“We All Deal With Challenges. Mine Just Happens to Be Visible”: Michaela’s Story
Michaela Davert is an enthusiastic fashion and beauty advocate, college student, and BONEBRIDGE recipient from the US. She loves sharing her everyday experiences with her MED-EL device on social media and informing the world about osteogenesis imperfecta, the disability she was born with. In this blog post, she tells us what motivates her to educate her audience about these two aspects of her life.
My name is Michaela Davert and I am a 23-year-old senior at Davenport University in Michigan, working towards my Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus specifically on Marketing and a minor in Digital Marketing.
In my free time, I like to show my love for fashion and beauty on social media platforms, talk about my experience with Osteogenesis Imperfecta and share my hearing journey with my BONEBRIDGE.
Dealing With Osteogenesis Imperfecta
I was born with a disability called osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). It is a connective tissue disorder and causes my body not to be able to produce high-quality collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein within the human body and defects in this can cause a wide variety of subsequent health challenges. I’m only 2ft, 6in (76.2 cm) tall, have experienced over 100 fractures throughout my lifetime, 28 surgeries, and have severe scoliosis. OI-related hearing loss exists, but the cause of hearing loss for me was not actually related to Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
The Start of my Hearing Journey
Throughout my childhood, I dealt with dozens of ear infections in my right ear. There came a point when my tympanostomy tubes were not working and ended in failure. I visited many doctors throughout my life. None of them could understand why I was in a constant state of infection. This went on for over 10 years but started to affect my daily life about five years ago.
It wasn’t until three years ago when I met my current otolaryngologist, Dr. Emily Stucken that I was able to find why I was experiencing all of this. Through a CT scan it was discovered I had a physical abnormality resulting in narrow passageways making me more prone to infection. I underwent two surgeries with Eustachian tube balloon dilation and a mastoidectomy.
The Consequences of Unaddressed Ear Infections
By the time we got to the surgery, too much damage had been done by the unaddressed infections. Two of three of my hearing bones (ossicles) were quite literally destroyed by so many years of infection. Artificial hearing bones were unable to be successfully implanted due to my complex and small anatomy caused by osteogenesis imperfecta. This left me with severe permanent conductive hearing loss on my right side.
Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid as the Solution
For several months, I used a traditional hearing aid to compensate for the loss. However, wearing the hearing aid started to cause pain. A traditional hearing aid was not the best long-term solution for me. It was then that Dr. Stucken told me I would be a perfect candidate for a bone-anchored hearing aid. I was determined to find a more sustainable option to help with my hearing loss, so I knew immediately this was an option I wanted to explore and pursue.
Eliminating Challenges With BONEBRIDGE’s MRI Safety
I decided to get a bone-anchored hearing aid because there are so many other medical complexities that make my daily life challenging, and I wanted to eliminate one of them. There was one thing that was an absolute must for me and that was the ability to have MRI compatibility. As mentioned previously, I also deal with severe scoliosis and in 2020, I underwent a complete spinal fusion. With my spine full of hardware, it’s essential that I’m always able to safely undergo an MRI again at any time.
This left me with the MED-EL BONEBRIDGE as the only option for me since so few bone-anchored hearing aids are MRI compatible. The intact skin with BONEBRIDGE was also important for me due to my history of infections—we wanted this risk to be eliminated at all costs. I have one BONEBRIDGE BCI 602 and it’s on my right side. I use the SAMBA 2 audio processor with it.
Clearer Sounds With BONEBRIDGE
The first thing that I noticed after activation was how much background noise I was missing out on. Everything and everyone around me also just sounded so much clearer. I could hear everyone in the room with me and didn’t have to ask anyone to repeat anything they said that day!
When I left the appointment, I immediately noticed I could hear the cars in the parking lot which made me feel so much safer. It was also hailing that day and I could hear the hail coming down! Since getting my BONEBRIDGE, I’ve been able to hear my favorite sound which is music on my right side for the first time in many, many years.
Great Sound Quality, Light Audio Processor, and Fashionable Designs
I’ve only been using my BONEBRIDGE for a few months, but there are already so many things that I love about it. The sound quality is obviously number one and most important to me, and everything else feels like a bonus. The sound is just so clear and natural. I truly forget that I’m wearing a hearing aid most of the time. I also love that I can’t feel that I’m wearing it. The external processor is so light, I forget that it’s there.
As previously mentioned, I have a love for fashion so I love that there are different design covers for my SAMBA 2 that I can get! It makes it so much more fun since traditional hearing aids don’t have customizable features like that.
Improvement After a Short Time
This device has changed my life in so many ways in just the short time I’ve had it already. As I mentioned previously, there are many other medical complexities that I deal with daily that there aren’t “fixes” for. So, to have one aspect of my life become so much easier and not have to struggle with has been amazing. I always thought I could manage with just hearing from one ear, but I forgot how important it really is that we have two! It makes life so much easier and more enjoyable.
Informing and Educating Online
I have built a community on social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. At first, I started these platforms to share my love for the fashion and beauty industry in hopes to advocate for more young women with physical disabilities to be showcased in that space.
As my audience began to grow by the thousands, there became an increased interest in viewers wanting to learn more about osteogenesis imperfecta and how it affects me day-to-day. I began to share more and more about this aspect of life, and today it’s some of my favorite information and education to be able to provide for my audience! For the future, I want to continue to use my social media platforms to remind people what a gift life is.
The Importance of Healthcare Providers
Throughout my own experiences as a patient in the healthcare environment from the moment I was born, I discovered a deep passion for patient-centered healthcare and the importance of healthcare providers remembering patients are coming to them facing what is most likely some of the most difficult and frustrating times of their life. I wouldn’t be here today without my healthcare providers who have helped me throughout my lifetime which is why I want to thank them with all my heart.
Changing the Narrative
So often disability is viewed as a burden in society, and it’s been my mission to change that narrative. It’s been a very rewarding experience. Every day, I receive messages from viewers all around the world telling me that I’ve helped them through a hard time or made them smile during a difficult day. I’m very humbled to be able to connect with people in this way. We all deal with challenges on a daily basis. Mine just happens to be visible.
Advocate for Yourself
My advice for other people with hearing loss is to never give up and always advocate for yourself because nobody will do that better than you. As you see from my journey, it took many years of discouragement to get the medical help I needed to truly help me get to a better place medically.
I wouldn’t accept that living in a constant state of infection would be normal. I never gave up and kept going until I found someone who was truly able to help me long-term. If I gave up, I wouldn’t be infection-free and have an amazing device to help me hear better as I do now!
Thank you, Michaela!
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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.