"I let other people talk. I no longer have to get close to people to hear what they are saying and I have noticed a change in how people interact with me. They seem more relaxed."
When Andy started to get infections from wearing a hearing aid in his 50s he started to panic. His left ear already had poor hearing quality after being treated for a discharging ear since he was a child and he feared that he was about to embark on a similar journey with his ‘good’ ear.
He was at a stalemate. Working in the noisy environment of a steelworks Andy needed all the help with his hearing that he could get. And his new partner at the time, Kathryn, said that if he continued to turn up the volume of the TV at home, she too would have a hearing problem.
“Having had hearing problems all my life I developed strategies,” says 58-year-old Andy, who lives in Deepcar, South Yorkshire and has three grown up children between him and his now long-term partner Kathryn.
“In order to hear what people were saying, I would invade their personal space. Friends who have always known me were never bothered by this, but you could tell that others were uncomfortable,” says Andy, whose symptoms were caused by Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM), a chronic inflammation of the middle ear and mastoid cavity.
“I had a somewhat insular, very close group of friends. I was loud and interrupted as soon as I thought I understood what the question was. Or I simply would not laugh at the right time because I had missed the punch-line of a joke,” he says.
It was a friend of Kathryn’s who suggested that a Baha bone conduction hearing implant might be the answer and that she could loan him a trial Alice band version.
It worked and after some tests and a two-week trial at The Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Andy proceeded with the day case procedure in May 2012. He hasn’t looked back.
“The surgery was straightforward, all done and dusted in the morning. I went home that afternoon and wasn’t in any pain,” he says.
Around three months later the Cochlear™ Baha® 4 Connect device was switched on. Andy could hear better than he had all his adult life. “It was fantastic. Things sounded normal but the first thing I noticed was how loud the room was. When I asked what all the noise was I was told that it was the air conditioning,” he says.
“I remember going down into the hospital café and sitting there listening. I had bought myself a banana and getting back to the car I sat inside and peeled the skin off. I could actually hear the skin tearing and I was fascinated.”
Hearing clearly also gave Andy the confidence to go back to college to study for a highly regarded transferable qualification, which helped him to develop some of the skills which led him to being promoted to health and safety manager.
“I can now sit in meetings, hear what is being talked about and join in the conversation.
“I let other people talk. I no longer have to get close to people to hear what they are saying and I have noticed a change in how people interact with me. They seem more relaxed.
“I have my breakfast outside and just listen to the birds. I never knew there were so many around us.
“I would say for anyone who gets the chance to have this technology they should go for it. It has changed my life, the way people react towards me and how I communicate with them. Also, I no longer have to turn up the TV and risk damaging Kathryn’s hearing too.”
The information on this website is for educational purposes, and is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional to diagnose or treat a hearing or health problem.