But that does not mean it is the end. In fact, it may be a new beginning.
Meet Dennis, a Baha® 5 SuperPower recipient. He had normal hearing until 2012, when he went to the doctor because he suspected he had swimmer’s ear or inflammation.
Instead, Dennis was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma— a rare, non-cancerous tumor that presses on the eighth cranial nerve leading from the brain to the inner ear. Common symptoms include hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo.
Doctors estimated that his tumor had been growing for about 20 years.
“As the tumor grows, it takes up space, and by the time we found it, my hearing was down to 30 percent in the right ear—nothing usable,” Dennis said. “I could hear pings and single tones, (but) I could not understand what people were saying.”
Doctors told him his treatment options were surgery or radiation. Dennis opted for surgery in April 2013 to make sure the tumor was completely removed.
Six months later, at a post-surgery follow-up with his ENT, Dennis first learned about the Baha System. That was when everything changed.
“As a test, he put a Baha [sound processor] on my head, on a metal band,” Dennis recalled. “He stood behind me five feet or so and whispered words. When I realized it was picking up the sounds I was missing, I realised I’d like to have something to ‘harvest the sound’ from the deaf side.”
He had abutment surgery in December 2013, and by February 2014 Dennis was fitted with the BP110 processor. He said it helped him to become more aware of his surroundings.
“People couldn’t sneak up beside me on my right side, and I was aware somebody was there. That was basically why I did it,” Dennis said.
“When I wore the BP110, I was replacing the battery every ten days,” he said. “The SuperPower takes rechargeable batteries, so it actually works out better because I can get a day and a half out of a rechargeable battery. With the cost of disposable batteries, it’ll pay itself off after a while.”
Reflecting on his journey and his advice for others, Dennis compared hearing loss to navigating in the dark. It’s a lot easier when you have a light.
“Light a candle, don’t blame the darkness,” he said. “What do you have to lose?”