Jean Rothenberg played a big part in how I practice audiology. I first learned about Mrs. Rothenberg when I was awarded the "Jean Rothenberg Scholarship" in 1993 at the University of Cincinnati. I thanked her, and she invited me to her home and told me she would teach me what she knew. She told me to bring a notebook because she was only going to tell me once.
What she taught me about hearing loss was something I could not have learned from a book.
She shared with me first hand what living with a hearing loss was like. She shared with me what helped her and what did not. She taught me how to help patients advocate for themselves. This, I could not have learned in graduate school.
I was nervous the first time I went to her house. That didn't last long. After meeting her husband, Bob, she said "I bet you are wondering if we still do it." I was shocked because I had never heard an 84-year-old woman talk like that and embarassed because that's exactly what my young 24-year-old mind was thinking. She said "Of course we do! We're human. We're married. And we love each other." She broke the ice and I immediately felt comfortable with her.
I felt no generation gaps.
We have written and emailed over the years. I think of her as I treat my patients and students with hearing loss and hope that I have made her proud. When working with an adult or student with hearing loss who says "You don't know what it's like…", I find myself saying "No, I don't. But let me tell you about my dear friend Jean Rothenberg…."