Five years ago, my beloved encouraged me to get a BAHA – Bone Attached Hearing Aid. It’s a device that’s implanted in my skull which bypasses the usual hearing apparatus and carries sound vibrations directly to the middle ear.
It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that this tiny device has profoundly changed my life.
I’ve always been an introvert, and social situations make me uncomfortable … but I say that based on all of those years avoiding them because my deafness made them so very awkward. The elaborate dance of positioning myself correctly relative to speakers so that I could hear out of my right ear, hurrying to be the first to be seated at a dinner so that I can grab the left-most seat, and avoiding multi-speaker conversations because I’m bound to miss most of it, has been going on since I was 12, and it’s hard to remember how things were before that.
While I still can’t tolerate super-loud settings – which makes most conference social events something of a chore, endured for the all-important networking – the Baha has changed normal conversation from a painful ordeal, preferably to be avoided, into something more normal and routine, where I can, for the most part, understand what is being said, the first time, without needing several increasingly embarrassing repetitions.
There are still scenarios where it’s hard to hear. The very loud places, as mentioned above, for one. Also, conversations with many speakers tend to be difficult, but apparently the latest model of Cochlear’s product has intelligent selective filtering, as well as noise reduction stuff in it, and perhaps I can upgrade some day for an even better experience.
Being able to hear has made me more confident, more sure of my opinions, more assertive in meetings, and less irritable with soft-spoken people. And far less awkward in social settings.
And I can sit anywhere I want at dinner.