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From Silence to the Silver Screen: Actress Tiffany Storrs and Her Unexpected Role as a Hearing Advocate

The actress in the upcoming film “Ghost of the Game” talks about how she lost her hearing after childbirth and how cochlear implants changed—and may have even saved—her life.
Tiffany Storrs Headshot

Actress Tiffany Storrs.

It was a cruel twist of fate. Two of the most joyous occasions in Tiffany Storrs’s life changed everything for her.  Within a few weeks of her daughter’s birth, Tiffany lost hearing in her left ear and then, shortly after the birth of her son, she lost hearing in her right ear. 

It was a medical mystery—a one-two punch that hit the young mother hard.  And yet, Tiffany found the strength and resilience to face and overcome the challenges. She refuses to be defined by her hearing loss because, she says, it represents only a small part of who she is.  After all she is an author, an actress, and an advocate. Oh, and she is tri-lingual: English, Spanish, and ASL. 

Tiffany Storrs La Red Carpet

Tiffany Storrs at a red carpet event in Los Angeles.

Tiffany’s story serves as an inspiration for anyone suffering from hearing loss or, for that matter, anyone facing adversity. It’s a story she details in her book, “Adaptability: A True Story About Transforming Pain Into Purpose”

Now, the next chapter in her remarkable life is unfolding. She’s co-starring in her first feature film, “Ghost of the Game,” about diversity and bringing cultures together through baseball, appearing in theaters in 2025.

Her work as a passionate advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing has earned her the honor of being named a HearStrong Champion. She also shares her unique perspective on how CI compares to normal hearing.

Tiffany spoke to HearingTracker from her home in Colorado.

Tiffany Storrs with HearStrong medal on a mountain bike

Storrs has been named a HearStrong Champion by the HearStrong Foundation, which celebrates individuals with hearing loss who are dedicated to inspiring and empowering others.

You had normal hearing until your thirties. What happened to change that?

Storrs: My husband and I struggled with infertility, so we did fertility treatments. They worked, and I had a beautiful daughter. For the first couple of weeks I could hear her, but then I couldn’t. I thought perhaps it was a bad sinus infection. In denial, I ignored it for a couple of months, but I realized I was missing phone calls and important things like feeding times. My husband, the poor guy, thought I was just trying to catch some extra sleep, but I just couldn’t hear the baby.

So, we both went to the audiologist who confirmed that I no longer had hearing in my left ear.  About 18 months later, my son was born, and shortly afterward, I lost the hearing in my right ear.

It’s something of a medical mystery. There’s no history of hearing loss in my family. The doctors termed it otosclerosis, calcification of the inner ear. But I believe there’s a correlation to the two pregnancies, possibly a hormone imbalance, and there have been several studies that have linked sudden hearing loss with fertility treatments.

People have asked me that if I knew I would lose my hearing, would I still have gone through with the treatments? There’s no question: 100% I would do it even if someone told me, yes, you’re going to have the family you always wanted but you’ll go deaf. I’d do it again because my children are my greatest blessing.

You have said that your hearing loss saved your life.

Storrs: For five years or so I managed to get by with hearing aids, but then it reached a point where I had to check to see if they were turned on. I had auditory fatigue; I was struggling. I couldn’t keep up, I couldn’t. The audiologist confirmed that my hearing was pretty much all gone.

I knew that cochlear implants were my only option. I had to accept that, but it wasn’t easy. It was a dance of denial; I’ve been up that river to grieving and then acceptance. I wanted to hear my children’s voices.

Tiffany Storrs In Classroom

Storrs helps out with ASL in a classroom.

They did one implant and then the other. But after the second operation, I woke in the ICU, not the recovery room, and I was complaining that my chest hurt. It turned out that during the surgery, the doctors detected a fatal heart arrhythmia. I had received 17 seconds of chest compressions, and I was in the ICU to be stabilized so I could receive a pacemaker.

I walked into the hospital for a cochlear implant hoping to improve my quality of life and hear my kids. I did walk out with the CI but also with a dual-chamber pacemaker that saved my life. So, I feel lucky—lucky to be resurrected if you will.

You had normal hearing up until your thirties, so you can make a good comparison between normal hearing and hearing through a CI.  How do they compare?

Storrs: Thank you for that question because it is different. I’ve learned that many people who receive CIs and then do hearing rehab have trouble using their implants because it’s so difficult. There was a moment after activation when I could hear what sounded like wind chimes in the background and then someone talking underwater.

But my audiologist said those wind chimes would go away as we tweaked things. With fine-tuning and customization, I can now differentiate between male and female voices and hear a dog or a cat. It’s a process that requires a mindset. You have to want to make it work and adjust.

I still go in for tweaks. It’s sounding more and more human-like, but it will never sound organically human because it’s electronic hearing. But it does work.

In fact, thanks to your CIs you are now working as an actress. How do you manage?

Storrs: I feel so lucky. I got my first speaking role and I am the co-star of a feature film called Ghost of the Game. It will be in theaters next year. It is a very dialogue-heavy role and I am proud to say that I could keep up. The producers and the crew were very supportive.

Bluetooth is also very helpful. I have a remote microphone that I use for conferences or meetings. When I am on set and the director is far away calling “action,” I am not going to hear that, so I clip my microphone on him and it makes life so much easier.

I am grateful that inclusivity is becoming such a trend in the media. I am so proud to say, “I am deaf, and I just made my first major motion picture film.”  So now that is my mission: to increase deaf representation in the media.

It’s important for me to say that my struggle with hearing loss is only one part of my life. It’s not my whole story, and I won’t be defined by it. I am excited about what lies ahead.

Digby Cook

Contributor

Digby Cook is a veteran journalist with a wide range of experience in television news, documentaries and newspapers. His interest in the science of hearing is both professional and personal.