Art Paley is hearing in stereo again, thanks to the generosity of a Langley company.
Late last week, Fraser Valley Beltone Hearing Centre owner Scott Hyde presented 68-year-old Paley with the gift of hearing.
Paley suffers from severe hearing loss and does not have the financial means to purchase good aids.
Paley has been a patient of Hyde’s since January 2012.
After Paley lost his right hearing aid in a deadly April 11 apartment fire in Langley City, Hyde heard his story and knew he had to help his patient no matter what.
So, Hyde and the staff at Fraser Valley Beltone presented Paley with a brand-new hearing aid free of charge.
“He has no means of buying himself a new (hearing aid) so we thought, ‘Why not? We’ll just do it,’” Hyde said.
Paley was extremely grateful for the donation.
“You have no idea how nice that will be,” he said. “When you only have one hearing aid, you have no bounds and you keep falling, and 70-year-old bones don’t like being smashed on the sidewalk. I greatly appreciate it; you have no idea how thankful I am. It’s just unbelievable.”
Having just one hearing aid messes with his equilibrium, Paley explained. “For the first four or five days that I didn’t have it (the hearing aid) I was falling down all the time and I’ve got great balance.”
Woke up in hospital
When the massive fire broke out in the middle of the night in the building where Paley lives, he didn’t hear the commotion at first, but somehow woke up and his apartment was filled with smoke.
“It was about one o’clock,” Paley recalled on May 11, the one-month anniversary of the fire. “I woke up coughing and hacking and I turned on the lights and I couldn’t see anything. I grabbed the hearing aids and stuck them in, and the alarms were going off. The fire was out by then, it was just that I slept through it. A fireman grabbed me and hauled me down the hall and asked ‘What are you doing?’ I said ‘I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t hear it.’”
Paley said there was no smoke in the hallways but his room was full of smoke, “because the fire came around over the roof into like a vortex around my neighbour’s suite and into mine.”
“So, when I turned on the lights, I couldn’t see anything but I saw clear air down on the floor. So, I hit the deck. I then gathered up a pair of jeans and other things and got out the door.”
Later, he went for a walk and passed out due to smoke inhalation and was found by emergency personnel.
“When I started moving around, there was so much carbon monoxide in my blood there was no room for oxygen, that when I started exercising…, the lights went out,” Paley said. “I fell down on the street, and that was that.”
Paley woke up in the hospital with all sorts of tubes and needles coming out of him.
That’s when he noticed that his right hearing aid was missing .
The night of the fire is imprinted in Paley’s memory.
Residents of the Birch building of the Rainbow Lodge, which is operated by the Langley Lions near 203 Street and 54 Avenue said the alarm went off around 12:30 a.m.
More than 30 Langley City Fire and Township firefighters battled the blaze. Langley City Fire Rescue acting assistant chief Scott Kennedy said at one point, more than 200 people were evacuated because the fire alarm activates in two other buildings that are connected.
Paley’s suite is on the third floor, “across the hall” from the person who died in the fire.
“I helped him to the doctor’s that day,” Paley said, of the man who died. “He fell in his kitchen and hurt his back really bad so I helped him down to the doctor’s. I knew him for four years. He was a great guy… so… yeah.”