Sudden hearing loss
Ross had been a pastor at his self-founded Momentum Church for about a year and a half when he lost hearing in his left ear.
He was having dinner on a Friday night with a few of his staff members, and they decided to take a stroll to a nearby bookshop afterward. About five minutes later, Ross noticed that he was unable to hear anything in his left ear. This lasted for a few hours, and then the sensation went away. The exact same thing happened the next day. Ross assumed that this was just due to the change in the weather. However, after a quick nap that Sunday, he felt it again. This time, the sensation never left him.
Ross’s doctor diagnosed him with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), and he explained that the hearing loss in his left ear would be permanent. Ross was stunned. “I remember thinking, ‘What? I'm 34! This shouldn’t be happening to me!’”
A tough wait
A CAT scan found that Ross had a birth defect on his inner cheekbone that was causing his ongoing sinus problems. His doctor recommended surgery to correct the condition, in the hope of preventing hearing loss in his other ear. Because of medical insurance, Ross had to wait a year before he was able to get the surgery. This wait was difficult and scary for Ross; he was constantly worried about losing hearing in his other ear. Finally, the doctor performed the surgery as planned and corrected the sinus problem.
With the surgery out of the way, Ross’s audiologist recommended a hearing device. At first, Ross decided that he would just try to live with his condition. However, he soon discovered that living with hearing in only one ear was not easy. The hearing loss made it especially difficult for him in social situations. “I have always been a ‘people person,’ and I enjoyed being in an environment with a lot of people. I really lost a lot of my personality.”
Support from the local community
It was eight years later, in 2014, when Ross finally learned about bone anchored hearing technology from his audiologist. When he moved forward on his own to research the possibility, he ran into some issues with his insurance, and once again he decided that he would put off having any treatment, at least until some of his children were grown up and out of the house. In the meantime, without Ross’s knowledge, members of his church got together and started raising the money for his hearing device. In December 2015, Ross was surprised by local Christian radio station FISH during its yearly “Holiday Wish” campaign. FISH was able to provide the rest of the needed funds to supplement what Ross’s church members had already raised.
With the funds available, Ross began to seek out the best hearing solution. Ross had many questions and searched all over the internet to get them answered. He felt he had to do the best research, even more so than if he were paying himself. “These people are investing in me,” he thought. “How could I ever waste their money?”
Through this process, Ross discovered an online hearing community for Bone Anchored Hearing Systems. Within that group, Ross found a supportive collective of individuals who were either users of bone anchored hearing devices themselves, or parents of children using the device. Ross was able to receive unbiased feedback about different brands of devices. As part of his journey toward finding the best hearing solution for himself, Ross kept the group abreast of his progress. From trying different brands of sound processors during soft band trials, to learning about the Minimally Invasive Ponto Surgery (MIPS) and getting his implant, to finally getting his Ponto Plus device, he posted updates for the group. You can read his timeline, shown via his own social media posts, in our blog post here.
Ross’s audiologist had only worked with other brands of bone anchored sound processors, so when Ross heard about Oticon Medical’s Ponto Plus from his online group, he insisted that his audiologist get a Ponto Plus for him to try.
Why Oticon Medical?
“Why did I choose Oticon Medical? Because the fans, the people actually using it, sold me on trying the Ponto Plus.” Trying it out on a head band confirmed what he heard from everybody in the support group and helped Ross confidently decide on Oticon Medical over every other brand. As Ross says, “I want to put my money on a sure thing!”
Since Ross got his Ponto Plus, he has been learning a lot about the different features and accessories it offers. This enables Ross to take full advantage of his Ponto Plus.
“The remote microphone is incredible!” Ross explains, and he enjoys going to restaurants with his wife now; it used to be a stressful situation to struggle to hear her voice over the background noise. When his wife wears the clip-on remote microphone, he is able to hear her even from far away.
Ross’s advice for anyone who feels uninformed about hearing loss treatment is to not be afraid to ask questions and advocate for yourself. He explains that “it would be a disservice for anybody not to try different brands on a band” in order to experience the difference that a great device like Ponto Plus can make.