“I was amazed to hear the birds singing again so clearly”

Meet Rebecca Davenport. Rebecca was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma – a tumor on her vestibulocochlear nerve in August 2013. After several surgeries, setbacks, and a long insurance battle, she was fitted with a Ponto Plus in early 2015. Her life immediately changed for the better, as the beauty of sound reentered her world.

Name: Bethany Geldmaker
Indication: Single-sided deafness

Life with a Ponto Plus immediately gave Rebecca her sparkle back. It was a long journey, though, 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) tumor in August 2013. AN tumors grow on the eighth cranial nerve: an essential part of our auditory system, which is responsible for carrying nerve impulses from the cochlea to the brain. Rebecca met with physicians in Portland and after weighing the pros and cons, they deemed it necessary for her to undergo two surgical procedures to deal with the tumor.

Surgery for Acoustic Neuroma

In the first surgery, the tumor was successfully removed, but both branches of her eighth nerve were damaged in the process – the one responsible for her hearing as well as 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. Her 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 complications 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.”

The 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 ones 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 with her doctors and the Acoustic Neuroma Association and petitioned. She explained, “For people like me, who cannot benefit from using hearing aids, the Ponto system which is a bone anchored hearing system is a great solution.”

The petition 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 realized it was even better than the test band I had tried,” said Rebecca. I just do not want to take it off! For me a bone anchored hearing system has truly been a gift, 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 her PhD pursuit in the future, and now dedicates her time to advocating and helping others who are going through a similar journey. 

Most importantly, she has her sparkle back.