By Dr. William M. Luxford, MD
2021 will mark my 40th year as an associate of the House Ear Clinic. My interest in problems with hearing began years before my House fellowship. My mother became severely hearing impaired in the first few years after her birth in 1922. The cause of her impairment was never known. Through the dedication of her parents, her therapist Mrs. Rogers, and my mother’s own hard work, she became an oral deaf individual using speech reading and her voice rather than sign language to communicate.
While I was in medical school in the early 1970s, a Los Angeles Times article about William House’s pioneering work with the cochlear implant fortified my interest in the ear and my desire to become an Otolaryngology resident. I was fortunate to have been accepted as a House fellow in July 1980 following my ENT residency at USC-LAC Medical Center. At that time, the House Ear Clinic and the House Institute Foundation were known as the Otologic Medical Group and the Ear Research Institute. Before text messaging, OMG had quite a different meaning.
My fellowship was only one year rather than the two years it is today. When I began my fellowship, the faculty included the original four members of the House group: Dr. Howard House, his half-brother Dr. William House, Dr. James Sheehy, and Dr. Fred Linthicum, Jr. Also on the faculty were Dr. Derald Brackmann, Dr. John House (Howard House’s son), Dr. Antonio de la Cruz, Dr. Ralph Nelson, and Dr. Jerald Robinson.
I arrived at the right place at the right time. Neurotology was in its formative years, and I had the opportunity to learn from individuals who, through their clinical practice and research, managed to shape the field of hearing health. During my fellowship year, I learned not only about the science of evaluating and treating patients with hearing, balance, and facial nerve problems but also how to elevate hearing science to an art.