From Single-Sided Deafness to Stereo Hearing: Kylie’s Story
Kylie lost her hearing in one ear after an inner ear infection when she was 38 years old. In this article, the 42-year-old singer and occupational therapist tells us the reasons she went for a MED-EL implant and audio processor, and the listening goals she has achieved with single-sided deafness (SSD) so far.
My name is Kylie. I’m from Australia, and I’m a mother of two, an occupational therapist, and a singer. Despite my hearing loss, music is my number one hobby. In my free time, I love to play the piano, crochet, do yoga, and play tennis.
Sudden Hearing Loss After an Inner Ear Infection
My hearing loss was sudden. I woke up deaf in one ear, but I didn’t notice immediately as I was also extremely nauseous and dizzy at the same time, and I felt very unwell in general. All these symptoms were caused by an inner ear infection. I then decided to go to the doctor and was immediately sent to the hospital.
There I got treated for my ear infection and was told that it would take three to six weeks before the symptoms would subside. I decided to rest for a couple of weeks and eventually got better. Unfortunately, I noticed that I was still unable to hear although 10 to 12 weeks had already gone by since my ear infection.
An audiologist found out that there is no medical reason for my hearing loss, and a hearing test showed terrible results on one side. One of my ears was still able to detect sound, but it all sounded very distorted. I was not able to understand words anymore. I found out that the inner ear infection caused damage to the cochlea which is not typical for this type of infection. That is when I found out that my hearing loss would be permanent, and it was a real shock to be diagnosed with single-sided deafness (unilateral hearing loss) as I was only 38 at that time.
Understanding Hearing Loss
But although the news was obviously devastating, I was so thankful to have such an amazing audiologist who showed so much compassion and empathy for my situation. It was amazing to see that even on the worst day of my life, she treated me like a person and understood that hearing loss was a big deal for me.
I work in an aged care setting, and in my client group, many people have hearing loss. Most of these people use hearing aids with varying degrees of success, and only occasionally does someone have a hearing implant. I have done a lot of training around communicating with people who have hearing loss, but when I lost my hearing on one side, I found a whole new level of understanding and empathy for the topic of hearing loss.
People with normal hearing can never understand the depth of how distressing hearing loss is. It can be frustrating for a hearing person to talk to someone with hearing loss, but now I know that it’s much worse for the person who cannot hear. I now understand much better how it feels to try your best to hear, but it just doesn’t work.
From Single-Sided Deafness to a Cochlear Implant
Even months after I’d found out about my hearing loss, I was still hoping that something could be done about it. I tried to live around my hearing loss, constantly hoping for improvement. It was shocking to see that after the hearing test revealed so much damage in my ear, all attempts at trialing hearing aids were skipped. No audiologist even recommended trying them as so much was already damaged, and no amplification technology could restore my hearing. An ENT recommended that I get a cochlear implant instead.
But first I wanted to do some research. I found a lot of useful information online where I spoke to cochlear implant users on the Hearpeers forum who shared their personal experiences with me. I really wanted to make sure I understood what I was choosing to do.
Why I Got a SONNET Audio Processor
My research helped me with my decision to get a cochlear implant. I also chose to have a SONNET audio processor. This is why I don’t regret my choice:
- It’s very easy to wear. I don’t notice it at all as it’s very lightweight and small.
- The maintenance is super simple.
- It has never fallen off during any kind of sports activity, so I don’t have any concerns about losing it.
- I can still wear hats and helmets with it, and it won’t be in the way.
- After my research, I also felt like a SONNET would give me the absolute best hearing, especially with music.
- I love using AudioStream with my SONNET. The sound quality is amazing, and it helps me a lot with rehab. I can put it on in the morning and then listen to podcasts for hours without having to fiddle with any cables.
Measuring Improvement by Reaching Goals
I knew that I had to start my rehabilitation quickly after activation to see progress. Of course, I measured my progress in different ways. I knew there was some improvement when I moved one level up in my rehab app or when I was able to watch a video with the captions off. But my hearing progress was noticeable in daily life experiences, and this was much more meaningful. I wore my audio processor all day, and it was awesome to see that my efforts paid off. I soon noticed that I was able to do and hear more things in my life again, and my single-sided deafness was barely noticeable:
- Without my CI, I couldn’t hear my children behind me in the car. Everything just sounded like noise, and I didn’t understand what they were saying. I had to turn around and look at them to have a conversation. When I got my implant, the noise turned into voices again. We were again able to have chats in the car, and we even sang during car rides.
- Before I got my CI, I couldn’t hear people talking or walking in another room. It always felt like people were creeping up on me. With my stereo hearing, not only do I know that someone is talking to me, but I can also understand what is being said clearly.
- Before I got implanted, I constantly had to take care of where I sat to be able to hear everyone. Because of my single-sided deafness, people learned to adapt and sit in a place where I could hear them. The seating always had to be rearranged for me which was annoying and exhausting and sometimes not possible. Today, I can sit wherever I want; I don’t have to avoid crowded places with a lot of background noise, and I hear everything clearly.
With my cochlear implant, I’m much more flexible in daily life. I don’t have to adapt just because of my hearing loss; I can easily communicate at work, and meeting friends and family has become much easier. My CI helps me live a more relaxed life.
Thank you, Kylie!
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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.
April 20, 2023
I would love more information as to what rehab app(s) you use? I have looked and haven't found anything. I to have single-sided deafness (accident/head injury) and a single Sonnet implant, but mine sounds like horrible static and I pick up on maybe 0.5% of words but only if I am completely, totally focused on listening to the implant. It has actually made my good ear hearing worse (understanding speech/words) - to date - really would like to see some improvement. Fingers still crossed.
April 21, 2023
Hi Eric, thank you for reaching out. We recommend to get your cochlear implant and audio processor checked and fitted by an audiologist. Please reach out to your local MED-EL team to get in touch with an audiologist here: https://www.medel.com/clinic-finder. They are also best equipped to help you find rehab apps that can help with your hearing. All the best, Gordana