Michelle L. left her diminishing hearing untreated for many years after a perforated eardrum never completely healed when she was a child. It wasn’t until her child began to battle hearing loss did it move her to take action on her own. After trialing a Cochlear™ Baha® Sound Processor, Michelle awakened to the plethora of sounds around her that she had lost. Now, she is an active Cochlear volunteer, helping others in similar situations to her own:
“I am not a typical case for a person with a hearing loss. I had hearing issues as a child due to a perforated eardrum that never healed and left behind scar tissue. As a child, my hearing loss was likely mild. I only know this because I remember rolling on my left side trying to sleep and the sounds outside were not as loud.
My first attempt to look into my hearing was as an adult in my early 20s. Without even looking in my ears, my doctor at the time stated I needed surgery. This really scared me, so I walked out and never followed up with him. It was not until 1993, after being laid off from work, that I had my perforated eardrum repaired. At that point, there was already damage to my middle ear bones, but I did nothing at the time to correct it.
Fast forward to 1997; I had a beautiful baby girl that we discovered had a bilateral hearing loss. With her experiences in school and needing to work with school officials on her IEP and 504 processes, I began to learn more about hearing loss and began to question my own hearing. I wondered if it was too late for me to explore ways to improve my own hearing.
My journey to treating my hearing loss
Over time, things would happen that would prompt me to question my own ability to hear. For example, when my husband would ask me how things sounded on our home theater surround sound system, I had no idea to what he was referring. In 2012, I began a personal journey to learn what I could do to address my hearing issues. I went to have my hearing tested, and on my right side, I found that my hearing had deteriorated to a severe level. In 2013, 20 years after my first surgery, I had my eardrum repaired for the second time. There was very little hope to restore my hearing to normal levels, but it was worth a chance. This is when I first learned of the Cochlear™ Baha® System, a bone conduction implant system that could treat my hearing loss.
My doctor and audiologist tested a Baha Sound Processor on my right side, and I was dumbfounded as to how much it improved my hearing. I could hear sounds by simply having a device touching my head! At this point, I was given the option of trying to reconstruct my middle ear and maybe gain hearing back, or instead, I could consider the Baha System. I chose the Baha System, and in February 2014, I had surgery to install an abutment. I was then fitted in April of that year with the new Baha® 5 Sound Processor.
Hearing rarely noticed noises
As I walked out of the doctor’s office building that day, I could hear the bells that came from a downtown church. I was so amazed! I could also hear the birds singing on a beautiful spring day; something that I rarely noticed before. Now, I even have a better idea of what surround sound is like when watching a movie.
One advantage about the Baha System that I love is I can control it with my iPhone®. Even though I have the Cochlear™ True Wireless™ Phone Clip, my phone is what I mainly use to control my Baha 5 Sound Processor because of the direct connection. Three clicks of my home button and I can access controls for volume, streaming and live speak. When I use my True Wireless Mini Mic 2+, I can select the streaming setting and I am ready to go.
Helping others on this journey
Is my hearing perfectly normal again? Well, no, but I cannot remember what normal hearing was originally like! I am happy for the improvement, so for me, this has become my new normal.
I have embraced this experience. Since then, I have joined the Hearing Loss Association of America and work as a volunteer for Cochlear. I enjoy connecting with others with similar experiences. Throughout this experience, I have met so many people with similar experiences, which makes me feel like I am not alone in this journey.”