Following Shay’s hearing journey: from Softband to implant at age 11

Michelle and her daughter Shalynn, 11

Michelle and her daughter Shay, who wears a Softband.

By Michelle Robinson

When my daughter Shay was around one year old, I noticed that she was not reacting to loud noises like other children, so I decided to take her to have her hearing checked. Her family and I found out that she had moderate hearing loss in her right ear and that she had had it since birth. Although doctors did a hearing test when Shay was a newborn, we were not informed at the time that she failed it.

A short time after learning of Shay’s hearing loss, we made an appointment with our local ear, nose and throat specialist. The specialist confirmed that she had moderate hearing loss and nerve damage to her right ear. She needed a hearing aid. Shay received her first among many hearing aids at the age of two. In the years that followed, she has had several hearing exams, but due to her young age we were uncertain about what she was truly hearing.

When Shay was nine and a half I took her in for a routine hearing check, where we found out that her hearing loss was much more severe than we had thought. We learned she couldn’t hear voices and typical speech patterns. It turns out a normal hearing aid was not working for her at all.

My heart sank with this news. Shay not being able to hear out of her right ear was a huge concern: she was struggling in school because she couldn’t hear the teacher; it was difficult for her to ride her bike or play outside because she couldn’t hear when a car was coming up behind her.

The doctor explained to us the process of bone conduction, and he said he believed Shay would be a perfect candidate for the Baha System. We made an appointment right away with the Michigan Ear Institute. Doctors there confirmed that she has severe mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss) in her right ear, and that a normal hearing aid would not work for her. We discussed the Baha System and decided that it would be our best option.

After doing some investigating I learned about the Baha Softband, normally used for very young children. Shay has had the Softband for a little over a year now. It was like night and day: finally, she could hear! I’ve included a video of her hearing with the Softband for the first time with this blog. After a little more than a year and after seeing the difference it has made in her life, we knew it was time to replace the Softband. This December at the age of 11, Shay will have implant surgery to start her new life with the Baha Connect System. She is so excited to keep hearing better!

Michelle Robinson lives in Cheboygan, Michigan, U.S., and is the mother of 11-year-old Baha recipient Shalynn Robinson.

“The Baha 5 Sound Processor has given me back my life, my true passion”

Shelly Shannon is a first grade teacher from Tampa, Florida. She is passionate about her work and the teacher-student exchange.

“I remember the day I woke up and I couldn’t hear. It took my life away”, says Shelly, worried she’d never be in the classroom again. She recounts the difficulties of working as a teacher affected by hearing loss and the exhaustion she’d experience after a day struggling to hear her students.

As soon as she received her Baha 5 Sound Processor, Shelly’s life came back to normal. The sounds she experiences are clear and crisp, regardless of the situation.

“We sit on the porch, listen to the birds sing, and even through the sound of the rain in the background, I can still have a wonderful conversation with my husband”, Shelly says.

With the Baha 5’s Made for iPhone technology, Shelly can easily stream music, TV shows, and video calls directly to her sound processor. Other features include the True Wireless technology, which, according to Shelly makes hearing even better. The TV streamer, the Phone Clip and the Mini Microphone simplify the experience of sound with no strings attached.

Milan from Hungary loves football and his Baha 5 Sound Processor

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Baha 5 user and football enthusiast Milan Szente shows off his Baha 5 shirt at a recent launch event in Budapest, Hungary.

Milan was born with conductive hearing loss on both ears and has been wearing a Baha solution since he was little. Recently he upgraded from the BP100 to the Baha 5 System, and shared his experiences at the event. It was his very first time talking in front of a big audience!baha-5-small-smart

“I like the new drop-like shape of the Baha 5 Sound Processor, it is very elegant. My friends and family sometimes forget that I wear one, because it is so small! The new technology and the quality of sound are simply great. The accessories for it are very useful and make my life easier.”

Milan revealed that he uses all the Cochlear wireless accessories:

“Currently my favorite is the TV Streamer. I always keep the Remote Control around because it is very important for me. I use the TV Streamer daily, the Mini Mic approximately once a week at school, and the Phone Clip from time to time. When I start University I will probably use the Mini Mic more often, and if I get a job in the future I will use the Phone Clip more frequently – probably while driving.”

Milan enjoys both to play and listen to music. This summer he participated for the second time at the Beats of Cochlea Festival in Poland, an international music festival for hearing impaired people from around the world. He performed on the piece “The beginning” on the e-guitar, his own composition. Something he wouldn’t have been able to do without his Baha solution.

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But what Milan loves most is football – namely Italian team Juventus. He was actually inspired by the Cochlear representative in Central Europe, Antonio Sportelli.

“I am a Juventus fan because I have been inspired by Antonio, since I have met him. Antonio gave me a new nickname, because my name was ‘Milan’ and his favorite club is Juve, so he started calling me ‘Juve’. I am very proud of it. I love the football club because it is very cool and they play very good football. I am also a big fan of my hometown’s club ‘Videoton’. I usually go to matches with my father and friends.”

And his biggest dreams in life?

“I would like to work for Cochlear one day as they “gave me back hearing”, so I can hear now and always! Once in my life I would really like to watch a Juventus match live. I do find the Baha sound processors very interesting, so I would like to visit the Cochlear building in Sweden where they’re made. I would like to become as good in German and Swedish as I am in English (I have a level C1 language certification in English). There’s really no limits to what I can do.”

Read more: The Baha 5 Sound Processor is a Red Dot award winner

 

Baha 5 user Andria: “I can talk on the phone, handsfree, while driving!”

When Andria Lewis, USA, lost her hearing suddenly, it came as a complete shock to both her and her husband.

Unable to hear and participate in the conversations around her, she withdrew into herself and stopped going out. But with the help from her Baha System, she was gradually able to return to the person she was before her hearing loss – outgoing, sociable and fun-loving.

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One of the features she loves the most is being able to talk on the phone in her car – completely wireless.

“I could be driving and want to be handsfree. The phone rings and goes directly from the phone into my Baha 5 Sound Processor. It’s just been a godsend!”

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Andria also loves the Smart App which enables her to go out hiking with her husband and easily block out the wind – or just switch to a different setting while in an outdoor café, simply by using her smartphone.

“We can go out to dinner. And going out to dinner used to mean me missing 90% of what was said. Now I have the setting that can block out noise, and I can actually sit and dine with my husband and have a conversation. It’s just such a pleasure.”

Read more: The Baha 5 Sound Processor: incredibly small – and unbelievably smart

‘It’s like putting on your glasses’ – Dan on his Baha 5 Power Sound Processor

wearing-Baha-5-Power

Single-sided deafness (SSD) is a unique challenge. It can be very frustrating to only be able to hear on one side, especially in noisy or crowded situations when you have little control over your environment.

At 13, Baha user Dan lost all the hearing in his right ear. The cause is still unclear, but doctors suspected a virus damaged his cochlea or auditory nerve. They told him there was nothing to be done and sent him home. Dan wore a hearing aid system for about 20 years, with mixed results.

In 2005, Dan’s wife Susan ran across an article about a new hearing solution called a Baha System. Dan went to his health care professional for a trial and spent a week comparing his hearing aids to a Baha sound processor on a headband. He said that trial gave him all the information he needed.

“For me, the Baha [sound processor] with the headband was superior in clarity, volume, and understandability.”

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Now, after over a decade of advancements, he has upgraded to the smaller and more powerful Baha 5 Power Sound Processor and says the sound is better than ever.

“It’s so second nature, it’s like putting on your glasses,” says Dan. “You put it on and it works, you take it off and it stops. It does what I need it to do, and I don’t have to think about it throughout the day.”

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Dan at his daughter’s wedding (wearing his previous Baha 3 Power Sound Processor)

He said the moment that really drove home the importance of his processor was when both of his daughters got married, two years apart. Both times, he was able to do the father/daughter dance and be completely in the moment. Even when his daughters rested their heads on his right shoulder, he was able to hear every word they said.

“That, to me, is totally, completely priceless,” he said. “I can never replicate it or duplicate it. It was a one-time shot, and the processor let me hear what’s most important.”

Read Dan’s entire story here

Skylar lost her hearing in a car accident – now she can hear again with the Baha Attract System

Skylar-Baha-Attract-hearing-loss

A terrible car accident left 17-year old Skylar deaf and blind. Now – two years later, her vision is back on one eye and she can hear again thanks to the Baha Attract System.

“In July 2014, my dad and I were driving to church for youth group. Just as we entered an intersection, a driver in a raised pickup truck ran a red light, T-boning and plowing through our small Volkswagen Beetle […] The result was gruesome: My dad was killed instantly and I was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition.”

When Skylar woke up from her medically induced coma, it was to a traumatic brain injury and broken bones in her head, face, and the upper left side of her body. The left side of her face was completely paralyzed, she had profound hearing loss in both ears and was totally blind in her left eye.

After nine surgeries the doctors managed to save her shattered skull and repair her severed facial nerve. The hearing in her right ear came back unexpectedly after two weeks, but she was still completely deaf on her left side.

“I just kind of accepted the hearing loss and went about my life, trying to heal from all the other injuries. Until I had a follow-up appointment with my audiologist a few months later, when she told me I potentially qualified for a Baha device.

I had heard of Cochlear implants, but never bone-anchored hearing conduction devices. The technology was fascinating to me, and I was so excited that I could possibly regain some sound that we scheduled the Baha Attract surgery that very afternoon, for an operation two weeks later.”

Skylar was one of the Anders Tjellström scholarship winners this year, and is currently working as a summer intern in the US, supporting the Cochlear Recipient Services team. She says that she is glad she took the decision to get a Baha implant and that it has definitely changed her life for the better. She loves the magnet, too.

“The cool thing about the Baha Attract is that once the site healed from surgery, there was no more maintenance required. When I take off my processor there’s no sign that I have anything there, and the magnet isn’t strong enough to cause problems when I walk past lockers or fridges. (That was one of my actual concerns going into the procedure!)”

 

Read Skylar’s whole story here

“I wish everybody who had a hearing loss could experience what I’m hearing now”

On the day Debra Brant, 54 got her Baha sound processor fitted, she cried:

“It was like hearing for the first time. Hearing on both sides and getting back the stereo sound I lost was fantastic – it was emotionally overwhelming.”

Her hearing loss started on her right side as a child and continued throughout her childhood. As doctors told her that hearing aids would not really help, she simply learned to “live with it”. A few years ago Debra underwent surgery that left her with practically no hearing on her right side.

It was then that she was first told about the Baha System, that it would be the best choice for her type of hearing loss. Debra was able to try out the Baha sound processor on a Softband before surgery, something that really helped her make her decision. Thanks to this opportunity she was able to hear the difference and decided to move forward.

“The Baha 5 System has been life-changing because, for the first time in my life — in over 50 years — I can hear on both sides”, says Debra. “Now, instead of feeling isolated when there’s a family gathering and people are talking, I can hear.”

baha-device-colorsBaha-5-sound-processor-debra

(Picture: Debra and her two daughters)

The Baha 5 Sound Processor is compatible with all Cochlear Wireless Accessories. The wireless Mini Microphone helps Debra a lot in her daily life. If one of her daughter wears it while out shopping, Debra can hear both her daughter’s voices if they walk close together. She can even hear them if she’s in the dressing room and they’re outside. Being a teacher, she can put the Mini Mic in the middle of the room and it enhances what the students are saying.

The Baha 5 Smart App enables her to discreetly change programs and activate wireless streaming with her iPhone.

“The made-for-iPhone technology makes life so much easier because the app gives me accessibility to adjusting the volume just using my iPhone.  I can adjust the treble, the bass.  It will give me an alert when my processor is running low.”

Soon, Debra is going to be a grandmother for the first time. One of her daughters is expecting a little boy!

“I am fully looking forward to having a little grandson and I won’t miss out on a single thing in his life, like I did when my girls were babies. I want to get the most out of life that I can because I can hear. I’m not missing anything.”