Sudden sensorineural deafness: I lost my hearing overnight

Cyndi-Baha-user-Cochlear

When Cynthia Marrone woke up one October morning, something had changed and life would never be the same again. She’d lost her hearing overnight. While ordinary hearing aids couldn’t help her, a Baha System could. This is the story of her journey, told in her own words:

“I live in New Jersey with my husband, 17-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. I lost my hearing just over a year ago. I remember the exact date, October 4th, 2013. I had gone to bed the night before perfectly normal and healthy.  When I woke up at 6am, I felt weird – the left side of my head was numb and I was a little dizzy. My right side was fine, but I couldn’t hear anything out of my left ear. I thought I had an ear infection. At work the dizziness continued, and I couldn’t hear at all.  Afterwards I went to an emergency medical facility. They said my ear was fine and referred me to the ENT department.

I will never forget the moment when the doctor told me I had experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss. I was terrified.  What was going to happen to me?

Permanent hearing loss

A few weeks later I had an appointment with Dr. Stewart at John Hopkins Hospital. That was a tough day.  He informed me that it wasn’t going to heal, that I was never going to regain my hearing.  My hearing loss was permanent.  He told me that hearing aids wouldn’t help me.  What could help me was a Baha System. To show me how it worked, he put a headband on me and lowered his voice to a whisper. And I heard him! That was all it took. I told him I’m ready, let’s do this.

Two weeks later I went in for surgery, and a number of weeks after that I was fitted with my sound processor.

Once I realised I could hear, I just started crying.  Finally, I would be able to have my old normal life back again.

 Going into retreat

In that short period of time after I lost my hearing, I found myself retreating and not wanting to engage in social activities and the things I usually love – going out to restaurants, attending school functions with my kids or going to the theatre. I work as a social worker, assessing and approving international adoptions. But before I got my Baha Attract System, I struggled to do my job. I see families and have to evaluate and assess their abilities as parents to adopt a child. After I lost my hearing, I struggled through interviews, experienced trouble hearing, and had a difficult time concentrating.

Back to life

Now, with the Baha Attract System, people don’t even notice I have hearing loss. I do trainings and presentations at work, talk to people and don’t have any problems hearing them. I can function in any setting without a problem. Recently we went to a concert.  I have different programs available for concerts, but I really felt like I didn’t even need them.  Everything sounded great.  I like to go shopping, cook, entertain, and now with my Baha system that’s not a challenge. It has given me the ability to live my life normally and do the things I always have loved.

My husband also thinks it’s great.  We don’t have to worry about him sitting on my “good” side or me not being able to hear him.  He can sit anywhere and I can hear. My children just think everything is back to normal. It’s part of who I am now. When people ask me about it, I’m happy to tell them what the Baha System is and how it has helped me.Cyndi-Baha-5-Sound-Processor

I lost my hearing in October, had surgery in January, and it was the right thing for me.  I don’t regret it at all.  I think if I would have waited, I would still be sitting here, wondering whether or not I should have done it. It’s been great, there’s no downside.

Low maintenance

In terms of hearing, the Baha Attract System works beautifully and is low maintenance.  I can work, exercise and run training programs.  I wore my sound processor on vacation in Venezuela – even down to the pool, and just put it in a pouch when I got in the water. I personally love that I don’t have the abutment. I worried about this because I have sensitive skin, so I’m very glad I chose the Baha Attract System.

It’s never going to be the exact same as my normal hearing, but you can’t expect perfection.  Our bodies are miracles, but the Baha System is darn good and I can hear.

My favorite sound is being able to hear the birds outside. When my mum passed away from cancer, she said when you hear the birds, think of me.  So I go outside, I listen to the birds, and I think of her.”

Outcomes may vary. Results from case studies are not predictive of results in other cases.

Ask the expert: Release date of Cochlear Baha 5 Sound Processor

Question: When will the Baha 5 Sound Processor be available in Australia? //Jason

Answer: Thank you for your interest in the Cochlear Baha 5 Sound Processor!

The Baha 5 is expected to be released in Australia and New Zealand later this year. Different countries have different regulatory and reimbursement approval timelines so as soon as the Baha 5 Sound Processor is available, Cochlear Australia and New Zealand will let you know.

~ Lisa Taylor, Product Manager Australia/New Zealand, Cochlear Ltd

Smart tip: Lost your sound processor? Find it with the Smart App

SmartTipLeftSuddenly the whole world goes quiet. As you reach up to your Baha sound processor to see what’s wrong, you realize that the worst has happened – it’s not there! You’ve lost it!

Don’t worry – the Baha 5 Smart App will help you locate i. Just open the Assist section and tap ‘Locate device’. The closer you get to your sound processor, the higher bar on the screen.

If your sound processor is switched off or if you are too far away for a connection, there’s a solution for that, too. Switch to Map view. The map will show the last location where you had a connection. This helps you narrow down the search to your workplace, the bus, your child’s school, your back yard…

It’s unbelievably smart!

Baha-App

Incredibly small, unbelievably smart

Download the Baha 5 Smart App

American Baha user Micah, 8, visits Baha headquarters in Sweden

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Last week we had a very special visit – a family from the US. They came all this way across the pond to show their son Micah, 8, the place and people who makes him able to hear.

Micah was adopted from China in 2007 when he was 16 months old; his older sister was also adopted from China in 2004.

“We knew about Micah’s atresia/microtia, but it seemed to be a manageable issue,” says Micah’s mother Lydia.

Micah got his first Baha sound processor at 20 months old, and his second one a year later. According to his parents, Micah quickly adapted to his new sound processors. They have held up well over the years, with him being a very active child.

When Micah turned three, he started attending Summit Speech School in New Jersey where he was expected him to remain until kindergarten. But he actually did so well at Summit that he ‘graduated’ at age four and entered a mainstream pre-kindergarten program in the local public school system. Micah is now in third grade and has speech therapy services once or twice per week.

So, what did they think of visiting Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions?

“We had a wonderful visit to Gothenburg, and the highlight was definitely the trip to visit Cochlear,” says Lydia. “Micah loved every aspect; from touring the manufacturing offices to see how the Baha sound processors are assembled, to actually trying out the Baha 5 Sound Processor and the Smart App. Micah now wants the Baha 5 as soon as possible and has been talking about it non-stop, partly because it was lighter and partly because he sees it as a path to getting his own iPhone (which happens in our family in 6th grade/age 11). I loved that I could just speak quietly into the iPhone while looking at Micah wandering on the other side of the canteen and see the look on his face when he heard me.

Additionally, we’d like to thank all the wonderful people we met and who took the time to show us how much work goes into producing the Baha. Micah’s Baha System has had such a positive impact on his speech and hearing. I really wanted to show him how people working on the other side of the globe have made such a difference in his life.”

Read more: How the Baha 5 Sound Processor was made

Smart tip: daily notifications in the Smart App

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The Baha 5 Smart App has built-in notifications with daily tips that appear on your phone. It can be everything from reminders to cover up your Baha 5 Sound Processor in the rain, to advice on how to avoid feedback or what to do when going through security at airports. Basically quick tips on everyday situations so you don’t need to remember them every day.

Once you feel you know them all, the daily notifications can be turned off in Settings. (Notifications that alert you that your battery is running low, or if the connection between your phone and sound processor is lost, will not be turned off.) It’s unbelievably smart!

Enjoy your day!

Cochlear-Baha-Smart-App

Incredibly small, unbelievably smart!

 

Smart Tip: Use the Smart App to change volume

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Are you a Baha 5 user? Need to turn up the volume on your Baha 5 Sound Processor? No problem. All you need is your iPhone and the Baha 5 Smart App. No more fiddling around with buttons, slowing down the conversation. Just take out your iPhone, open the app and the volume control is the first thing to appear on your screen. Move the volume slider up and you’ll hear instantly more. All discreetly done and no one probably even noticed…

It’s unbelievably smart!

Baha-5-smart-app

Incredibly small, unbelievably smart!

Read more: Victor loves the new Baha 5 technology

In the news: Insights from the Maker of the Smallest Implantable Hearing Device

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Qmed has an in-depth article about the Baha 5 Sound Processor and Smart App where they feature an interview with Mats Dotevall, Director of Design & Development, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, Sweden.

Dotevall begins with explaining the difference between hearing aids, cochlear implants and bone conduction hearing solutions, and how the latter actually work:

“[A Baha System] is for people that have some sort of issue with the outer ear, the ear canal, or the middle-ear bones […] Basically, your inner ear might be very healthy but sound doesn’t reach it. So what we do is put an implant into the skull that integrates with the bone tissue. It vibrates and helps transmit sound to the inner ear. A sound processor picks up sound, amplifies it, and then vibrates the skull bone. The inner structure of the ear, the cochlea, and the hair-like stereocilia in the inner ear also vibrate. In that way, you can bypass the standard way of sound coming through the inner ear.

There is also another indication where the device is used: single-sided deafness. One side is completely deaf, which can be quite a big handicap in social environments, in the car, and so forth. For those patients, we put the device on the deaf side and then vibrate over to the hearing side.”

Qmed: How did the company make this the smallest bone conduction sound processor on the market?

Dotevall: “The key engine in all of this is the electromagnetic vibrator, which is small and it is driven by a small hearing device battery. We are using a different kind of architecture. The previous architecture had a simple design but it was asymmetrical. We made it symmetrical, which makes it more difficult to manufacture. Having this architecture makes the device much more efficient. With the same battery size, power output, and the same force from the vibrator, we could reduce the size substantially.”

Read the rest of the article here