For some people, hearing loss is a gradual change that spans decades. For others, it happens overnight.
Meet Bob, whose experience falls into the second category. Over twelve years ago, Bob woke up one day to discover that he had suddenly and unexplainably lost the hearing in his left ear. That’s when Bob started his Baha System journey.
Bob’s Hearing Journey
“I went to bed one night and everything was normal,” he recalled. “I got up the next morning and my head was ringing. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I got up and drove off to work as normal. I put my phone up to my ear and it wasn’t working. I kept messing with it. I finally put it up to the other ear and it was working fine. That’s how I found out I had severe hearing loss.”
When Bob went to the doctors’ office, they told him that there was no concrete explanation for the sudden hearing loss in his left ear. They theorized that it was probably the result of a viral infection that passed through the inner ear, killed the nerves, and then went away.
On top of the hearing loss, Bob experienced severe tinnitus, a constant ringing in his ears, which he still struggles with. He described it as debilitating because the ringing makes it difficult to participate in loud events such as church worship services, eating at a crowded restaurant, or attending loud movies. Whenever the volume of his environment increases, so does the ringing.
Bob was prescribed steroids and he went back to the doctor for a follow-up appointment a few weeks later. The doctor told him there wasn’t anything else they could do, and Bob would have to learn to live with his hearing loss and tinnitus.
“I was not too happy with this prognosis,” Bob said. He asked for a second opinion, and was referred to another doctor who suggested he get hearing aids.
“I wore a hearing aid for five years and I hated it the whole time I had it,” Bob said. “The sound was amplified, but I couldn’t really comprehend what people were saying.”
He also found that when people saw the hearing aid, they would go to his bad side and try to talk loudly into his deaf ear, which made it more difficult to communicate with them.
Discovering the Baha System
Finally, over six years after he lost his hearing, Bob was referred to a doctor who knew “the latest and greatest” options for hearing loss treatment.
“I asked him if there was anything else they could do for me,” Bob said.
He remembers the doctor asking him, “Has anybody ever talked to you about a Baha®?”
After testing, Bob found out that he was the perfect candidate for the Baha Connect System. He had the surgery less than two weeks later, and two months after that he received the BP110 sound processor.
He later upgraded to the Baha 4, and then in January 2017 he upgraded to the Baha 5 processor.
Life with the Baha System
He said the Baha System has helped him a lot in his professional life. He works in construction, and he has frequent meetings where large groups of people gather at a round table. Before he got the Baha, he would try to turn his good ear toward whomever was speaking, which meant it was impossible to make eye contact and be fully present in the discussion.
“Now I can have a conversation with a person, look straight into their eyes, and talk to them face-to-face,” Bob said. “It’s a much more effective way of doing business. When I’m in a meeting I don’t have to turn my head to one side to hear the conversations— I can hear it from both sides. It’s awesome.”
Now, he volunteers with Cochlear and shares his story at local community chapter meetings because he wants to help others who are being held back by hearing loss.
“I was the perfect candidate (for a Baha), and the fact that no one told me for six years is just wrong,” he said. “I was blessed to be able to find an alternative that’s helped me get my life semi-normal again, so that’s why I volunteer. I love it.”
Bob remembers several instances where he was able to connect with people struggling with hearing loss and help them make the decision to get a Cochlear Implant or Baha System. Often the person will reach out to him afterwards and thank him for inspiring them to take the next step toward better sound.
“Things like that are very rewarding— it’s giving back to the Cochlear community that’s done something really great for me,” he said.
To find out if you are a candidate for a Cochlear Implant or Baha device, locate a hearing specialist near you. To learn more about becoming a Cochlear volunteer, click here.