Katelyn dealt with hearing loss throughout her childhood. She underwent several surgical procedures to try and heal her ear, but nothing worked. Eventually her doctor recommended the Cochlear™ Osia® System as a hearing solution for her cholesteatoma. She now embraces her hearing journey and is looking to inspire others to be proud of their differences. Read more:


“I have grown up with a medical condition called a cholesteatoma, which has now caused me to lose all of my hearing in my left ear. I have minor hearing loss in my right ear as well. I have had many surgeries so far and my last just before I finished my senior year of high school.

Hearing aids helped with things I had never heard before

Katelyn who struggled to find a hearing solution for her cholesteatoma, holding an awardI had worn a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid for several years. I will never forget my experience getting that first hearing aid. I cried. I didn’t want anyone to see it and I was so embarrassed. It took me some time to get used to it and when I did, I realized that the benefits were life changing. I heard things that I had never heard before.

Hearing aids weren’t enough – I was ready for a next step

Katelyn who struggled finding a solution for her cholesteatoma, playing field hockey against an opponentThe last two years with my hearing aid, I struggled to have a healthy ear due to an unhealthy eardrum and mastoid. I underwent several surgical procedures to heal my ear that just was never getting better. My doctor, who’s the best ever, tried everything: laser treatments, boric acid, gentian violet. I mean he really tried it all. Through all of this time of trying to heal my ear, I couldn’t wear my hearing aid. This made many things a challenge. I couldn’t hear my field hockey coaches and classroom learning was difficult, especially through masks. Being included with peers was hard. I was in for a checkup and my doctor said I think it’s time to talk about a hearing implant. I cried, again; but booked my appointment as fast as he could fit me in and was ready to take that next step. Within 2 months I had the surgery for my Osia System and activation with my audiologist.

I continued to struggle with bacterial infections in my ear due to my mastoid. At this point my doctor and I started talking about college approaching and not being so close for these constant check-ins. We made the decision together to do what is called a blind sac closure. He drilled out my mastoid, taking the anatomy out of my ear, along with a fat graph from my stomach to fill in my entire mastoid and canal. This closure left me with no natural hearing; it was pretty devastating and a huge adjustment.

Embracing a huge difference in sound

Katelyn who struggled finding a hearing solution for her cholesteatoma, playing field hockey. Having the Cochlear Osia Sound Processor1 at this point already made things a bit easier. I am able to hear so much clearer with it than with the traditional hearing aid. It has made a huge difference in the classroom and on the field. I was a bit embarrassed at first, but have learned to embrace it.

As I embrace my differences, I hope to show others that it’s okay to be different. I spend a lot of time working with younger kids, coaching them in field hockey. I hope that I am not just coaching them on how to play the sport but teaching them about accepting differences. I hope they see me as different and that being different is ok. I hope they see my confidence. I hope they see my compassion. I hope they see me as an inspiration.

I am proud of my journey and what I’ve gone through

I recently moved to college at Pace University, where I am studying biology and playing Division II field hockey. I definitely am going to be using the Mini Microphone to help with communication during games and in the classroom. I have accommodations in place to help me be the most successful I can be. During these next steps towards my future, I am hopeful that I can become a surgeon. I hope to continue to inspire, lead and make a change in how people see ‘different.’ I like to think that who I am today was shaped by what I‘ve gone through. I am so proud of my journey and where I am today.”

If you are seeking a hearing solution for a cholesteatoma, contact Cochlear today to see if the Osia System is an option.

  1. In the US, the Osia system is cleared for children 12 years and older. In Canada, the Osia system is approved for children 5 years of age and older.
Jesse Griego
Jesse Griego is the Social Media Specialist at Cochlear Americas. Jesse finds inspiration daily in the resiliency of our recipients and their hearing journeys. Jesse was born and raised in Colorado and in his free time enjoys being a wrestling and lacrosse coach, playing guitar and being with his hound dog.