Plagued by debilitating ear infections throughout her childhood, Katie had a Baha® fitted as a teenager. Due to several factors, Katie recently moved from a Baha solution to the Cochlear™ Osia® system. Here she talks about her experience with hearing loss and the difference the Osia system has made to her life.
“I experienced persistent ear infections from around 9 months old and I was gradually losing my hearing due to repeated perforated ear drums and resulting scar tissue. As a result, I received hearing aids when I was age 6. These worked great for the most part, however the ear infections didn’t stop. I was told to frequently let air into my ears to help them heal but, being young and desperate to not feel excluded, I refused to listen and so the infections continued. When I was around 14 years old my doctor suggested an alternative type of hearing aid. One that would use bone conduction and finally allow much-needed respite from the moisture my hearing aids were trapping in my ear. This was when I had my Baha fitted. I had such high hopes and was excited to finally have an alternative solution. They allowed me to take out my other hearing aids, let my ears breathe and finally the ear infections became less frequent.
Whilst the Baha system drastically improved my quality of life, there were a few minor downsides that, as I matured, made them a tad incompatible with both my hearing loss and my lifestyle. I couldn’t fully partake in swimming or water sports and the retention was not optimal meaning I couldn’t wear them all the time, particularly whilst running; something that I really love. After a lengthy stint on the waiting list due to Covid, I had the surgery to remove the Baha implant and put in the Osia system. This has been the perfect solution and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Katie is currently an English degree student at university in Scotland.
“Looking back, throughout school no one made any comments about my hearing loss, and I never struggled to make friends because of it. However, there were definitely moments where it left me feeling frustrated, excluded, or anxious. For fear of standing out, I wouldn’t ask the teacher to sit me near the front of the class and so I would struggle through the more boisterous lessons, never completely confident I knew what the instructions were. I also never had swimming lessons because I wouldn’t have been able to hear the teacher, so I taught myself which was lonely. As a teenager, I felt my hearing loss prevented me from going to events and trying new things as I felt uncomfortable in places which restricted how well I could hear others.
The Osia system has improved my quality of life both practically and personally. I have far fewer ear infections, can go running wearing my sound processors meaning I am safer, and I went swimming for the first time recently using the waterproof case and I could chat to my friend in the pool – marvellous! I have definitely noticed a difference in my communication skills in louder locations, especially restaurants where I always struggled. I can enjoy the atmosphere rather than feel excluded. I was part way through my degree at university when I switched to the Osia system and now I choose to have subtitles for online classes as a safety net rather than a necessity. Moreover, I think I have generally grown in confidence in all aspects of life.
It’s the little intricacies of the Osia system that have made the biggest difference to me. They are simple things that most people take for granted but they all add up to a better hearing experience for me.”
Watch Katie’s story here.