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Eastenders couple Ben Mitchell (played by Max Bowden) and Callum Highway (Tony Clay) finally seemed to settle down earlier this year but were faced with a huge setback when the former suffered a significant loss of hearing during the boat crash back in March. However, when the BBC soap returns later this year and fans catch up with the pair once more, will they still be together or could Ben’s ongoing issues with his hearing loss affect their relationship further down the line?
When the soap went off-air back in June, Ben was still finding it hard to adjust to his new state of hearing.
He consistently hit out at loving boyfriend Callum, who continued to be determined to help Ben find an answer despite the latter’s anger at the situation.
But now, it seems as though Ben and Callum could end up at loggerheads if the former’s hearing operation fails to pay-off.
Ben was due to undergo the surgery days before the show went off-air but this had to be called off when he picked up a cold from his young daughter Lexi.
However, with the pair having spent all of the coronavirus lockdown period apart, they may well have trouble adjusting to the situation later this year.
Express.co.uk spoke exclusively to Francesca Oliver, who is an Audiology Specialist at Action on Hearing Loss, to find out what issues Ben may face in the future.
It was previously suggested the damage Ben had sustained in the accident was permanent as it only worsened in the weeks to follow.
Asked whether Ben would recover, she explained: “This depends on the type of hearing loss as a result of the head injury.
“Head injuries can cause damage to the structures in both the inner and middle ear.
“For example, if only part of the middle ear has been affected this can sometimes recover on its own or with surgery.
“If the structures in the inner ear have been damaged such as the cochlea (the organ of hearing) it is very unlikely Ben’s hearing would recover naturally.
“Trauma to these parts of the ear normally result in permanent hearing loss,” she added.
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Although there is a good chance Ben’s surgery will end up going to plan, the ordeal could end up driving a wedge between the two.
Indeed, if the surgery does fail to work, could Ben end up feeling he needs some time out with his relationship with Callum?
Their time apart may also have made communication between the pair more difficult and they may struggle to adjust to being back in each other’s company.
Ben has previously been seen on-screen becoming frustrated when he is unable to hear his friends and family.
Francesca added: “Ben has lived with hearing loss for most of life and has probably developed some coping strategies to help him communicate, such as making sure he is in the best position to hear people and making sure he can see their faces so he has access to important visual cues like facial expression and lipreading.
“However a sudden significant loss of hearing and the impacts that can have on communicating should not be underestimated,” she noted.
If Ben gets the news his hearing won’t ever recover and his subsequent operation fails to have a significant positive impact, there could be heartbreak ahead.
Even though Callum has shown patience adjusting to Ben’s new way of life, the pair will be sure to find the reality of the situation increasingly difficult.
Will the much-loved duo manage to work through the new changes together or will they decide to call it a day in the coming months?
EastEnders returns later this year to BBC One.
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