After frequent middle ear infections as a child, Lina from Germany noticed hearing loss in her left ear, which was gradually affecting her everyday life more and more. Several surgeries later Lina knew she had to do something about her conductive hearing loss and decided to go for a middle ear implant. In today’s guest article she talks about her journey to VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE and why she’s sharing her hearing journey on social media.
My name is Lina Marie, I’m originally from Hannover in Northern Germany and am 23 years old. I currently live in Göttingen, Germany, and study law. My hobbies include reading, running, and spending time with family and friends.
Conductive Hearing Loss Caused By Otitis Media
When I was a child I frequently suffered from middle ear infections, also known as otitis media. To try and prevent fluid building up in my ear and causing further infections, I got grommets several times. But after the last grommet fell out, my perforated ear drum didn’t heal completely. I also started to notice mild hearing loss on my left side. Therefore I had my first major surgery – known as tympanoplasty – in 2007. The aim of the surgery was to close the ear drum and repair the ossicles, which were scarred, probably from my many middle ear infections. Over the next few years, this surgery had to be repeated several times (in 2008, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018) because unfortunately it did not result in any lasting improvement.
Everyday Life With Hearing Loss
Over the years the hearing in my left ear deteriorated gradually. At first, my hearing loss did not affect my life very much. For a long time I was able to avoid difficulties in understanding by always standing on the left side of people. This way I could use my healthy, right ear.
But by the time I took my high school diploma in 2014, the hearing loss had gotten worse and I decided to try a hearing aid. Unfortunately it could not help me at all. The ossicles in my middle ear, which are responsible for the transmission of sound, were too damaged. That meant that not even sounds amplified by a hearing aid could reach my inner ear.
With the start of my studies in 2016 the situation got more and more difficult. Conversations in noisy environments, e.g. in restaurants, the canteen, the lecture hall or simply in a bigger group, became increasingly exhausting. At some point I could not follow conversations properly anymore, which made me very sad. Another issue was that I didn’t dare talk about my hearing loss right away when I was in an unfamiliar environment and met new people. But as soon as I overcame that and did talk about it, people were very understanding and tried to support me the best way they could. Nevertheless, I avoided conversations in noisy environments or large groups as much as possible, because I could not enjoy them anymore. That’s why I felt lonely and isolated, despite all the sympathy from the people around me. I felt worse and worse and the last surgery in 2018 was not successful either.
Last Resort: Middle Ear Implant
In early 2019 the doctors at my hospital told me that my last resort was a hearing implant, more specifically a VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE Middle Ear Implant. When I heard about this possibility, I did not hesitate. I knew that an implant and another surgery were the right way to go. The prospect of better hearing was worth it to me.
The VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE struck me as using very advanced technology. It also promised natural sound and the implant was quite small. Those were two more reasons why I decided to go for it.
The time before the surgery was very emotional for me. I was in the middle of preparing for important exams and the surgery had to be postponed twice. In May 2019 I finally underwent surgery in Hannover, Germany, and the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE was implanted during a five-hour-long surgery. The surgery was complication-free and the first tests also showed positive results. My first fitting was scheduled for the end of June. Prior to the activation and first fitting I was very tense and nervous. I was scared that this attempt to return to hearing had also failed, and I would never be able to hear on my left side. Luckily the first fitting immediately showed positive and promising results.
Life With The VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE
Thanks to the implant I am now able to hear on my left side again. I am still overwhelmed and fascinated by that. The implant helps me a lot in daily life. Even though I do not hear 100%, I can follow every conversation, even in very noisy environments. I like to go out and socialize again and don’t mind being in a group of people anymore. The implant gave me back my quality of life, and I am very grateful for that.
The sound of the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE is very natural, and I have never experienced it as disturbing. Wearing an audio processor doesn’t bother me either. Most of the time I don’t even notice that it’s there.
Advice For Others
My advice for others: Face your fears! My life has always been – and will probably always be – impacted by the fear of losing my hearing completely. But I have not – and will never – give up on finding a way to avoid that, no matter how many tears and how much energy that might take. The implant has not only given me quality of life, but also a stronger feeling of safety. I will probably never fully overcome the fear of losing my hearing completely. But I’ve learned to live with it. In the future I also want to learn lipreading and German sign language, as I hope that these skills will make me feel even safer.
My Hearing Loss On Social Media
Recently I shared my hearing loss story and my decision for a hearing implant on social media. On the one hand I did it to encourage other people in the same or similar situation. On the other hand I wanted to bring more reality to the supposedly perfect world of social media. Along with the many benefits of social media (e.g. the possibility to connect with people), they also offer a platform for “perfect” self-presentation. Social media has always given me the impression that perfection is desirable and the measure of all things. People often forget that behind every “perfect” Instagram profile there is a human being, with all their flaws and weaknesses. Everyone has problems, and it is perfectly okay not to be perfect. In my opinion, perfection should not be the ultimate goal in life. I wanted to emphasize this, and that is why I decided to make my hearing loss public.
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Read more about Silke’s story, who also talks about her journey to VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE.
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