much sense and it’s

a message that we all

need to hear.

So you got a cochlear implant

and that was, I take it.

It’s been good.

But things didn’t go quite so

well just after the surgery,

is that correct? Yes.

I have two different

Cochlear products.

I have a Cochlear BAHA on one

side because my hearing loss

initially was single sided.

So a BAHA bone anchored hearing

aid was the best solution

for me.

And then as my hearing

loss progressed,

I was a great candidate for CI.


it was the BAHA surgery and

there were no complication

through that surgery itself.

But doctors did

find an underlying heart

condition that I had been living

with potentially my whole life.

But that surgery really saved me

because it would not have

been detected otherwise.

And it had nothing to do I don’t

want to scare off people who

are contemplating CIs.

And it was nothing about

that surgery. In fact,

I woke up in the recovery room

and I was complaining

of my chest hurt.

Instead of feeling achey on my

head, it was in my chest.


why am hurting here?

Why am I hurting?

And the doctors.

Nurses rushed over to tell me

that compression had happened

and I was flatlining in the OR.

And they found a condition

called brachycardia where

your heartbeats too low.

So an average heart beats 60

to 100 beats per minute.

Mine was in the 30s,

just normally, maybe high.

40s at times when

I was exercising.

We’re talking in the

recovery room.

The lowest drop was 17.

So that was a code blue where

Life Support,

life assistance was in the room

and trying to stabilize

my heart.

And I’m trying to make sense of

everything that just happened.



the doctors explained they

needed to now stabilize me

and get my heart rate back up so

that I could receive pacemaker.

This heart conditioner would

have killed me otherwise.

That’s why this surgery was such

blessing it would not have been

detected and I would not be this

great conversation with

you today, Gael.

I had such a brush

with death that

one instance has forever

transformed the landscape

of my heart,

literally and figuratively.

Right now,

I have a dual chamber Pacemaker

and a BAHA and a CI

getting me through

airport security.

I was just going to say you must

just light it up, girl.

So I am so

like it’s crazy.

And that’s not even my favorite

superpower. Gael,

you and I are unicorns in the

regard that tapping to the

superpower of sound up.

And it took me losing my hearing

to realize what a

gift silence is.

When we are tapped out,

we get sound out.

Not everyone gets to do that.

I don’t actually get to do that

myself. I have severe tinnitus.

So the devices are on,

the tinnitus is less.

So when I first got my CI,

tinnitus went away,

but it came back.


And I know many people with

cochlear implants.

At the end of the day,

it comes off.


it’s been seven years for me.

Seven years.

And things still sound really

loud to me all the time.

And that’s okay because but I

know what you’re saying about

sound can be very. Invasive,

but I have learned to deal

with that anyway,

and I want to honor your

struggle with that because it’s

something that we as society

don’t get to see.

It’s hard to measure visually

what you’re struggling with.

So I want to honor that because

that thank you so much.

I accept that honor,

and I’m grateful for it.

Thank you.

Because it is something

be careful what you wish for,

because years ago with hearing

loss, I said well to myself.

I didn’t say it out loud.


at least I’m not so doubt that I

need a cochlear implant. Boom.

And then I went, well,

at least I don’t have

tinnitus kaboom.

So I’m not sure what else

comes after this,

but it’s a matter of living

with it and adaptability.

And you will adapt, Gael.

You will adapt.

Tell me about your wild cards

that you mentioned.


definitely the wild cards for me

came in terms of infertility

hearing loss, heart failure.

I just learned to repurpose the

word obstacle roadblock

challenge into a mindshift like

mindshift like you discussed

a lot in your books,

that we need to reframe how

we’re viewing a situation,

viewing a problem.

And I renamed them wild cards.

We might not like the cards

we’re dealt with.

We certainly got to learn

how to play them.

And the best strategy I ever

learned was making friends

with my wild cards,

making friends with

my hearing loss,

because the minute you make

friends with your wild card,

you take back the power.

It no longer has you.

You have it.

And learning to find the

friendship within the wild

card and the blessings,

because there’s always


They might not be visible right

away or even ten years from now,

but there is always a silver

lighting, always blessings,

always lessons to be learned

behind those wild cards.

So I challenge everyone,

hearing impaired or not,

to reframe what you think of as

an obstacle, as a challenge.

And I challenge you to really

replace those words with a wild

card and ask yourself, okay,

how am I going to play this

card? Take back your power.

I love it.

Especially as a card player,

you’re always hoping

for a wild card.

So this is a different card

game that we’re playing.

You get the you don’t want the

wild carbon. You get it,

how am I going to make it so.

That we win.

Whatever we look at think of as

winning. I don’t think yeah,

it’s like Shari and I say in

our book, it’s a journey.

Hearing loss is not a puzzle

that can know.

You put that last piece

in and you’re there.

It’s a journey with its rivers

and valleys and that

sort of thing.

And when you can look at hearing

loss or any hits,

you in life in a different way,

if you can just reframe

your view,

that really makes all

the difference.

And that can happen anytime.

Even if you’ve been living with

hearing loss for a lifetime or

you’re in the first rows

of losing your hearing,

that shift can happen anytime.

We are so on the same journey.

We’re in different kayaks,


but we’re on that same journey.

That my shift is so


as you and I both know,

as you get there,

you can’t unknow what you know

and as you taste how delicious

that transformation can

be and the blessings,

and you really consider it.

I consider it a hearing win.

It’s not a loss to me at all.

I just don’t see it that way.

I never did. I mean,

don’t get me wrong,

there was moments,

sadness and fear.

Like I said, I did it scared.

But now,

if someone had told me all

this 20 years ago,

they would have told me,

you’re going to have two

healthy children,

you’re going to go deaf a long

way, you’ll almost die.

I’d say,


that made of paper

in a heartbeat.

My call to motherhood

was much stronger

and now I’ve found my purpose

with my hearing

Loss has gave me so much purpose

and perspective.

How could I

ever not want that to have

happened to me? Exactly.

Many people say this,

that other people with

hearing loss.

I was speaking at a conference

last week and this woman said if

someone asked me or there was a

magic pill to give me back my

hearing, she’d have to go,

thank you, but no.

And I feel that some days, like,

there was a date this week and

I wrote about it this week,

I just, oh, yeah,

I really would give me the pill,

but really no,


it’s been my life and my career,

my vocation in my avocation.

And like you,

it’s a gift.

That might sound arrogant,

but I

using this

know Tiffany,

I would love us to have another

conversation because there’s so

much that we haven’t covered in

this episode of this

week in Hearing,

but we’re drawing to a close and

I’m just hold this up again.

Will you?

Yeah, I just have a PDF.

Where can people get your book?

It’s on Amazon.

You can get a Kindle or copy.

And I want to give listeners

a chance to get there.

I want to give away two signed

free copies to whoever

follows me on Instagram and

tells me their favorite takeaway

from our conversation.

My Instagram handle is


and I’ll make sure Gael has that

in the show notes, too.

But it’s T-I-F-F-A-N-Y stasby.

Stasny. And then stores.

S-T-O-R-R-S this book into

everyone’s hands.

Just like I feel there’s

a library,

there’s a deep well of books

from authors, from you.

And I like Gael,

who really

our conversations and our tools,

they belong in the hands

of recipients,

cochlear implant recipients,

hearing aid recipients,

people who are going through

this for the first time.

I’m adamant that instead of a

post surgery care packet,

I would have much rather like to

receive your book because

it had the practical,

everyday put into practice tips

and tools that could have

really benefited from.

And that’s what I hope

you and I can serve as role

models and authority figures in

this arena in getting these

types of books into the

hands that really,

really need to read often.

Great. I totally agree.

And people with hearing loss or

they are suspecting it

maybe in that denial,

or if they don’t have

hearing loss,

you see ads for hearing aids.

It doesn’t mean anything to you

because you’re not there.


people can find these books if

they’re starting to suspect they

can order our books and

hopefully learn.

And just like that little

mustard seed,

you never know where that’s

going to fall

and people can be helped.


not wanting to sound arrogant,

but we have been through this.

We have been through all of

and Tiffany, your book,

you kind of did some things

in a different order than.

Than I did. Again,

everyone’s story is different,

but we can all learn from each

other and be part of

this community.


this has been wonderful speaking

with you, and I do want to,

at some point,

schedule another one and talk

about some other aspects

of your journey.

And you teach sign language,

you’re trilingual,

and there’s just other things

that I’d like to talk about the

cochlear implant.

But this has been wonderful.

Love that I’d love. Keep going.

And we will that the compassion

will continue. We are connected.

We are all connected.

It’s our birthright to connect.

So it is through these shared

experiences if there’s one

takeaway that I think you and

I can collectively give,

is that since we are warriors

and survivors of these


I like to call them that we want

to give back the tools that we

learned and share with

other people,

and that’s the beauty

of these types.

Tiffany, you’re an inspiration,

and thank you so much

for your time today.

Thank you. Gael, what an honor.



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About the Panel

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog The Better Hearing Consumer, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss“. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Tiffany Storrs is a tri-lingual actress, author, and award-winning hearing health advocate. Tiffany inspires and disrupts mainstream perceptions of hearing loss in her personal story about her hearing loss journey, Adaptability. 

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