Nancy Von Eilbergh has had hearing loss in both ears all her life. She struggled for 50 years until she finally got the help she needed. Here she tells us about her journey.
“My name is Nancy. I am a wife, mother and nurse. When I was seven years old, it was discovered I had cholesteatomas in both ears. They were benign, slow but aggressively attacking tumours, destroying the bones in my inner ear that allow us to hear.
My hearing loss treatment started with hearing aids, which seemed to amplify everything behind me more than in front of me. Socially it was difficult because I would constantly misunderstand people. In school, the teachers would forget about my hearing loss and have their backs to me, talking to the chalk board so I was not able to lip read.
Hearing aids weren’t enough
I continued to wear hearing aids throughout high school. Then one day my dog ate my hearing aids (yes, really!), and I decided to go without them for a while. I went on to nursing school and was able to get through it with a specialised stethoscope and start my nursing profession.
I managed alright until my early 30’s. Then I went back to hearing aids until about two or three years ago. They were not working adequately; the mould would not sit properly in my left ear canal, and the right aid was not amplified enough. Originally I was told I was not a candidate for bone conduction hearing implants. This devastated me. I was at the point of considering retiring from my job as Nurse Manager because my hearing didn’t work effectively.
Tested bone conduction before surgery
Then I saw an ENT physician who said I may be an ideal candidate for the Baha System after all. I got an evaluation, and a Cochlear representative came out for my test. I threatened to run away with the test rod – I was so amazed and excited by what I could hear! I told my physician to sign me up yesterday.
I spoke in length with the representative, my physician and my husband. I wasn’t concerned about pain. I was a little anxious about anaesthesia but felt very comfortable with all the answers I received. I trusted the doctor and the product. Overall, it was an easy decision because I figured at this point my hearing levels couldn’t go anywhere but up.
I looked at one or two other bone conduction products, mostly from a repair standpoint. My hearing aids were always getting repaired. I had a tight relationship with my hearing aid manufacturer because they were local, and I could bring my aids in for repair the same day. I was concerned about shipping out my sound processor if repairs were needed. I researched Cochlear’s history, how long Cochlear has been involved in hearing solutions, and hands down it was the best choice for me.
In February, I was implanted on my left side, and in April on my right side. When I received my Baha sound processors, it was almost surreal. The Cochlear representative asked what music I wanted to hear first, and I told her I wanted Cat Stevens. When she played it, my face broke into a grin; I was off in my own world. It was like my favourite music was being played by the philharmonic, and it was just me and the music. I would have been happy if everyone just left for a moment.
Then we started programming the sound processor and the wireless accessories. My son took the Mini Microphone and walked down the hall, and I could hear him say “Hi mom” with the physician in the room talking. It is still such a great memory. Now I also use the Phone Clip which works very well for me. It delivers people’s voices directly to my sound processor, bypassing surrounding noise and allows me to hear phone conversations clearly. It’s a godsend, especially when I am on-call for work.
Getting the Baha System has been nothing short of a miracle! I have never heard this well before. I have a new lease on life. My brain had to adjust a bit – what not to listen to, what to listen to – but it’s been fairly easy for me.
My family has definitely noticed an improvement in my hearing. My husband even jokingly tells me he wants me to take it off because I can hear when he mumbles. My family can talk to me without yelling. I don’t have to ask my son to repeat himself; I pick up 99% of what he says. At work, I can definitely tell the difference. I can be in next room and carry on conversations instead of being in the same room and missing it all – it’s phenomenal! Even today, I stopped and noticed the sound of my shoes on the carpet.
I have been able to successfully continue my job as a Nurse Manager. People can’t believe I use hearing devices. They’re less obvious than my hearing aids because my hair hides them, and I hear better now so people don’t need to repeat themselves. That’s amazing to me!
I love kayaking, although I typically don’t wear my sound processors while I do it. I do use them up to the point of going in the boat because I love to hear it gliding into the water. I love to be outside and walk, hearing the sound of the rustling of trees. Those are things I missed tremendously. The sound of rain on the car is just something you take for granted. And when it comes back, it’s amazing.
With my old hearing aids, the sound of the wind felt like I was on the wing of a Boeing 747. With my Baha sound processors, I can actually enjoy the wind. I’m social, I love talking with people. I have a good sense of humor, and now I don’t have the miscommunication that I experienced prior to the surgery.
For people who ask what it is, I tell them my Baha System is an incredibly cool piece of technology. I explain how it works and show them what it looks like. I have also chatted with a few people on Facebook, mostly with parents of young kids. To me, that’s the most fabulous thing in the whole world, to consider how to improve your child’s hearing. I think to myself how much easier life is when you can hear, and it blows me away.
Choosing Cochlear has been a great decision. The Cochlear representative was wonderful both pre-op and post-op. She was and still is incredibly helpful. The online support has been wonderful, my orders have always arrived very quickly. I’ve just had very positive experiences with Cochlear.”
Watch Nancy’s Baha story here
Outcomes may vary. Results from case studies are not predictive of results in other cases.