Miss Single Sided

Anticipation

It’s here, the day I get to find out if I’m eligible for a BAHA.

As I walk towards the hospital my stomach is in knots, and a sense of dread washes over me. Like most people I hate hospitals, the smell is just unsettling. We find the ENT department fine and I hand in my letter in return for a pager which I’m told will buzz when they’re ready. I sit down and look around. There’s a young boy, no older than 14 sitting opposite who has a BAHA, my first thoughts are sympathetic as he’s so young, which are quickly replaced by ‘he’s lucky, I didn’t have that choice when I was younger’ (resentment?) and then to ‘actually was it a choice, or did he have to have it’ (back to sympathy?) and I resign myself to the fact that whatever his story he looks happy, and stop myself pondering.

The buzzer goes off, its loud (for obvious reasons!) and I jump. I’m told to sit in the next room for my hearing text. Great, here we go again, let’s see how epically I fail the test this time.

Rob is with me for moral support, but for me it’s more so he can fully understand why I’m thinking of a solution like this. You can’t really explain how deaf you are to someone when its single sided because you can hear them most of the time and there’s nothing to bench mark it from.

The really stylish oversized earmuffs are on my head.  It’s not a good look as my cheeks are all squished. Nice.

“Press the button when you hear the beep”

Beep …..beep…beep…. nothing.

But I can tell Rob has heard it by his face. And I strain to hear more. Nothing.

Then, she adds ‘interference’ noise to mimic a busy background and repeats. Same again.

This goes on for a good 15 -20 minutes and my head is banging!

She explains about my hearing result, nothing I haven’t heard before (no pun intended) and then pops a small headband on me. The test is repeated except this time my left ear isn’t covered. And I hear the beeps.

Again and again.  Weird.

I look at Rob and smile as if to get reassurance that she is beeping the machine and he smiles back. Ok – this just got interesting.

Back in the waiting area and Rob tells me there are two people nearby talking about the BAHA, it’s the young boy again and an older man. But I can’t hear what they are saying. There’s a buzz about the place, not your usual nervous tension in a hospital, more like happy anticipation?

Mr Johnson calls me in. Standard questions with the usual answers, young child, suspected mumps, hate noisy places, can’t hear male voices, struggle in public places…..then he says ‘why now?’ and my eyes start to well up as I’m telling him it’s because if I have children I want to hear them. Then without warning as I’m still talking he puts a slightly different headband on me and continues to talk. I’m listening really carefully, but its making no difference, nothing is louder….

Then he spins my chair around

“can you hear me?”

“Yes….and you’re talking to my deaf side”

I feel sick

“I’m not being rude, but I need you to face the wall”

He spins my chair to face the corner of the room – there’s now 4 people behind me and I can’t see them, no mirrors, no reflection, nothing to help me cheat and lip read,  and I get that deep pit of my stomach dread that I won’t hear, the same feeling I always get when I panic if I can’t see who’s talking because I can’t locate noise .

“say something to her”

And I hear Robs voice…… “she’ll shout at me if I talk to her bad side”

I spin the chair round and say “eeee no I won’t!” – but I spin to the left. Because I heard him on my left.

My head is spinning, I blurt out “does that mean I can hear stereo?!” he spins my chair so my good ear is away from him again “you tell me”… ….and I smile, and through my tears, he smiles back.

The rest is a blur of questions about surgery, upgrades, mobile apps, aftercare and before I know it I’m leaving the hospital with a trial version (the headband) to keep for two weeks and a follow up appointment.

A few hours later when I’m alone I decide to put the headband back on and turn some music on. Ironically its a song called Titanium, I’ve heard it loads of times before but not like this. Not in stereo. Is this what its meant to be like? Is this ‘normal’ hearing?

I can’t explain it, it’s weird…….. and a few songs later I take the headband off.

This is going to take a lot of getting used to.

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15 comments on “Anticipation

  1. Michael
    July 3, 2015

    I’m really interested to read more about your experiences here. I’m surprised it worked as well as you have said, and very happy that the test-run is showing such promising results for you. 🙂

    Like

  2. Pingback: Trying on a Baha Softband | The Baha Blog

  3. Laura
    July 21, 2015

    Interesting to read, I had a brain tumour removed 6 weeks ago so suffering from SSD and have been told a BAHA might be an option for me in 6 months so will be interested to follow your story.

    Like

    • Carly Machin
      July 23, 2015

      Glad you liked it, sorry to hear what’s happened to you. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a BAHA will be an option for you, hopefully it will be. In the meantime I’ll keep posting really honest things about the process so you have more of an idea what to expect.

      Like

  4. Laurie
    July 22, 2015

    I go in tomorrow to have my BAHA attached. It’s been a year long process for me. I have bilateral hearing loss and only one baha for now so I won’t be stereo but maybe I can have a real conversation.

    Like

    • Carly Machin
      July 23, 2015

      I really hope it works for you Laurie!! let me know how your surgery went, I’d be interested to hear your story. Maybe one day you’ll get stereo too.

      Like

  5. Kelly Martin
    July 31, 2015

    I have SSD too, and just tried a soft band with a BAHA 4. I’m in my 40s and have been deaf in one ear all my life. It felt a little weird to wear this thing and to be honest I couldn’t always tell if it was working. As a test I put an ear plug in my good ear to force all my hearing through the BAHA. It worked and was neat but was also actually pretty quiet in the default setting so I had to turn up the volume to max. Even then I could hear but it sounded different than natural hearing and took some getting used to. I’m told following the surgery with the abutment connection the hearing volume level and quality will be better vs. trying it out with a soft band. I returned the soft band and decided to proceed with BAHA surgery since any help is better than nothing… Previously I tried Phonak CROS hearing aids for people with SSD which worked fine, I just couldn’t get used to wearing a hearing aid in my good ear + one in my deaf ear, because it partially blocks some of the natural sounds in my good ear. BAHA seems more up my alley, and while it’s more expensive too, here in Canada it’s covered by my health insurance. I’m going to go with the BAHA 5 so I can make adjustments to it using my phone…

    I’m told it’s not true stereo sound… with a BAHA you’ll hear on both sides for the first time, but basically the sound is processed on the same side. Unless there’s some microsecond delay from the BAHA vs your good ear, I don’t know if locating sounds will be better or worse, or if it really simulates stereo sounds or not. I guess we’ll see… my surgery is still 3-6 months away. Anyone born with SSD has never heard stereo sound before so we don’t know what we’re missing.

    I wish they had this technology when I was a little kid. Back then the ENT specialists couldn’t do anything for me. I’ve spent 40 years getting by but I’ll give this a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kari
    August 4, 2015

    I enjoy reading everyones stories and anticipating updates. I have SSD which was a sudden onset and occurred 19 years ago. I am ready to move forward. I am looking at the BAHA attract. I saw the ENT and he says Im an excellent candidate. I am scheduled to see the Audiologist to try the soft band. I am looking forward to determining if this is a good fit. Hope everyone is well and seeks resolution also!!

    Like

    • Carly Machin
      August 14, 2015

      Thanks Kari – can’t imagine what it must have been like to have sudden SSD, must have taken some getting used to!! Really hope the soft band trial goes well for you!!

      Like

  7. Penny
    August 13, 2015

    Hello I’m really enjoying all the stories about your BAHA. I have SSD my whole like. I’m in my forties and have my Appt to try the soft band tomorrow. I really can’t wait but nervous at the same time. Please Keep sharing I really would like to know as much as I can. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carly Machin
      August 14, 2015

      Thanks Penny, its really nice to get feedback like this and to know its useful. Hope the your appointment went well today – I was so nervous, but excited at the same time. Its a lot to take in but I’m sure you’ll be fine. Good luck with it!!

      Like

  8. dsmadsen
    August 18, 2015

    Was SSD for more years than I care to count and I got really good at head swiveling to hear someone talking on my non-hearing side. I’ve had my Baha4 Attract for a little over a year and will only give it up when it comes time for an upgrade. Did the CROS hearing aid thing a few years back and never will do that again! I don’t care how weird I must look talking to air when using my Phone Clip as a Bluetooth. To anyone considering this I say go for it! You have nothing to lose except being SSD.

    Like

    • Carly Machin
      August 20, 2015

      Thank you so much for the reassurance!! It’s lovely to hear how well its working for someone first hand, and you’re right, I have nothing to lose – bring on the looking weird talking into air 🙂

      Like

  9. applemommy
    September 9, 2015

    I have a 2 year child who was born with SSD. We tried a hearing aid but it did not seem like it was working. Therefore, we were told to consider a BAHA. My husband and I are at odds on the direction we want to take. Our son seems “fine” and behaves no different than any of my other kids without a hearing loss. However, everyone tells me that once he goes to school, the BAHA would make a world of a difference to him and that I am doing an injustice by not offering it as an option (albeit, their message is softer than my delivery of it). Therefore, I am happy to try the softband (since that is his only option for his age), but how invasive/non-invasive is the surgery? Having it anchored into his skull is terrifying to me. Thoughts?

    Like

    • Carly Machin
      September 14, 2015

      Hi applemommy – I think the softband would be worth a go, at least then you can see how beneficial it could be without committing to surgery. Personally I don’t think the surgery looks invasive, but I guess I’ll know more once I have it! I think when people hear the words ‘drill’ and ‘skull’ it sounds terrifying, but its a simple procedure. Have you been in touch with the Baha Blog? they are fab, and there are loads of stories from parents who have been in a similar situation to you. http://thebahablog.com/ – and they are the experts on the surgery so could help you weigh everything up.

      Like

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