Michelle D. suffered hearing loss from chronic ear infections her entire life, dealing with numerous ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) visits and a cholesteatoma too. After surgery was no longer a successful solution, Michelle fell into a situational depression, frustrated by her inability to enjoy the sounds of her mail carrier route or hear her daughter whisper in her “bad ear.” After an eye-opening trial of the Cochlear™ Baha® 5 Sound Processor, Michelle finally found the solution she had been searching for in the CochlearTM Baha® 5 Implant System:

The never-ending chronic ear infection

“My hearing loss journey has been a long process of embarrassment, frustration and denial. During childhood, I had tubes in my ears, many painful ear infections and drank multiple prescriptions of pink bubblegum flavored amoxicillin (medicine used to treat ear infections). After getting in trouble for not listening to my first grade teacher, a school hearing test led to doctor appointments, which concluded I had a ruptured eardrum. I then spent two years taking a supplemental speech class due to the hearing loss. Mother with hearing loss from chronic ear infections with daughter

Fast forward to my 20s when the chronic ear infections continued onward! Just whispering the word ‘water’ in my ear would prompt an infection. My ENT at the time was at a loss, and I was tired of all the antibiotics, so she referred me to a doctor who diagnosed me with a cholesteatoma (the scar tissue from the excessive ear infections trapped the moisture and bacteria behind my eardrum and caused more growth of tissue). My first surgery removed the tissue, and my doctor inserted a T-tube; the procedure bought me two years of no infections and having hearing in my left ear!

Sadly, the cholesteatoma returned. My doctor operated again and widened my ear canal in hopes the tissue would not grow. The surgery was able to stop the ear infections, but the eardrum was not able to move as it had in the past. This meant worsened hearing loss and continued frustration on my part.

My “aha” moment

I was in denial over my hearing situation. I felt depressed when I could not hear properly, but continued to let it go. One day, my daughter was whispering something into my ‘bad ear,’ and I could not hear her. I had reached my limit, so I returned to my doctor, and he recommended I try the Cochlear Baha System.

Mail carrier with hearing loss from chronic ear infections with mail truckInitially I was afraid of the surgery, but the second my audiologist placed the demo Baha 5 Sound Processor on me, WOW! I could not wait to get it! We opted for the abutment because the doctor had much success with the product. Surgery was about 45 minutes long and went incredibly well, I had minor pain, but never enough to use the prescribed pain medicines. The day the healing cap came off was amazing; the abutment and area around it looked so good! I had a small strip of hair shaved, but I had a huge support group around me to make me feel confident in my decision. We even joked that if people stared at me, I could touch the abutment and act like I was a secret agent!

My Baha 5 Sound Processor was activated on October 26, 2017, and I am so in love! Before the Baha 5 Sound Processor, I would have shied away from social settings, avoided phone conversations where I could not lip-read, or positioned myself in certain places so my ‘good ear’ would benefit the most. After saying ‘what’ multiple times in social situations, I (and I am sure others with hearing loss) was accustomed to nodding and smiling, even if I was not sure what was said. Finally, I was able to break free of those moments! My very first ‘yes!’ moment had to be when I heard the rumble of a train before my husband could!

Getting the joy back in my career

I am a mail carrier and the Baha 5 Implant System has given me a new joy in all the sounds I hear outside throughout the day on my route. The sound of crinkling leaves and pine needles under my feet is so amazing; I never realized how noisy the world is!

I now feel more confident in conversations and cannot wait to continue on my hearing journey. I actually enjoy using my device as a demo for my friends to hear the sound I hear. Having the surgery and getting the Baha 5 Implant System has changed my life, and I truly wish I had done it sooner!”

Learn more about how to battle your hearing loss from chronic ear infections, like Michelle, with the Baha 5 Implant system.

Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy at Cochlear Americas. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.