This month’s guest blogger is Arti Patel, UK, a Baha user who was born with Treacher Collins and hearing loss. She now dedicates her time to help others in her situation, by working as a Membership Assistant for the National Deaf Children’s Society and volunteering at the National Registry for Bone Anchored Hearing Systems. This is her Baha story:
“This year marks 20 years since I was fitted with a bone conduction hearing solution. My parents really made a leap into the unknown when they agreed I should have this new hearing implant. I can say without a doubt, that it was the BEST decision they ever made for me.
I was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS), a genetic condition affecting the development of the tissues and bones within the face. This resulted in smaller jaw bones and under developed cheekbones and ears. I was diagnosed with a hearing loss when I was 2 years old and was fitted with behind the ear hearing aids. Although these worked well, I suffered from frequent ear infections and those pesky things never stayed in my ears!
Thankfully, someone mentioned the implantable bone conduction to my parents and the process began. I was referred to the esteemed Mr Proops in Birmingham and had my surgery* when I was 5 years old. I don’t remember much about it, apart from waking up with a bandage on my head and getting a new teddy bear which I’ve kept to this day.
When I was fitted my brand new Baha Sound Processor, my parents noticed a difference straight away. My speech improved, I became more confident and started doing better at school. The first couple of weeks my parents helped me take the sound processor on and off, however I quickly learned to do this myself.
Now, no one ever notices my sound processor, but that doesn’t stop me telling everyone about it. At school, the teachers were great and very eager to see this new piece of technology. I remember standing up in class at school and telling everyone about my new hearing implant, and how it helps me to hear. The other kids were pretty fascinated and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I’m very lucky that people have always accepted me for who I am. They’ve understood that the Baha solution makes my life better.
In school, the FM system was a huge support to help me hear the teachers in the noisy classroom. Of course, technology has improved massively since then and most systems are now wireless and more reliable.
Without the Baha System, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m thrilled to be volunteering for the Ear Foundation Registry which was developed with the support of Cochlear Europe and Oticon Medical, and will help secure the future of the Baha solution in both the UK and worldwide.
It’s been a great privilege to share my experience, and one of the best things about having a Baha sound processor is meeting fantastic people through the Ear Foundations’ Baha forum. One question I always get asked is, ‘Would you recommend the Baha solution’? Of course my answer is, YES!
You can read more about me and my Baha experience on my blog.
* In the United States and Canada, the placement of a bone-anchored implant is contraindicated in children below the age of 5