Bonnie C. was born with Treacher Collins syndrome. Through her own tenacity, Bonnie overcame many challenges life gave to her and found her own way. One day, when getting a routine hearing checkup, Bonnie learned about the Baha® System, and a new world of sound opened to her:

“I was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, which means my cranial and facial features were not fully developed, and I have no ear canals or external ears. Doctors and specialists said that I was deaf and recommended sending me to a deaf school, but my foster mother proved to the doctors that I could hear.

In the doctor’s office, I was seated in a big armchair facing the doctor. My foster mom, seated behind me, said in a whispering voice, “Give mommy a big hug.” I heard that, got up, turned around toward my foster mom and put my arms around her neck. The doctor’s mouth flew open; he couldn’t believe it. I was about 4 or 5 years old at that time. I have a good hearing nerve, which allows for good bone conduction, and I started wearing a bone conduction body aid with a cross over band.

Throughout schooling, I was in special education and regular classes. It was a challenge for me since I looked different, wore glasses and wore hearing devices. I managed to get through every day until the day I graduated, which felt that I had finally climbed over a big wall.

After I graduated from high school, I held several jobs. One job I had was working on converter repairs for cable TV. In a short period, I became a supervisor, answered phone calls and was the delivery driver. Phone calls were a challenge to answer and listen for me, but I got by. I held that job about ten years but still never felt my hearing was balanced.

Through my medical plan, I go in for routine hearing tests every four or five years. In 2007 when I went in for the checkup, my doctor and audiology specialist wanted me to try a new device, the Baha Sound Processor. I tried it on the Baha Softband. I was amazed how the sounds came through the Baha! I had never heard the noises made by pencils and paper when writing. When the door was shut, I could hear people talking down the hall. I was awestruck.

I learned I was a candidate for getting the full Baha System and advocated to get two, so I could finally balance my hearing.

Later in 2007, I received the Baha Connect System. I was so happy to hear more new sounds that I had never heard. I felt normal to be able to hear everything. Early one morning outside in the yard at my parents’ home in San Leandro, I could hear the foghorns on the bay! I am amazed how this tiny bone conduction device can bring so many sounds to me.

In September 2013, I was fitted with prosthetic ears and was finally able to wear my glasses properly. Now I really feel like a normal person.

I enjoy so much now. I’ve been a school bus driver for the last 17 years, and when I got my Baha System I could hear the students, all of them, two or three conversations that were going on at the same time while even being able to pinpoint who was talking.

I love my job, especially working with the special needs students because I’ve been in their shoes. It’s a challenge for these children to learn, and I give them love and attention.

I enjoy talking to people and am very active in social settings. I belong to the Mineral and Gem Society of Castro Valley where I have been a member since 1966, and now I am president of the club. I belong to Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, and I am the sound tech for worship service.

I use the True WirelessTM Mini Microphone on the school bus and at church. When I drive the bus, the Mini Mic helps me hear the teachers and give better directions, especially when I do field trips. The sound is clearer and much more sharp for me with my Baha Sound Processor. I don’t have to ask anyone to repeat questions anymore.

At church, I use the Mini Mic on the mixer board to listen to detail sounds, transmitting sound from the mixer board through the Mini Mic to my Baha Sound Processor. I can pick up the sounds without using the head set, which never worked for me.

I will be 65 years old this year and am able to fully live all aspects of my life thanks to my Baha System.”

To learn more about the Baha System for you or a loved one, click here.

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.