How My Hybrid CI Helps Me Hear Music Better: Laura’s Story
Meet 38-year-old Laura, a musician and cochlear implant user from Finland. Laura lost her hearing in 2018 and could not carry on with everyday life and could no longer make music. In this article, she tells us how life with hearing loss felt and how an EAS system—consisting of cochlear implant technology for high-pitched sounds and hearing aid technology for low-pitched sounds—helped her go back to fully enjoying and making music again.
My name is Laura. I am from Helsinki, Finland, but I live in Austria. I’m a musician: I sing, play the piano and work as a music teacher. My main artistic project is my band Satuo. At the moment, I also lead a choir and am preparing for my role as a singer in a contemporary music and dance piece. My hobbies are writing, swimming, hiking, and long walks with my dog Ronja.
How I Lost My Hearing
My problems with my hearing started suddenly when I was 25 and studying jazz vocals in Vienna. One day, I noticed that I couldn’t hear in my left ear. My singing teacher sent me to the hospital and my hearing came back after one week of receiving cortisone. Unfortunately, I suddenly lost my hearing again a few months later. But this time cortisone and surgery did not bring my hearing on the left side back. I then decided to finish my studies with hearing in just one ear as I didn’t know about cochlear implants at that time, and a hearing aid wouldn’t help.
In 2012, when I was touring with my band, I woke up in the car on the way to a concert and I suddenly lost my hearing in the right ear as well. For the first time, I couldn’t hear at all. After some treatments at the hospital, my hearing came back and for the next six years, I was able to hear again. But in 2018, I suddenly lost my hearing completely. At this point, I wasn’t able to carry on with my everyday life or work at all.
Living Life With Hearing Loss
Until this day, the doctors haven’t been able to find a cause for my sudden bilateral hearing loss. I have the autoimmune disease ankylosing spondylitis which might have had an impact. Stress could also have been a factor. I will never know what exactly caused my hearing loss, so I had to find my peace with that.
I was able to live my life quite normally when I had one functioning ear, but it was challenging as a musician. When I lost the hearing in my other ear too, my life changed completely. Nevertheless, I always knew I wasn’t allowed to give up. At that time, I had a four-month-old baby and a three-year-old daughter to look after. Retrospectively, I remember the months I spent without hearing as a surreal experience. There was no time for grief or regret, I just had to function.
Communicating With Hearing Loss
Communication was the biggest problem during that time; we used speech-to-text solutions on our mobile phones or wrote down basic information, but my three-year-old daughter was very limited in her possibilities to communicate with me. It was very frustrating for all of us.
Why I Chose MED-EL
- Soon after losing hearing in both ears, I was recommended to go for cochlear implants. I chose MED-EL because it’s a company with a lot of expertise and experience.
- I had the impression that the company has the best network in my area, and from the start, they supported me on my journey back to music.
- I also like the sound quality and the wearing comfort of my devices as well as the accessories that I use with them.
How My EAS System Works
I use two SONNET audio processors. On my right side, I still have a tiny bit of hearing left, and that’s why I use an Electric Acoustic Stimulation system – or EAS system – there which helps me hear music better.
It’s a hybrid of a cochlear implant and a hearing aid. In my case, the low frequencies, which I can still hear minimally on the right side, are amplified and perceived by my natural residual hearing. I think that helped me in the beginning when I first had to learn how to use the CIs. Now I only notice minor differences: if I only use the CIs, I sing just as well, but my EAS system leaves the bass a little more natural sounding, and that gives me a bit of safety when I’m on stage.
Hearing With My EAS System
I did that once only with the left side, and once with the right side, with and without the EAS system. We didn’t find any significant differences—the sound is equally good for me on both sides today.
Great Sound Quality and More With My SONNETs
I hardly notice my CIs anymore or me being a person with hearing loss. With the right adjustments, the sound quality is so good. To me, almost everything sounds it did before I lost my hearing. My audio processors are comfortable to wear, and I also use both AudioLink and Artone when I practice singing, watch television, talk on the phone, and listen to audiobooks and music. I am very happy with my SONNET audio processors.
How My Cochlear Implants Impacted My Life
Without cochlear implants my life would be completely different. I have no idea what else I would be doing.
My CIs really changed my life! I can continue the profession I love.
Not being able to hear has such a huge impact on your life. The world and life are full of so many beautiful sounds. And CIs are a way to be able to enjoy this beautiful endless symphony. It takes time to learn to hear with CIs, but patience will be rewarded.
Thank you, Laura!
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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.