Tag Archives: struggle

A Reminder: Speak Up About the Things that Matter

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us to fight for big things! We know that you’ve had to overcome the struggle of hearing loss for yourself or for your child. We also know that hearing loss impacts quality of life and relationships, so it’s no small matter.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, please share how you have overcome or are in the process of overcoming your struggle in the comments section below– we’d love to add your story to this post. It’s not not an easy journey, let’s keep inspiring each other!

Robb Boss: Let Go to Overcome

Written by Robb Boss

“Cholesteatoma” – just hearing the condition name without an explanation could make any adult scared for the future. Then, finding out it causes hearing loss adds a whole new layer of fear. But, I was 14 years old. And, even though Cholesteatoma did cause my hearing to deteriorate, I adapted.

At the young age of 14, I learned to stay on a certain side of people so I could hear with my good ear and that just became the norm with me – a natural way that I coped.

Over the past ten years, my hearing in my right ear drastically decreased. It began to affect my personal and professional life. I’m the father of six kids, five of them girls with gentle, soft voices. Conversations and all types of communication were becoming very difficult and exhausting. Not to mention, we all know how important it is for young ladies to be “heard.”

All relationships are built on clear communication. More and more, I didn’t always hear what was being said. I would assume things and fill in the gaps to compensate for what I didn’t actually hear. It got to the point where there was a lot of miscommunication on my part. I would think I heard the whole story and I didn’t.

I discussed my issues with my Otolaryngologist in 2008 and he encouraged me to think about a bone anchored solution. There was something about the permanent nature of that option that made me hesitate. I wasn’t concerned about the surgery, which I knew would be minor. I suppose it was about accepting the fact that I was no longer able to adapt or overcome my hearing loss as I had in the past. Only a handful people knew about my hearing issues. It was very humbling to realize that I might need help that would be so permanent and so visible. I still wasn’t ready to take that step.

Instead, my doctor tried to manipulate the bones in my ear to see if that would improve my situation. It didn’t, and I became increasingly frustrated and exhausted trying to hear people. It was especially difficult communicating with my oldest daughter. She has a tone of voice that I couldn’t hear at all. After asking her for the third time to repeat, she would say, “Never mind.” I realized it was frustrating for me, but even more so for my wife and kids.

My Turning Point

My turning point came while attending a sales conference. My wife and children had come along and were outside at the pool. I went out during one of the breaks and my wife was chatting with a woman who I didn’t know. I walked up and joined the conversation. The woman was actually someone who was with my company but in another division. I thought the conversation was going well. At one point, I couldn’t hear exactly what she said and guessed that she was asking me about my job.

After we had talked for a few minutes, she looked at me and said, half humorously but with a clear message, “Are you in sales? If so, you need to take listening 101.” I was surprised and a little shaken. I had never told anyone at work about my hearing loss. Only my family and close friends knew. I had always managed to overcome and adapt. After that conversation, I began to reconsider the possibility that I might benefit from a bone anchored hearing solution.

My doctor had used bone anchored hearing solutions for his patients for years and was very confident that they could make a positive difference for me. His office was actually converting to the new Ponto System at the time. I considered acting on his recommendations. He had many positive things to say about the Ponto System as “the next generation” of bone anchored solutions. I realized I was a patient that could choose to go with the newest technology.

I did some research online and I liked what I saw. I talked to my audiologist, who was really excited about Ponto Pro’s new technology and Oticon Medical’s experience with hearing instruments and track record of innovation. It was exciting to be one of the first to experience the new innovation in that practice.

In November of 2009, the surgical procedure went well and the recovery was easy. I was ready to experience all of the good things I had heard about Ponto. I have to say that the fitting was pretty amazing. It is almost hard to describe what it was like being able to hear so much more clearly than with the trial band. I could even hear the background noise that most people probably hear all the time, but I hadn’t been able to before. It was truly an incredible sensation.

It was raining on the day I was fitted with Ponto Pro. When I drove home, I could actually hear the ping of the raindrops on my windshield. It was amazing!

A week later I attended a sales meeting in a large boardroom. The door out to the lobby was right behind me. I could hear what was going on in meeting and what was going on behind me in the hotel lobby. It’s really amazing.

Now, I catch myself sitting in a certain spot so I can hear the whole table and then I remember that I don’t have to anymore. Before I had to position myself carefully, and even then I would be staining to hear, old habits are difficult to break. With the directional microphones in my Ponto, I am hearing even more clearly at meetings and larger, noisy gatherings. It is also easier to hear when I’m driving the car and the kids have the radio going and my wife is speaking to me. Now we can talk easily and the experience is more enjoyable for all of us.

I have gone back to my audiologist to fine tune the sound processor to my individual preferences. I like that you can customized the processor for my individual hearing loss and that, if my hearing changes in the future, my Ponto can be readjusted.

It probably took a couple of weeks to really get used to the uniqueness of hearing all of the different sounds. Now I put my Ponto on in the morning and I don’t pay attention to it all day. I’ve actually gotten into the shower by mistake and then remembered I had it on. Wearing my Ponto has become so natural. It almost becomes part of you – and now I know that’s a good thing.

Do you have a story to share? Let us know by filling out this form, we’d love to give you a platform to share your experience with the world.

The Impact of Hearing Loss, Ponto Users Enjoy the Change

NBC News aired a spot on how hearing loss has such an impact on everyday life. We couldn’t agree more. So, we wanted to cover some of your struggles.

We asked, “What is or was the most difficult challenge in dealing with hearing loss? How has it changed since you’ve received your Ponto? Or, if you don’t have your Ponto yet, what changes are you most looking forward to?”

Special Education

Maurice Gerrits no longer has problems understanding others.
“The concept of a bone anchored hearing device was pointed out to me by my ENT in July 2011 as a possible solution for my conductive hearingloss. I was wearing an Oticon Vigo pro power hearingaid at that time, but it didn’t help me a lot.

My main problem was that I was unable to understand what people where saying a lot of the time. I also found it frustrating that I wasn’t able to localize sound.

After a test week with a headband and asking a lot of questions on the Baha user forum, I decided to get implanted. I chose the Oticon Medical system because of the freedom of choice and because the sound of the Ponto system was a lot better than the Baha BP100 from Cochlear. Also, the ease of use, overall durability and sturtyness of the attachment system made me go for the Ponto.

The implant procedure took place at the Radboud hospital in Nijmegen. The procedure, linear incision, went fast and without any problems. On activation day, I was absolutely amazed by the great sound quality. It was even better than with the headband.

I have no speech understanding problems anymore. Not even at a party or in other crowded environments.  When I go out jogging, I can hear everything around me perfectly. I am very happy with my Oticon Ponto Pro and can recommend it to anyone who has little to no benefit from conventional hearing aids.”

Carolyn Williamson, a special ed teacher, looks forward to hearing her students. 
“I have unilateral deafness after a labyrinthectomy in 2011 in an attempt to manage Meniere’s symptoms (it worked!). I just had my anchor implanted for the Ponto on May 23 – activation on August 16! I’m already planning my “Activation Celebration” party.

I am a special ed teacher, and the impact of my hearing loss isn’t just one big thing, it’s so many little things that, combined, add up to much more than the sum of the parts.

Colleagues who don’t know me think I’m stuck up because I don’t answer their greetings from behind me. I have to put every ounce of energy into hearing a student working on articulation (isn’t that kind of funny, me helping with articulation?). I absolutely hate faculty meetings because there is no good spot for me to hear everyone, and I don’t think they really believe I can’t sometimes. Announcements over the PA? I don’t even bother. I have headaches by the end of the school day, my eyes and brain are so tired from trying to pick up the slack. If my students are on the deaf side and I’m not looking at them, I miss the onset of seizures or asthma attacks. I now dislike talking on the phone. People don’t like watching TV with me because they’re getting headaches. With all of those negatives being said– I have no regrets because now I have a life again. I use the humorous approach to set others at ease and to guide them to an understanding of what I require if I am to communicate with them.

I had no guarantee of any hearing device when I opted for surgery, so getting the Ponto is frosting on the cake! I am so excited!”

Aaron Morris can’t wait to hear sounds he’s never heard before.
“I am looking forward to hearing sounds I’ve probably never heard before. And, I can’t wait to  enjoy surround sound like you’re supposed to. The best this will be being in a crowd of people and being able to hear the person in front of me talk better than the people ten feet away!” You can read more about Aaron’s story here.

Kristi Hurley won’t miss the frustrated looks. 
“The worst thing before my ponto pro why the frustrated looks from people when I’d say “Huh, what, can you repeat that?”

Now I don’t get that anymore…. now that I enjoy sound if only I could remember to take it off before bed, LOL!”

We know that you all have overcome struggles with your hearing loss. If you would like to share your experience, please let me know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.