Sophie Aldred is the recipient of bilateral BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implants. She was the first bilateral BONEBRIDGE recipient in the United Kingdom and today enjoys hearing with both her ears. We’re excited to share her story here on The MED-EL Blog.
When I was a baby my mum noticed that things weren’t right with my hearing. I got glue ear as a baby like a lot of children and was told I’d grow out of it, but I never did. To treat the glue ear I had several grommet operations from when I was a small child up until I was 12 years old. Then I had several T-Tube operations from ages 12–17. But I still have glue ear to this day.
I started using hearing aids when I was about 18 years old. They caused constant infections inside my ears, just like the Grommets and T-Tubes did. So, I kept going to see my general practitioner and ENT consultant to see what could be done. I was eventually told about a bone anchored implant, called a BAHA, and that it might help me. Because of this I was referred to the ENT surgeon Dr. Green at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
When my appointment came round I was introduced to the BAHA, and also to a second bone conduction implant called the BONEBRIDGE. The BONEBRIDGE was fairly new at the time and had only been implanted in 4 people at the Manchester Royal Infirmary at that point. I was told the difference between the two different types of hearing implants and I then went home to decide which one I would get. I knew that I would get one of the two because then I could stop wearing hearing aids and stop getting infections.
I chose the BONEBRIDGE and it wasn’t a hard decision at all. With the BAHA I would have a screw poking out of my head at all times, whereas the BONEBRIDGE can’t be seen if I’m not wearing the external processor. That’s what made my decision.
I fell in love with my BONEBRIDGE. I loved all the sounds I was able to hear. But, it was still hard work hearing in certain situations. I could only hear from my left side. If I went out to a restaurant or pub it could be quite hard work to hear well. So, I decided to get a second, bilateral, BONEBRIDGE.
Going bilateral is the best decision I have ever made. I couldn’t imagine life without my magic ears. It has completed me.
Already I feel so out of my comfort zone if I don’t wear them. When wearing the bilateral BONEBRIDGEs I don’t have to be in the same room as the person I’m talking to, and looking at them, to hear them now. That makes such a big difference in life. I’m now looking forward to getting a job, starting a career, and sticking with it; whereas before I’d have too much time off with infections and operations so I ended up losing jobs. I’m also hopeful to complete my British Sign Language courses so I can sign and go on to giving back to the deaf community.
Living in the UK and thinking about getting a bone conduction implant? You can ask Sophie all about her experiences with BONEBRIDGE via the HearPeers Mentor Programme.