Many interventions – but no results
Over the years, Thersia Broodryk had tried various conventional hearing aids and been through multiple surgeries to improve her hearing. But nothing could make the difference that she so desperately wanted. She could not test conventional hearing aids in her right ear due to the closed canal, so she only tested a conventional aid in the left ear and the Ponto on the right.
“I have had problems with my ears since I was a child. They were chronically infected to the point that my right eardrum actually burst. The damage was so severe that both the ear canal and eardrum of my right ear were heavily scarred, and because of this the scar tissue blocked my ear canal entirely,” says Thersia.
Thersia’s audiologist knew that she would be a good candidate for a bone anchored hearing device, as this type of system is used to transmit sound directly to the inner ear through the skull bone, completely bypassing the scarring in her ear canal.
To help her make the decision and assess the benefits, Thersia tried out a test device worn on a headband for one month. At the end of the month, she was convinced that this was a solution that she wanted to try.
Welcome to hearing
In November 2013, a nervous Thersia had her implant surgery, and in January 2014 her Ponto Pro sound processor was attached. Although she had experienced some of the benefits through the test device, she was not prepared for the quality of sound that the bone anchored hearing solution gave her.
“The clarity of sound around me was almost overwhelming. My immediate reaction was ‘Awesome, I can hear! Why did I wait so long!?’ It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to hear. I could hear people speaking behind me, footsteps on the ground, the sound tyres make on gravel. I learned to listen all over again,” she says.
“I was worried about the anaesthetic, but the surgery was a breeze. I was home within a day and experienced minimal discomfort. It pretty much felt as though someone had pulled my hair really hard. During the healing time, I could sometimes sense the implant. However, you do get used to it very quickly, and now I don’t notice it anymore,” she says.
Changing guesswork to full understanding
Thersia now enjoys newfound confidence in her ability to connect with other people. “When everyone’s talking in a group, I don’t have to look to see who is speaking. I can hear when someone approaches my desk. Before, they had to touch me in order for me to realise that they were talking to me. I can hear my family even with my back to them, whereas before I had to walk up to them and turn my head and watch their mouths,” she explains.
Her newly discovered hearing is a far cry from situations before the Ponto Pro was fitted, when Thersia would always have to ask people to repeat themselves in social settings: “I sometimes went as far as laughing along, pretending I was part of the conversation even though I couldn’t hear a word,” she recalls.
Due to the dramatic difference Ponto Pro has made to her life, Thersia has no hesitation in recommending it to others. “It’s worth it! I can listen to everyone talking in a group and don’t have to look to see who’s talking. I’m no longer in my own little world.”
Worth every penny
In addition to the decision to undergo even more surgery, Thersia also had to weigh up the financial consequences of having the procedure, which is self-funded in South Africa. “I saved for a year and a half, but what I received in return outweighs the wait by far. I have my life back. I can do my work with confidence and I can hear every word my husband says to me, which is more precious than anything on this earth.”