Life With Bimodal Hearing: Antonio’s Story
Antonio from Italy has had hearing loss since birth and has used hearing aids for a long time. Last year he got a cochlear implant on one side and has begun to experience the world of sounds as a bimodal user. Today he studies audiology and wants to raise awareness for hearing loss and life with bimodal hearing on his Instagram channel.
My name is Antonio, I am 25 years old and live in Turin, Italy. I dedicate myself a lot to art, love long walks in nature and I manage a social media channel about deafness and bimodal hearing. I’ve had difficulties hearing all my life. My hearing loss started at an early age and my comprehension slowly got worse, reaching a low during my teenage years. We never found out about the exact cause of my hearing loss, I only know that it is not because of a non-rare genetic condition and that it was probably acquired around birth. I always wanted to learn more about hearing and decided to study Audiology. At the moment, I’m pursuing my bachelor’s degree. My professional goal is to be able to help other people with hearing loss, especially cochlear implant users.
My Journey to Bimodal Hearing
Last year I decided to get a cochlear implant on my right side and so my journey to bimodal hearing began. In Italy your ENT surgeon chooses the cochlear implant for you, together with a multidisciplinary team, like audiologists or speech therapists. The surgeon looks at your case and decides which hearing implant by what manufacturer would be the best choice for you—but of course, as a future user you can also let them know if you have certain preferences.
My surgeon wanted to go for MED-EL and I was very happy with that choice, because it overlapped with what I was looking for in a CI system: What I liked about MED-EL was the great possibility of customizing the electrode array according to the needs of each patient and the possibility of preserving residual hearing. I also liked that the OTOPLAN software would be used, a software that allows the surgeon to plan the CI surgery and put the electrode in the best possible place in the inner ear. Together with the sound processing strategies, it allows MED-EL users to hear as naturally as possible.
SONNET 2 + Hearing Aid = Bimodal Hearing
My surgery took place without any complications and I recovered quickly. My activation day took place soon after and I got my SONNET 2 audio processor. My life as a bimodal user could begin! This means that together with my new cochlear implant on the right side, I still use my hearing aid on the left side.
After the activation listening with my CI was tiring in the beginning, but I got used to it quickly. Since I use two different types of hearing devices together and because hearing aids and cochlear implant systems work differently, my CI settings needed to be adapted to my hearing aid. And with the MAESTRO 9.0 software my audiologist used, that was no problem.
Thanks to this combination of cochlear implant and hearing aid, many everyday things have become easier, for example having conversations or watching movies. And my SONNET 2 has made hearing at university much easier too!
Raising Awareness on Instagram
Around the time of my CI surgery, I also started my Instagram account called bimodal_hearing. For me, this Instagram page is part of my mission to change the perception of hearing loss. Deafness has always had a negative connotation and that has created the wrong image of people with hearing loss in our society. That often makes life difficult for us and we are facing many prejudices—even today. I want to change that, educate people about the reality of life with hearing devices, and show how normal our everyday life is.
Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an
On Instagram I also show my different Design Covers and color combinations. I love customizing my audio processor with different designs and colorful parts. For me, that’s an important of accepting the audio processor as part of myself and my daily life.
My Advice for Others
If I could give other people on a similar hearing journey one piece of advice, it would be this: You should work a lot on yourself and on your hearing but without creating excessively high expectations. Be demanding with yourself but be patient at the same time.
You and the team behind you can do part of the work, but time will do the rest. It is important to be constant. Each of us has our own mountain to climb. Don’t be discouraged if the neighbor’s is easier. From the top it will be worth every effort.
Thank you, Antonio!
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