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.”