Despite being born with a bilateral conductive hearing loss, Isabella doesn’t let anything, especially her hearing loss, slow her down. She has microtia on her left side and bilateral atresia. When her parents realized she had a hearing loss at birth, they worked quickly to ensure she received early intervention.
“When I was little and I hadn’t had my reconstruction surgery yet for my microtia, I used to tell people that I was in an alligator fight and that an alligator bit my ear off. I was instantly the coolest kid.” – Isabella Rodriguez.
Her mother, Lupita, began advocating and researching this new world of hearing loss which led her to join Georgia PINES (Parent Infant Network for Educational Services). Through her work as an early interventionist for Georgia PINES and Georgia Hands and Voices, she learned first-hand about the latest hearing technology and spoke with local audiologists. This is how she came across Oticon Medical’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.
Starting high school off right
As Isabella entered high school, her parents knew she needed to upgrade to the newest technology to ensure she was set up for success. After trialing different brands, Isabella chose the Ponto and started her high school days with a Ponto Plus Power on a softband. “The Ponto was a lot clearer, had less feedback and had a sleek design, while the other options sounded robotic,” she explains.
And in a school of more than 3,000 kids, her Ponto made a difference. Whether she was taking part in group projects, communicating with classmates in the cafeteria, or socializing in the courtyard.
“In the classroom, the new lecture style of teaching where the teacher moves about the room would have normally been really difficult for me to hear, but my Oticon Medical Streamer helps. I wear my Streamer and the teachers use an FM system to send sound to my Streamer which sends sound to my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez
Connecting with other Ponto users at local events
As Isabella now plans for college next year, she and her family have started researching abutment surgery. Surgery can come with a lot of questions and we know that conversation and discussion through the lens of experience is the most powerful tool in making the right decision for the best hearing care. After attending a bone anchored hearing meetup in Georgia, hosted by Ross Wiseman earlier this year, Isabella and Lupita were able to meet other Ponto users who wear their Pontos on abutments.
“We were able to connect with Ross and two other women who had the Ponto abutment surgery at the meetup. They explained their experience with the surgery and how their hearing had improved,” Lupita explained.
Wearing a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System in high school
Isabella currently plays competitive volleyball with her Ponto, which she says helps her hear coaches and teammates.
“I never play without my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez
As she’s grown older, she has gained more confidence and become used to educating her teachers and fellow students on what it means to have a hearing loss. To other young people with hearing loss who may be struggling with self-confidence, she says, “Don’t be ashamed. Everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with you.”