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Having a Doctor that Listens...

Dear Tampa Bay Hearing & Balance Center,

A couple of reasons for my letter...

First, Dr Bartels hello and a million thanks 20 years later!!! In 1988 you performed what you formerly referred to as a Radical Mastoidectomy w/ Temporal Flap.  Your surgery ended a lifetime of messy ear infections and mind-numbing earaches.  On a side note, I still get a kick out of telling people my ear is sewn closed.  I'll never forget how you treated me and my parents who went to great lengths to find me the best care for my chronic ear trouble.

While I have enjoyed 20 years without any trouble in that ear, I have struggled with symptoms in the remaining ear.  Local ENT's have offered psychiatric referrals, anti-depressants or simply dismissed me as being "dramatic".

Finally, after a lot of years (nineteen to be exact), I contacted your office and explained that I was a patient in 1988 and would like to see you ASAP.  It was explained to me that you didn't have any immediate openings but that there was another doctor within the practice.  My initial response was "NO THANK YOU!!" Fortunately for me, the person on the phone took the time to talk with me about Dr Danner and how particular you were when recruiting for a doctor to join your practice.  Knowing I had visited most of the ENT's in my area, I decided to see Dr Danner.

I came to your center in July and had an extensive and thorough history taken; hearing and balance tests, ect. Then it was time to meet with Dr Danner.  As my appointment came to an end I started to think "What if he tells me I am imagining these symptoms" or "There's nothing to explain this."  It was precisely that moment that he said, "You have a textbook case of Ménière's Disease."  I will never forget what it felt like to know I had found the right person to help me - close attention was paid to my description of the symptoms, someone finally believed me and took the time to explain everything in a way that made sense to me.

So, my second reason for writing you is to thank you for bringing Dr Danner into your practice!!!

The Tampa Bay Hearing & Balance Center, you and Dr Danner are the epitome of what all healthcare should be.  Although I know that for Ménière's sufferers; there really isn't any cure and with my case I am somewhat limited with treatment options having only one hearing ear - having a doctor that that listens, answers questions and appears to be genuinely interested is huge!  Dr Danner has done an exceptional job explaining and making clear the options that are there for me.

I may never be able to adequately express my gratitude or tell you how much it means to be under the care of The Tampa Bay Hearing & Balance center.  I would be honored if you would share my letter, as you have so many that I've read in your waiting room.  Dr Bartels, you and Dr Danner are truly doing God's work and with the bed-side manner and compassion of angels.

Forever grateful to you both,


Free of Ménière's Disease

Dear Dr Bartels,

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for helping me to be free of Ménière's Disease, which made me miserable for so many years.  Most of my time was spent in bed due to vertigo and its side effects.

I feel God sent me to you and you worked a miracle.  Everyone said there was no cure for this.  Now I am able to go to Church and do the many things I was unable to do and to enjoy life more at 84 years of age.

I wish I could do more to thank you. I will always remember you in my prayers that you have good health, happiness, and success.



Vertigo Driving Me Crazy

Dr Danner,

I really appreciated you taking the time to answer all my questions in my email.  This vertigo can drive a person crazy.  See you next visit.


Acoustic Neuroma

Dr Bartels and Staff,

Thank you Dr Bartels for the wonderful work you did in removing the acoustic neuroma tumor.  I'm so grateful I was sent to such a good doctor and I'm so thankful that I don't have any major side effects from the surgery.

The ICU gave me excellent care.  It was great to be in a hospital, where I was so closely observed after surgery.  Also I had wonderful care on the 9th floor.  The staff was all very kind and helpful. So I have to say Tampa General Hospital was an excellent hospital.

Best regards,


Flying in Comfort

Dear Dr Danner,

The tubes allowed me to fly in perfect comfort without anxiety - thank you for assuring that I was able to arrive at my son's wedding without additional ear problems.  The tubes have not eliminated most of my discomfort but I am greatful for what they did do!  See you next vist.

Best regards,


Vestibular Schwannoma

Dear Dr Bartels,

I wan to express my sincere gratitude to you for your excellent care during my recent treatment for a vestibular schwannoma.  I have been an RN for 28 years so when I was diagnosed I began to ask among my colleagues for the name of a surgeon.  My husband and I also researched on the Internet to learn all we could about schwannomas and skull based tumors.  You were highly recommended to me by another health care professional who was also a patient.

As soon as we met you we were impressed with your focus, warmth, knowledge and caring.  We immediately knew we had made the right choice.  Throughout my hospitalization you always responded to questions and problems in a timely manner and my husband and family consistently felt secure.

I would like to mention another aspect of my care that I think could be helpful to other patients.  I had 6 weeks from the time of my diagnosis to the date of surgery.  I knew I wanted to prepare physically, emotionally and spiritually to optimize my chances for a positive outcome.  I have witnessed many patients who have had a positive effect on their illness by taking an active role in self-care.

With the support and encouragement of my husband, I was able to take a leave of absence from work and began daily yoga and meditation.  I read books and listened to tapes on healing and spirituality.  I also let it be known that all prayers were welcome.  I'm not active in any organized religion but the response was tremendous.  By the time the date of my surgery arrived, I felt calm and confident.

As disappointing as it was to be given this diagnosis, it has resulted in some very positive changes in my life.  That would no have been possible without your skilled and compassionate care.  Thank you for helping me.

Yours truly,


Your Help Has Meant So Much

Dear Dr Bartels,

I thank God for instilling in me a new life through your skillful hands.  I think of the circumstances under which we met, and I can't help but to see God's grace in my life, and in my family.

May the Lord bless you and your family.  I can't thank you enough for your warmth, assurance, and care.

In Christ,



Dear Dr Bartels,

Three weeks ago you performed another one of your "miracles" and removed a large acoustic neuroma from the base of my wife's brain.  The words "thank you" seem so weak and inadequate to express our complex feelings of good fortune, gratitude, and of course relief for the successful conclusion of this surgery.

So far, my wife has experienced no facial weakness, her balance is as good as it always was (bearing in mind that she is a self-proclaimed "klutz" from girlhood) and her recovery to us has been quite remarkable.

My wife was terrified going into this surgery, but there is no doubt that your kindness and concern during our pre-surgery meetings, and your quiet confidence and self-assurance, helped to soften her natural fears and apprehensions.  Your team colleagues independently assured us that you were among the best in this surgical field, and we are certainly believers.  Beyond that, we are grateful and thankful to your wonderful office staff as well. Without exception, they reached out to my wife and provided warmth and encouragement when it was desperately needed.  This concern was so greatly appreciated.

We just want you to know that, under the circumstances, we consider ourselves most fortunate that we ended up in your hands (quite literally).  We understood that there were no guarantees, but we also knew that we were dealing with likelihoods that could only be improved by your experience, and by the professionalism and caring which was evident.  The result only confirms our faith.

We remain forever indebted to you.  If we can provide encouragement to others (to future terrified) facing this same surgery we stand ready to serve.  Our very best wishes for the fabulous work that you do.

Yours most gratefully,


The Day My Life Was Changed

"It's just oxygen, don't worry!" were the last five words I heard before I went under to have my whole world changed.  I woke up sever hours later in the most excruciating pain of my life, but with a new meaning of, "I can hearing you loud and clear!"  I had just had my world changed, in many ways.

From the time I was a month old, I have been shuttled to doctors of every king.  One of the endless number of doctors' names I have long forgotten discovered that my left ear canal was full of bone.  Back in those days, most doctors told my parents, "If it is not life threatening, you should just wait until she is older to make her own decision about having it corrected."  I cannot tell you the hundreds of times I have heard that in my life, and every time I felt the same way.  I would not be here wasting my parents, yours, or my time on this if I did not plan on really having it done!  Eighty percent of the doctors I have encountered have been eye doctors, but two were just for the ear that had been just hanging on the side of my face unusable for seventeen years.  The doctor that I saw in ... (that I wish was just another name on the list of doctor names I have forgotten) gave me two options.  That was the first time I remember there was actually something they could do to fix my ear.  Both would be life changing but which one was better for me?  Drilling a hole in the side of my head or sticking a screw in, then after five months of recovery attach a box and hear better than most Americans?  Or, go see two specialists in Tampa who could possible drill the bone out, reconstruct my canal, and give me a new ear drum?  What were the risks I was facing with both?  What would be the difference in my actual hearing abilities?  I felt like I was on cloud nine.  Drilling the bone out?  What a splendid idea.  No ugly box and screw in my head for the next seventy years?  With those options, my choice was made a little easier.  Of course, unnamed doctor busted my new found excitement with the risks and complications: brain fluid drainage, canal collapsing, and about a hundred other risks that seemed to be coming out like the word vomit. I finally decided to talk all those other doctors advice and wait, weigh my options, and ask my family for their opinions. In August, I decided I was finally ready to go through with the surgery.  The only problem was, unnamed doctor lost his surgical privileges in my county of residence, and I was not willing to wait for his partner to get approved by my insurance.  So the road I had not even considered giving the slightest possibility looked like my only hope.

A month later, my dad and I made the two hour and twenty minute, 152.37 mile drive to Tampa General Hospital on November 2 to meet Dr Loren Bartels.  That day was the first time I would meet the man that would change my life, in the elevator on the ride up to his office.  He would end up being the one to give me the gift of being able to hear like everyone else, to have the option of having people walk on my left side without pretending to hear them, or have it be a black hole of secrets that many people have lost inside.  Within a week, my dad had scheduled my surgery for exactly one month later.  The thirty day wait felt like it was my arch nemesis that could never be defeated.  I felt overwhelmed and had the feeling that I was having to wade through too many things than I could handle.  Two trips up to Tampa General with my dad in the days before my surgery felt as if I was making a cross country trip every time I had to get in the car at 5:30 in the morning.  Ever hear, "Wow, you look like you just got hit by a truck?"  Those are the exact words I would use to explain how I felt walking into TGH on the bone chilling morning of December 10th.  I knew that within a few short hours I would be under the microscope of Dr Bartels.  The nerves were more than present and the inevitable pee test was lurking in the back of my head since they had not even ushered a needle within five hundred feet of me the day before, which was full of tests.  The time seemed to drag by like the feeling I used to get when I was five and had to go to sleep on Christmas Eve after tracking Santa on the computer with my family.  Finally, 10:30 am made it's well anticipated and anxiously awaited arrival, and it was my turn to be wheeled into the OR # 7!

Waking up, I felt like Wonder Woman with bionic hearing. If someone across the room had dropped a pin, it would have sounded like a crash of thunder in my ear.  Knowing that I would be waking in indescribable pain, my mom and younger sister purchased me the most adorable talking bear.  The only problem was, the volume of his cute and cuddle voice made my brain shake! After a full, dragged on week of recovery my newly constructed eardrum was finally ready to hear that cuddly brown bear's voice after I clapped his hands and made my mom smile.

Having to wait two weeks to make that two hour and twenty seven minute drive again it felt like my surgery day all over again.  Only this time, I would be graced with the exact words, "Your recovery is going better than I hoped."

I want to thank you Dr Bartels, from the bottom of my heart for giving me the gift of hearing.  Though, it is really loud at times.  I can never truly thank you enough!



BAHA Solution

Dear Dr Bartels,

Perhaps my most important visit to see you was in your Spring Hill office.  After a hearing test you told me I had a unilateral conductive hearing loss and that the only solution was a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid.

You very patiently took as much time as needed to explain the process and thoroughly answer my many (and there were many) questions.  I will admit that the idea of letting you drill a hole in my head and implant a titanium abutment was a little foreign as well as somewhat disconcerting.  You kindly said that I could schedule an appointment for the surgery by calling your  Tampa office directly.  After considering the process for the hour it took me to drive home, I decided I had total confidence in you and I scheduled my surgery immediately.

January 18 was the big day and again, your wonderful attitude and obvious competence made me quiet comfortable with the procedure.  Actually, in retrospect, the only really unpleasant part of the entire time was wearing the awful huge white uncomfortable "bandage".  I think those might have been the longest 8 days I can remember.

The audiologist fitted my Ponto Pro in March and I couldn't be happier with the results.  I have even gotten past the "hole in the head" and "screw loose" joking period by family and good friends.  I have named "her" Gracie (for Amazing Grace) since the difference in my daily life is amazing.  You and your entire staff are to be congratulated on your professional, care hearing center.  Thank you all.