Life with a Ponto Plus immediately gave Rebecca her sparkle back. However, it was still a long journey to get her back in the groove.
Acoustic neuroma diagnosis
Rebecca, a mother of four and PhD candidate, was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma (AN) tumour in August 2013. AN tumours grow on the eighth cranial nerve: an essential part of our auditory system that is responsible for carrying nerve impulses from the cochlea to the brain. Rebecca met with physicians in Portland, and after weighing up the pros and cons, they deemed it necessary for her to undergo two surgical procedures to deal with the tumour.
Surgery for acoustic neuroma
In the first surgery, the tumour was successfully, but both branches of her eighth nerve were damaged in the process – not only the branch responsible for her hearing, but also the one responsible for her balance. This first surgery led to complete deafness on the affected side (SSD), as well as a chronic balance disorder. A second surgery, a labyrinthectomy, was performed to restore her balance.
In addition to her deafness, Rebecca developed inflammation in her outer ear canals, making it difficult to wear anything on her ears. This created even more difficulties when it came to the hearing options available to her.
“We looked at SSD treatment options,” Rebecca explained. “I could not put anything in my ear canal because it would aggravate my skin condition in my ear canal.”
Ponto Plus trial run and insurance roadblocks
“When you cannot hear sounds, it is so overwhelming in a crowd. You are even more disoriented. It left me so frustrated,” Rebecca said. “I could not function in traffic. I could not hear cars – especially those passing on my deaf side. This was very disorienting and even dangerous for me.”
“I was offered a trial of the Ponto system. I tried it on a test band and my immediate thought was, ‘Oh this is great!’ I wanted to wear it all the time!”
Unfortunately, she was denied insurance coverage. But she did not stop there. Rebecca was determined to change her life.
Approved for BAHS
Rebecca teamed up with her doctors and the Acoustic Neuroma Association to appeal the decision. She explained, “For people like me who cannot benefit from using hearing aids, the Ponto bone anchored hearing system is a great solution.”
The appeal was successful, and she was approved to have the implant as part of a clean-up surgery for the acoustic neuroma in early 2015.
A new day
With her Ponto Plus, Rebecca now enjoys life to the fullest again.
“When my Ponto Plus was activated, I realised it was even better than the test band I had tried,” Rebecca said. “I just do not want to take it off! A bone anchored hearing system has truly been a gift for me, enhancing my quality of life. Just yesterday, I was working in my yard and was amazed by being able to hear the different nuances in bird songs again. Also, I am enjoying listening to music again, which was not quite the same after surgery. ”
Rebecca’s world is filled with wonderful sounds once again. She also hopes to continue pursuing her PhD in the future, and she now dedicates her time to advocating and helping others going through a similar journey.
Most importantly, she has her sparkle back.