When chronic ear infections led to hearing loss at an early age, Shelley found herself feeling isolated from the world around her. When she received the Cochlear™ Osia® System, she regained the joy of sound and much of the socialization that she had missed out on for many years.

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“As the world clambered to adjust to a new way of life due to the COVID pandemic, I began my journey adjusting to hearing for the first time in ‘surround sound’ with the assistance of the Osia System.

Chronic childhood ear infections and hearing loss

Shelley with her Osia SystemMy moderately severe conductive hearing loss started as a child due to chronic ear infections in my right ear. In the early 1990s as a teen, I underwent a tympanoplasty with the hopes I would regain the lost hearing. However, a month following surgery, I was saddened when informed by the surgeon that my body did not accept the bones, and the grafting of the eardrum failed. During the visit, I was informed there was nothing further to be done that could help me. I left the office with the words, ‘Just keep your ear dry and wear earplugs in the water. Your left ear compensates for the lack of hearing from your right ear.’ Throughout my childhood, being aided (whether traditional or a bone anchored) was never discussed or mentioned by any specialists.

During my teens and as I entered into adulthood, being hard of hearing was quite difficult and embarrassing. Being in group settings, I would just smile and nod in agreement with the conversations though all the while knowing I missed half of what was said. This can take quite a toll on your self-esteem to the point where you isolate yourself. I would never freely or openly be honest about the degree of my disability as it was embarrassing to not be ‘normal.’ This led to me being introverted. Two years ago, I decided to make my hearing health a priority and to try to get back to living a normal life where I interacted more with others.

My Osia System journey

Shelley, who uses the Osia SystemIn 2019, I began to seek a new ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT). I was referred to an ENT who specialized in special cases such as mine. This new ENT became excited with the prospect of working on my ear to get it as ‘normal’ as possible. She advised that I should try the tympanoplasty once more and mentioned several devices by Cochlear like the Cochlear Baha® System and the other being the Cochlear Osia System.

I decided to proceed with the tympanoplasty all the while knowing that I may still need a medical device to aid with hearing. In the fall of 2020, I underwent a successful tympanoplasty surgery. However, the damage to the middle ear was so severe that reconstruction of the ossicles chain would not be possible. I had a follow up just days prior to the nation-wide lock down from COVID where we once again discussed the Osia System as it had just been approved by the FDA. I had chosen to proceed with the Cochlear Osia System as it was compatible with the smart technology I currently use, and it was the newest technology on the market. I also like that it did not have an abutment like other bone-anchored hearing devices, and I could wirelessly stream to the Osia Sound Processor.

As the story goes with the COVID lock down, elective surgeries were put on hold. I had to wait until mid-July when I saw my surgeon once again and was able to schedule surgery. On August 3, 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, I underwent implantation surgery. A month later, the external sound processor was activated and programmed for my preferences. Activation on September 2, 2020 was an emotional day and felt like an amazing awaking of hearing in both ears. Hearing seemed so bizarre and loud at first.  As I have adjusted to hearing in both ears, each and every new sound is an accomplishment, something new and exciting.

Experiencing the miracle of hearing again

A picture of Shelley, use uses the Osia SystemThe Osia System is lightweight and discreet. I am able to hide the sound processor in my hair without it affecting sound quality or causing any feedback. I can pull my hair up and cover the Osia Sound Processor with my hair and participate in outdoor activities like hiking or biking and I am able to hear the sounds of nature, like the birds chirping, the rushing of the river, animals rustling on the forest floor and the gravel crunching under my feet. I now have a great appreciation for the sounds of nature.

Being in loud places and environments, I now have the confidence knowing that I will be able to participate in conversations rather than I had in the past where I would just smile and nod.  I am able hear surrounding conversations in my office and be a participant in discussions around me.

The Osia System has vastly impacted my life and brought positive changes during these difficult times of the pandemic.  I now have the self-confidence and joy to enjoy everyday activities and sounds. I am truly happy to be part of the Cochlear family and volunteer for Cochlear, where I am connected with Osia System candidates to hear their hearing stories and provide my insight of my experience. Each and every candidate has a story to be heard, and I am thankful that they are able to share with me and I can hear it.”

Are you or a loved one ready to learn about the Osia System? Take the first step and learn more about a bone conduction hearing solution today.

Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager at Cochlear Americas. She is responsible for consumer marketing social media and blog content. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.