Name: Monica Pasqualino
University: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Major: Human Nutrition
Processor: Baha® 5, unilateral
Meet Monica, a 2018 Anders Tjellström Scholarship winner!
When Monica was 25 she was diagnosed with otosclerosis, an inherited disorder that affects the middle and inner ear and often results in hearing loss. She had a stapedectomy on one side but it failed, causing her to lose her hearing in that ear.
Monica wore hearing aids for a while, but she had difficulty hearing and communicating with people. She found out about the Cochlear™ Baha® System through Johns Hopkins University and decided to see if it would work for her.
“I went with my husband to the audiologist and tried it on, and it was amazing because I was walking a couple of feet in front of him, he was talking softly, and I could still hear him. That’s when I realized I had to get a Baha,” Monica said.
She was implanted on the left side in May 2017.
“The whole process went really well,” she recalled. “I really liked my doctor and the nurses, the surgery went well, and recovery was no problem. I think I had maybe a little bit of a headache, but I was back in school the next day.”
Monica said that the sudden influx of sound took some getting used to, but now she loves it.
“Once I had it on, everything seemed very loud to me, kind of overwhelming,” she said. “The audiologist said that was normal and with time I would get used to it. Now I feel really used to it and I’m really happy with it. It’s really just changed my life, especially with school and work.”
Monica is currently a second-year doctoral student in the Human Nutrition program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Her area of focus is on improving young infant and young child feeding practices.
“In a lot of developing countries, often children and women are the most vulnerable,” Monica said. “Unfortunately, when food is not that available, the most nutrient-dense food is usually given to adult men. Children and women have more nutritional requirements, they don’t get them, which results in poor health and nutrition outcomes.”
She said food insecurity is a very complex and difficult problem, but she is focused on methods that make a tangible impact.
“My goal is to be able to conduct research in developing countries in order to figure out how we can create programs that will encourage households to change their behaviors, so those nutrient-dense foods are given to children,” she said.
Monica said that having a Baha sound processor has improved her relationships with friends and family, as well as people she meets through school and work.
“It was such a relief for me, academically and professionally, because I was able to communicate with my professors and peers without having to worry about missing something that was said,” she said.
Monica said she is inspired by her mom, who raised her as a single mother.
“When I was younger it was difficult at times, but she always did everything possible to make sure I had everything that I needed,” Monica said. “She has supported me 100 percent in all of my goals, even when I leave her and live in faraway countries.”
Monica’s advice for individuals with hearing loss is to do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
“It’s so important to take control of your health and learn as much as you can about what’s going on, so you know the right questions to ask the doctor,” she said. “Ask questions and don’t hold back — it’s your body and your health.”
The Anders Tjellström Scholarship is a unique award open to Baha® System recipients. It honors academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to the Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity.