How the Baha System helped Jamie pursue her love of music: guest blog

This blog was adapted from its original article on Hear and Now, a Cochlear Americas recipient blog. Read it here.


 

Jamie G. has conductive hearing loss, and the Baha System has helped her pursue her love of music.

Jamie G. has conductive hearing loss, and the Baha System has helped her pursue her love of music.

At the age of 14, I was asked by my otolaryngologist what I wanted to be when I grew up. Excitedly, I told him I wanted to be a singer. He then explained that music wouldn’t be a good choice for me.

I developed many ear infections and battled a cholesteatoma in my early years. I lost most of my hearing in my left ear even after numerous reconstruction surgeries. Because of this, my ability to sing should be out of the question. Shortly after that, I sent him a tape of my recordings. After a listen, my doctor wholeheartedly supported my decision to pursue music.

Hearing loss certainly didn’t make my life easy. It made me withdrawn, depressed and a shy girl in school. But music was one avenue that made me feel confident and secure. I loved feeling the sounds of the bass in my chest as I listened to my favorite artist, the drums vibrating in my feet, or the soprano’s high notes bringing my hearing to clarity. In order to perform, practicing music had to consume most of my time, but I didn’t mind. Reading music, counting rhythms and knowing chord progressions took time, but it was vital in order for me to be successful as a musician.

Thankfully, I outgrew the ugly battle with the cholesteatoma. Sadly, my hearing could never be restored. Hearing aids were not an option due to my ear’s inability to move any drainage or wax. So for 30 years I adjusted my life around my hearing loss.

In July 2015, I was referred to an ENT-otolaryngologist in Kansas City for a second opinion. That visit changed how I looked at my future. I was a strong candidate for the Baha® Implant System due to my conductive hearing loss. It didn’t take much thought to know that the Baha System was the right decision for me.

My switch-on date was December 2017. I slowly adjusted to this new, but amazing world. My world of quiet was replaced with new sounds. I could now hear that thumping bass line without having to just feel it in my chest. I could hear my voice not only when I sang those soprano notes, but I loved to hear the rich lower tones of my voice now. I didn’t have to make sure I performed in a certain spot on stage. I had the freedom to move wherever I needed to be. I still prefer to be near the drums, feeling the music in my feet and chest while I express my songs.

I chose Cochlear because of my musical lifestyle. I needed access to streaming without a separate device. But I also wanted to connect my device to any in-ear monitor system while performing. I knew I needed the best technology for my device to function in all areas of my life, so I choose the Baha 5 Sound Processor.

Jamie G. uses the Baha System to help explore her love of music.

Jamie G. uses the Baha System to help explore her love of music.

When I first got it, I made sure my settings were adjusted to my liking, and it took a few trips to the audiologist to get it just right. I love the ability to switch modes. When I listen or perform, I need my Baha 5 Sound Processor to adjust to the sound of the music. The tones I want when I sing or listen to music are certainly different that my daily mode.

I use my Cochlear True Wireless Mini Microphone every time I perform with my monitor system. Using a Y-adapter plugged into the monitor, I plug in my Mini Mic to one jack, my in-ear headphones to the other. Once I pair my Mini Mic to my Baha 5 Sound Processor, I hear every tone of the piano, the full sound of the acoustic guitar, the intricate bass line, my vocals moving in progression with the band…all in stereo – in both ears!

My musicianship has improved and excelled in a way I only could dream of a few years ago. I can now lead musically, knowing exactly what needs to be done to move the band to a more unified and excellent sound.

Because of my increased musical abilities with the Baha 5 Sound Processor, I got to hit the studio for my very first recording a year after my implant. While using my Baha System, I recorded a CD with a full live band. It was a beautiful experience to see and hear my own songs come alive and to be able to hear them fully and in true form.

Hearing loss made me appreciate my gift of music through expression. But the Baha System has given me the gift to hear that expression fully.

I look forward to more recording sessions and producing many more songs that have yet to be written! To hear a sample of my music or to purchase a download of my CD, you can visit jamiegroshart.com.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own views and not those of Cochlear.


 

If you are dealing with constant ear infections or a cholesteatoma impacting your hearing, click here to find a solution to help you get better hearing.


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Milan from Hungary loves football and his Baha 5 Sound Processor

baha-5-user-milan-juventus

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.

beats_of_cochlea_milan

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

 

How well does the Baha solution represent music in stereo?

baha-sound-music

QuestionHi there! I have a question with regards to the Baha System and music.

About 8 months ago I lost hearing in my left ear as a result of an infection and head injury. I’m booked in for diagnostic tests to consider my eligibility for implants, but my doctor has said that a Baha solution might be good for me. I never considered an implant until recently, but now I’m starting to come around to the idea.

My major qualm with an implant would be my enjoyment of music. Before my accident I was a huge music fan. I produced music as a hobby, played instruments, and loved listening to new artists and going to festivals. However since I got my SSD I’ve found it difficult to produce the same enthusiasm I once did, music seems blander than it once did, although I still enjoy it. Admittedly a lot of this disappointment is likely a result of the long-term tinnitus I’ve been experiencing, loud noises tend to make the tinnitus louder.

My question is: do you have any information about how well the Baha solution represents music in stereo? I imagine it will never be the same as two ears, but can it help recover some of the fine details I’ve been missing? Can it easily distinguish between pitches? And is there a risk of the tinnitus coming back after the implant?

Huge thanks for taking the time to read, I look forward to your reply. // Elliot

Answer: Hi there!

You are right in that your hearing might not be exactly the same as it used to – but with today’s technologies, you can expect the Cochlear Baha solution to offer better sound quality than ever before. One of the many benefits with the Baha System is that you can try it before surgery. By using a Baha sound processor on a Softband you’ll get a good idea of what your hearing will be like.

Also you should be aware that the dynamic range of music and speech is different. As music listening seems to be one of your key requests I would recommend that you ask your hearing care specialist to create a music program for the sound processor as you evaluate the benefit of the Baha System. This will make sure that music is represented in a good way by the system.

You can also listen via the wireless Mini Mic where you can adjust the level, so that the peaks of music do not overdrive the microphones.

Stereo representation will not be restored as it was before your accident as you now only hear with one ear (the Baha System will send the sound from your deaf side to the hearing ear via bone conduction). However, you should be able to pick up more details as some of the bland sounds you’re experiencing is due to the higher frequency sounds from your deaf side being shadowed by your head.

Regarding tinnitus there are no reports of increasing tinnitus problems for Baha users, on the contrary, there are actually reports on tinnitus relief after getting a Baha System. However, many factors influence this and the best person to answer any questions about this will be your hearing care specialist.

Best of luck!

~ Fredrik Breitholtz, Head of Training and Clinical Communication, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Music lover with SSD considering the Baha System

QuestionI am SSD (conductive issue); I am a music fanatic and depressed because I could never enjoy the “sensation”  of my 5.1 audio system. As expected, I like my music “loud”, not absurdly loud but loud, one of my ears is absolutely perfect. Please, how does the Baha sound processor respond to a loud audio input? Would it distort the sound or transmit it properly? My “regular”  hearing aid simply doesn’t work, it distorts the audio if it is already loud. In terms of music listening, would the abutment system be better than the Baha Attract?

Thanks a lot // Andre

Answer: Hi Andre!

The Baha Connect System will provide the most efficient transmission with a lower risk for distortion. That said, a music listening test with a properly programmed Baha sound processor on a Softband would give you a good understanding of whether the Baha Attract System might meet your individual requirements.

Amplifying music through a sound processor is always complicated. The reason is that the sound processor is so focused on speech that is sometimes “misapprehends” the music. Using a specific music program is often very beneficial. Your audiologist can easily provide you with such a program.

The sound processor also has a protection to very loud sounds. The purpose is simply to prevent it from generating a sound loud enough to damage your hearing. When this feature is used for a longer period of time, for example when listening to very loud music, it could distort the sound a bit. In that case I would recommend lowering the music volume as it is probably TOO loud. This feature is applicable to both the Baha Connect and Baha Attract System.

How you will hear sound through the Baha System depends on your type of hearing loss.

If you have a profound hearing loss on your “bad” ear, both when measured though bone and through air (SSD) the sound from this ear will be sent thought the bone to the good ear. So you will NOT hear the sound from both sides, in stereo. You will hear sound from both sides in ONE ear.

If you have conductive or mixed hearing loss on one ear, you will be able to hear from BOTH ears. That said, please note that only a hearing healthcare specialist can recommend what hearing solution is best for you.

Best of luck!

~ Annelen Hedin, Audiology Group Manager, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Read more about different types of hearing loss

 

Musician needs help with Bluetooth streaming

Question: I am a musician and sometimes have to play in noisy environments. I would like to be able to hear the music we are performing through my Baha 4 Sound Processor. The noise of the crowd sometimes makes it difficult to hear what we are playing, which makes it very difficult to play. Will a Bluetooth transmitter, hooked up to our mixer’s headphone or phono jack, send the music we are playing to my Baha 4 without latency?

Which transmitter, a 3.5 or 4.0, will work best? I have a Phone Clip that I use with my iPhone. Will the Bluetooth transmitter connect directly with my sound processor or will I need to use the Phone Clip? How far away from the transmitter can I be and still get the sound in my Baha 4 Sound Processor?

Thank you in advance for your help. //Jamie

Answer: Hi Jamie!

You can use the Phone Clip and pair it with another Bluetooth device.  The Bluetooth specification used in the Phone Clip is Bluetooth 2.1. Does the mixer table have Bluetooth? If not, there is a way to solve this:

Since the mixer has a line-in jack/headphone jack, then you can easily use a Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone and connect it with a jack cable. The Mini Microphone then has a 7 meters range from where it is placed to your sound processor.

If you would like to focus on the streamed music, discuss with your hearing care professional the option of programming your sound processor to only transmit the streamed audio from the Mini Microphone. This way the sound processor will not pick up any of the surrounding sounds/noises when the Mini Microphone is streaming audio. Another option is to program the sound processor to enhance the streamed audio with 6 dB to enable you to still hear the surrounding sounds.

When using the Mini Microphone, the latency is less than 20 ms.

~ Karin Humble, Senior Product Manager Wireless Accessories, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

baha-cochlear-wireless-microphonebaha-cochlear-wireless-phone-clip

The Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone and Phone Clip

Read more about the wireless accessories here

Baha user Nancy: With the Baha System I can even enjoy the wind!

Nancy-Baha-Cochlear-hearing-loss

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.

Nancy-Mini-Microphone-Baha-wireless

Wireless accessories

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.

Hearing improvement

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!

baha5-colors-copperNancy with the Baha 5 Sound processor in copper

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.