After a surgery took Keith P.’s hearing on one side, his single-sided deafness and subsequent health problems took over his life. Unable to bear the tinnitus, Keith became depressed, lost his job and could not enjoy singing or bird watching. When he learned about the Cochlear Baha® System, Keith jumped at the opportunity to get his life back. Read how it paid off for him:

Keith with single-sided deafness“My hearing loss journey began when I had an operation on my seventh cranial nerve due to a rare condition called hemifacial spasm. The surgery takes the surgeon through the nerve cluster behind the ear, inside your skull and below your brain to the VII nerve. In the process, my VIII nerve was disturbed and moved, (it should not have been); this resulted in single-sided deafness. I met with the surgeon, the ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT), and many other doctors, who all told me that my hearing loss would be temporary. Unfortunately, it was not. I also developed tinnitus in my ear and never got used to the noise.

Depressed and without hope

At the time, I had lost my job as a salesman and was having a very difficult time providing for my five children and my wife. I was unemployed, having to be helped by my family to pay my bills and at the end of my rope. I could only make it until about 1 o’clock in the afternoon until the nausea and balance issues I was struggling with got the best of me, and I had to sleep in the afternoon. In order to walk, I had to place my hand on the shoulder of someone else most of the time. To make matters worse, the doctors did not know what to do and gave me steroids and medications that gave me worse reactions. I will always be grateful for my family coming around me in this time. I was sick, mad or depressed for much of this time.

Keith with single-sided deafness outside hikingIn addition, I had become sensitive to noises; it was as if everything was amplified. I had to isolate myself to our small back bedroom, because I could not tolerate my children’s normal, robust noises. A shout or dog bark would almost drop me to my knees. I could not go to crowded restaurants or church services, and singing/performing, which I enjoyed, was out of the question. I was very isolated and used the internet to research my condition and possible specialists who could give me some hope.

I received my first hearing aid to help with my single-sided deafness and used a CROS hearing aid solution. This system was two hearing aids, one for the left side and one in my right side that took the sound from the left ear and transferred it to the right. It hissed so much I could not utilize it for work, and it simply amplified everything. They were uncomfortable behind my ears and blocked the sound in my good ear. Still not being able to enjoy music, I gave up hope; but on the positive side, I was able to get a new job and start working again.

New device, new hope

I ended up going to a group meeting and met a very smart audiologist who caught how I careened my head to hear correctly. After the meeting, she approached me and asked me if I had hearing loss. To my surprise, she was working with this new device called the Baha System. I had no idea what that was! When she described the procedure and results, I was immediately intrigued. After a doctor visit and insurance authorization, I moved very quickly to getting the Baha bone conduction implant. To my amazement, my insurance covered most of the expenses. This was very helpful during this time in my life. I will always be grateful to that audiologist for asking me about my hearing loss.

Keith with single-sided deafness with grandchildrenThe surgery went very well. Recovery could not happen fast enough, I was so ready to test-drive this device! Once the healing finished, I got the greenlight for activation. I had my device activated and was ready to go out and experience the world again.

Getting music and joy back in life

I hit all the free musical events I could find. I enjoyed jazz concerts again. I enjoyed desert hiking and sounds of the Sonoran Desert birds, dove, quail, gurgling riparian streams and finches. My tinnitus dropped and was not as bothersome, and the migraine headaches were less frequent. Overall, I was much less frustrated with overworking to hear things.

I had begun to enjoy music again but had given up on being musical myself; I had thought performing was lost. However, I felt ready to challenge myself and audition to sing for others. I was accepted to join the church worship singing team and was able to lead in worship again! That was such a powerful day. I could harmonize with others, pick up the background musicians, and stand and sing again.

Absent noises coming back

Keith with single-sided deafness outsideWhen the Baha 5 SuperPower Sound Processor became available, I was really excited to see how the upgrades to the device would work. WOW, it was worth the wait. I have been and continue to be surprised by this new device. Just this week, I was speaking with people on both of my sides in a noisy environment. Up until now, I could not have functioned without craning my neck.

I have enjoyed the quiet of hiking and walking in canyons lately, especially the beautiful Sonoran Desert. It is also springtime here and the birds are back. I do not know how to quite to describe this, but I am able to pick up the quiet coos of dove, quail, cactus wren, and bubbling brooks in Sabino Canyon during hikes. These noises were somehow absent before now. The small quiet sounds have returned to me; this is huge. I have also enjoyed hearing the voices of my beautiful granddaughters. They have soft voices that are wonderful and beautiful to hear clearly.

Next, I will continue to work in sales and more effectively communicate with others. I have planned a trip to Ghana, Africa this summer for a trip to help a local orphanage. Also, during the trip, I will be enjoying music. More importantly, I will be talking to children and actually able to hear and enjoy their voices.”

Are hearing aids not helping your single-sided deafness? Discover more about the Cochlear Baha System and get back to hearing and enjoying the activities you love.

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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.