Experiencing hearing loss early in life Shelby dealt with challenges both academically and personally. With a desire to excel in school and enjoy the company of her friends and family, she embraced Cochlear’s newest bone conduction solution: the Osia® System. Now she has a newfound confidence and is excited about making a positive impact with her life. More on her journey to hearing clarity:
“My journey has been a unique one, as I navigate between the hearing and non-hearing worlds. I want to share my ‘new’ story of living with a hearing implant and how it has transformed my life.
The Early Years
My hearing loss journey began early in life. I was a late talker and resorted to using American Sign Language to communicate with my parents when I wanted things like apple juice. Frequent ear infections with high fevers were a recurring theme, making it challenging to keep up with my peers. Spelling tests in the third grade were especially tough; even after a week of preparation, I spelled ten words correctly, but they were the incorrect words.
In July 2005, I received a diagnosis of little to no hearing loss in my right ear, but moderate mixed loss in my left ear.
To help me function better in school, I borrowed a Phonak® FM unit from my school district. This device consisted of a transmitter microphone for my teachers and a receiver hearing aid for me. Additionally, I had the invaluable support of a hearing itinerant teacher who to this day has guided me through academic and personal challenges.
I was later diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, which brought an increase in tinnitus and hearing loss, adding another layer of complexity to my hearing journey.
The final chapter in my hearing loss contributions came with the dysfunction of my eustachian tube, so much so I needed 22 tympanostomy’s. But the tubes weren’t doing their job, leaving me with the chronic infections. That’s when my doctor decided it was time to operate. When my surgeon went in to perform my first mastoidectomy, they found what was left of my stapes bone. What was in hope of a successful surgery, failed soon after and I ended up developing a cholesteatoma.
The summer of 2018 marked a turning point in my life. While working as a high rope and climbing instructor at a day camp, a fall from a height resulted in a traumatic brain injury and a drop in my hearing and processing abilities. The following three years I struggled to enjoy time with my friends and family. These were the moments that made me realize the need for a solution.
I could no longer rely on my traditional hearing aids because my grades slipped. Reluctantly, I agreed to a trial run with the Cochlear Baha Start with the Softband, a non-surgical bone conduction solution. The moment my audiologist placed it on my head, it felt like my brain was turned on for the first time.
I vividly remember hearing everyday sounds, like a stapler from the other side of the doorway and my dad’s tears when I responded to him without reading his lips for the first time in 23 years. It was a moment of pure joy and disbelief.
When it came to deciding on a brand for my hearing implant, I considered several factors. My recurrent infections prevented me from wearing traditional hearing aids for extended periods, so I needed a device that could bypass ear blockage and stimulate my auditory nerve directly. Cochlear had a strong reputation for producing top-quality products and I ultimately chose the Cochlear Osia System; a decision I haven’t and believe I won’t ever, regret.
The Life-Changing Moment
The decision to move forward with the Osia 2 Sound Processor was primarily motivated by my desire to excel academically and enjoy my friends’ company without asking them to constantly repeat themselves. Oh, and then there was the actual need to hear – hear birds, hear the wind, hear kids running around yelling at each other having fun. I know that one day, I would want to hear my own kids laugh and have fun.
Living with my Osia System has been my game-changer. In school, my grades have improved remarkably and I found myself more engaged in lectures because I can hear information with clarity. This new-found ability has allowed me to keep up with my professors’ pace without constantly looking up from my notes.
I ask people to repeat themselves less frequently and I can now focus less on the exact words people say and more on their intended meaning. While I still occasionally require repetition, I’m now able to understand concepts more quickly, reducing my thought process delay.
Most importantly, I believe I have experienced less mental exhaustion- I no longer expect too much from my ears. My face apparently lights up with a positive attitude shift when I put on my sound processor, a noticeable change noted by those around me.
One of my favorite accessories is using Bluetooth® to listen to music while on the move. With this feature, I can change songs or adjust the volume seamlessly, much like someone with AirPods®. It’s a small but significant enhancement to my daily life.
Ironically, I love phonetics! I served as a lab assistant for a PhD SLP-CCC during my last year as an undergraduate. With the help of my sound processor, I found it easier to understand the research I was involved in. My mentor even noted a distinct difference in my performance before and after implant surgery.
What’s Next For Me?
Having recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in the speech and hearing program from the University of Arizona, I’m eager to continue my education by pursuing an MS degree. My long-term goal is to work with deaf children, providing them with the support and guidance I did not receive on my journey because I felt isolated among my peers.
Additionally, I’m working on getting a patent approved for a Bluetooth activity, which I hope to share with everyone once it’s finalized. I also recently got an American Girl® Doll customized to look like me with hearing aids.
My journey to hearing clarity with the Osia System has been life changing. I’ve regained the ability to engage fully in academics and everyday conversations. With this newfound confidence, I look forward to a future filled with opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of others while pursuing my own dreams and aspirations.”
Shelby’s hearing journey and progress are in due part thanks to her Grandmother; she would like to dedicate this blog to her for the support and encouragement to pursue speech and a life of hearing!
If you have been diagnosed with mixed hearing loss, the Cochlear Osia System could help you find hearing clarity! Learn about this solution here.1 2 3 4 5
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