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Shannon S. battled hearing loss her whole life due to constant middle ear issues. After overcoming multiple surgeries, hearing aids that never gave her much benefit and misinformation from a doctor, Shannon finally learned from a new doctor that the Baha® System would provide her access to clear sound she needed. Find out how the Baha® Attract System with the Baha® 5 Sound Processor has given Shannon life in full volume now: 

Woman with the Baha System“I am a 34 year old woman who has been living with the Baha System for a little over a year now.

I am hard of hearing unilaterally on my left side, born, unfortunately, without a middle ear (the bones that help to generate sound). Always dependent on my right ear to get me by, I thought I had done just fine functioning in society like everyone else.

Then in 8th grade during a soccer game, being hit in the head by either the ball or another girl’s head ruptured the eardrum of my good ear. Believing I had gone deaf, I had gone into a depression until surgery to repair it. It left my good ear a little weaker than had been, but still I believed I would be fine.

I have had 11 (now with the Baha implant 12) ear surgeries in my life. I have had tubes put in my ears twice (once as an adult, and oh my gosh I understand why they put kids to sleep for it!), numerous attempts to rebuild the middle ear to help my hearing, rebuild the ruptured eardrum, and again to remove a cholesteatoma. I have had a doctor paralyze half of my face by trying to move a nerve while repairing my ear (unfortunately, my 4th or 5th grade class picture was due to be taken shortly after that). I have had so many ear infections that I have become practically a toddler again when it comes to anything with my ears, and I feel like my face never fully recovered from that surgery.

Due to vanity, I didn’t get my first behind-the-ear hearing until I was 22. I was always so paranoid that people were looking at me and judging me for my hearing aid, so I didn’t like to wear it a lot. Plus, I didn’t feel like it made THAT much of a difference to sound so it didn’t feel like much of a loss if I forgot to put it on some days. Due to the many surgeries I have had, my ear canal is also bigger on my left side. The audiologist made several molds for me to use for my hearing aid, but when the weather would change so did the shape of molds so they never lasted long in my ears.

A few years later, I remember the audiologist telling me I was a good candidate for the Baha Implant System, and in my excitement, I scheduled the surgery right then and there. Having only one ear doctor in my area that I fully trusted, I gave him a call to get his opinion on the surgery. It was about a two-minute call where he told me that based on my history and all the infections I get, he didn’t recommend it. ‘What if you get a bone infection? You shouldn’t do it.’ I got off the phone and immediately cancelled the surgery; as I said, he was the only doctor I had ever trusted!

About 10 years later, I finally found a new doctor in a new city I lived that I fully trusted with my ears. He told me I was a perfect candidate for the Baha System and scheduled me an appointment with his office’s audiologist.

I happened to be sick the day I went for my consultation, which meant I couldn’t hear out of my good ear. I went into her office upset that I wasn’t going to get much out of this consult because I could barely hear her. Then, she put a Baha® Softband with the Baha 5 Sound Processor on my head. In my 10-minute consult, I was completely hooked. I was depressed when she turned off the Baha Sound Processor at the end of the consult because I was suddenly going back to hearing nothing again. I was amazed that I was hearing everything she said during that appointment with my ‘bad ear.’ I had them submit a prior authorization request for the procedure to my insurance and waited anxiously for the response.

Woman with hearing loss from middle ear issuesOnce finally approved, I set up everything for work and the hospital. I had no idea what to expect from the surgery and recovery process so I took a month off, expecting it to be like all of my other surgeries. I was actually in recovery longer than I was under for, and I found myself in far less pain than I had anticipated!

I had my post-op about a week later, and I was told that I could finally wash my hair and, if I wanted, go back to work. I was impressed with how little recovery time I needed, and I couldn’t wait for my 3 months of healing before I could get the actual Baha itself.

I decided on the Baha Attract System, or abutment, thinking it would be best and more secure with the job field I’m trying to get into (zoo keeping), and so I needed three months to allow the skull to heal around the abutment.

When I finally got my Baha 5 Sound Processor, I could not stop crying. I was hearing sounds I had never heard, sounds that for 33 years had NEVER sounded like that before! I was terrified in parking lots, I could hear the cars, but had absolutely no idea for how close they were to me. Even to this day, I still don’t have a good ‘depth perception’ when it comes to sounds, but I can hear them now!

I have loved being able to hear in surround sound, but because I have spent 33 years of my life adjusting to life with only half the volume. It still sometimes get to be too much for me. Luckily, Cochlear has come up with the Baha® Smart App*, and I can control the volume or mute sounds when it gets to be more than I can handle. I chose the CochlearTM True WirelessTM Mini Microphone accessory to go along with my Baha System. I use it most when I’m out with friends in a crowded location, and I’ll have them clip it on to their shirt so I can hear and focus on them better.

I love going to movies, and I can’t believe how much I missed out watching them before my Baha.

I currently work in a hospital and all my coworkers (especially in other departments) love to ask me questions about my Baha and learn about it, and I love talking about it. I have now had the opportunity to share with two other hard of hearing individuals all the benefits of the Baha. I even carry the testing rod around with me so I can let others try it and have the opportunity to hear as I do. It was such an eye opener and life changing event for those hard of hearing individuals that they themselves are scheduling consults with audiologists to see what their options are.”

If you are struggling with middle ear issues and need access to better hearing, click here to learn more about the Baha System.

*The Baha 5 Smart App works together with all Cochlear Baha 5 Sound Processors. It is verified on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch running iOS 9.1 and Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7 running Android OS 5.0 Lollipop. For more detailed device compatibility see the Baha 5 Smart App description on App Store or Google Play.
Renee Oehlerking
Renee Oehlerking is the Public Relations Manager at Cochlear Americas where she is responsible for the region’s public relations and consumer marketing social media. Renee enjoys uncovering, telling and showcasing the inspiring stories of hearing implant recipients. As a recent transplant to Denver, Colorado, Renee enjoys exploring all that the state has to offer outdoors.