By Tim Jones
My hearing problems began at the age of 10, but were only recognised at 15 when I was given a body worn hearing aid. I hated it and often refused to use it. My hearing got worse due to repeated ear infections (chronic otitis media). My school work suffered and I dropped out of further education.
When I was 21, I wanted to get married and I needed to get my life together, so I purchased a post aural hearing aid and started using it all the time. I got a place for teacher training and later worked in special schools where the class sizes were small and I could cope. Surgical intervention followed, including three radical mastoidectomies, which left me with a severe mixed loss in both ears. I then retrained as a Teacher of the Deaf.
A new beginning
Through wearing two post aural hearing aids, I had suffered from repeated ear infections. I had also become very introverted and self-conscious and I was reluctant to go out and engage socially with friends and colleagues. I was assessed for a Baha and had my first implant fitted in 2001. It quite literally changed my life. However, I did move from a world of stereo to mono and I found this hard to manage in many noisy situations. In 2010 I was lucky enough to have a second Baha fitted.
The impact of bilateral Baha on my life
With the first Baha, my ears were opened and the infections stopped. The sound was good and I had no difficulty in adjusting to it. Most importantly it gave me a feeling of confidence and freedom. I went out more and started to lead a fuller life. I started doing things I had always been afraid to do, for example learning to play the saxophone.
When the second Baha was fitted I gained the added benefit from understanding where sound was coming from and I no longer had a deaf side. I could cope better in work environments and in social gatherings. I’ve become more at ease when I meet people now and I’m certainly much happier.
Being a Volunteer Advocate
I’ve retired as a Teacher of the Deaf now, but I feel it’s important to carry on the work I’ve been doing, sharing my experiences. I want to help demystify the Baha for people and show people how it can enhance their lives.
In the past my own stories and words really helped the children I worked with and it’s great to be able to talk to more people now as a Volunteer Advocate. I can explain what it’s like to have a Baha fitted, how it impacts on everyday life and what an enormous difference a second implant can make.
Tim, 61, lives in Doncaster. He was fitted with his first implant in 2001 at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, and his second in 2010. Tim has the Baha Intenso sound processor.
To find out more about Cochlear's advocacy programme, read Advocacy Manager Kate King's article , or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.