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Fran S. - Cochlear Volunteer (Baha)

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My Story
I have Auto-Immune Inner Ear Disease (AIED). I suffer from chronic intermittent vertigo and imbalance. This also caused sudden sensorineural loss in my left ear and continues to potentially threaten hearing loss in my "good" ear. On my 21st birthday, I woke up deaf in my left ear. Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a potential effect of both the treatments I was doing at the time and the disease itself. I was a senior at college and I had struggled with intermittent hearing loss. Until I completely lost the hearing in my left ear, there was nothing I could do. The State Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing got me all the things I needed to succeed in my classes, including a CROS hearing aid - which just made all sounds louder with no way to manage where the sound came from. For a long time I struggled with my hearing impairment. You’d think that being deaf in one ear was really not that big of a deal with good hearing in the other ear. However, it can be very difficult. With unilateral hearing loss, I couldn't hear in a loud room, I felt isolated, I didn't hear in stereo, and I couldn't localize sound. I have been to meetings where someone has called my name, but I had no idea where it was from. When you hear in just one ear, everything sounds like it’s coming from that same side. And people think you’re ignoring them if they call and you don’t respond! For many years, I wore a CROS Aid. Or rather, wore it and turned it off most of the time. It was very annoying to hear the conversations behind me better than the conversation at our table at dinner. So, I turned it off. But I had to strategically sit so I could hear and read lips. This was the only thing available for me for over 15 years. I worked ten times harder than a hearing person to catch what was going on right in front of me. It was exhausting and stressful. But for many years, it was all I knew. In 2004, I went in for my semi-annual hearing and vertigo evaluation. At the time, my vertigo was well-managed, and I had very stable hearing in my right ear. The audiologist and ENT suggested the Baha Implant. I tried it. Since Baha sends uses the skull to conduct the sound to the good ear I was able to experience what it would be like to have the implant by using a pressure band. The difference was immediate and amazing. I had tears in my eyes. We went for a walk through the halls in the hospital. For the FIRST time in over 15 years, I heard someone whisper on my left side; I heard people’s footsteps behind me; I could tell where the sound was coming from. I was sold. I scheduled and had the outpatient procedure for seating the titanium abutment. After the titanium osseointegrated into my bone, I received my processor in August 2004. Currently, I am an artist living in Phoenix, AZ. I am a Cochlear Awareness Volunteer and where I, once again, I have an active social life and I can hear in stereo!
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Blog Entries
PROM NEXT SATURDAY!
Upgrade Update
5 Years Ago
It's been almost two weeks since I upgraded to the new BP100. I've been in several different social situations that I used to find taxing or near...
Upgraded to BP100!
5 Years Ago
Well, I'm so excited. Yesterday I finally got my new BP100 - upgrade from my Divino, which was dying. It did last me almost 5 years to the date. I...
Loose Abutment?
6 Years Ago
I was having trouble with my Baha; it was making that horrible feedback sound randomly when I turned my head. I made an appointment with my doctor to have...
My 7-year-old niece, who lives in MD, sees me a few times a year. We talk on the phone regularly, send each other letters and drawings, and keep in touch...
I love my Baha. REALLY. LOVE. IT. And I really am the type that would shout it off the rooftops (if heights didn't cause my vertigo to go wacky!). I...
I was lucky. I grew up hearing normally. As a result, my limited fluctuating hearing was not bad enough during high school and the first two years of college...
Yesterday I attended the Mesa Healthy Living Event. Since Mesa is so darned far from me, Heidi and I met at Starbucks near our homes and we carpooled. What a...
Yesterday's sketchcrawl was a great time! I had an opportunity to enjoy the Phoenix Botanical Gardens and to meet other artists. It was lovely. And I...
It's Friday! I love Friday because it means I get to spend some time with my husband on the weekend. Tomorrow, I'm headed out to a sketchcrawl...
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