When John started losing his hearing in his late thirties, he thought his whole life and professional career were threatened. What would happen to him if he could no longer hear? The road leading to his decision to have an implant was long, but now, three years later, he has no regrets at all.
Growing up, John was an active child who loved swimming and playing sports, just like all the kids around him. However, in his twenties he was diagnosed with cholesteatoma, a type of cyst, in both ears. While the surgery to remove them was successful, it had a major impact on his hearing.
A few years later, John realised he was gradually losing his hearing. Things started to get difficult in the workplace. One day he literally couldn’t hear the person sitting across the table in a conference room. Instead of feeling like a successful professional, he suddenly felt lost, helpless, not in control. That meeting became the “tipping point” for John.
“I said to myself, either I’m going to invest in my future and continue doing what I do professionally, or I’m going to choose to be the guy in the background who doesn’t talk, who can barely hear and misses out on things in the work environment, like an advance or a promotion. My hearing was going south and I had to make a change.”
Deciding on a Baha solution
John started investigating what type of hearing solution could help him. His doctor suggested the Baha System and lent him a Baha Softband to try out for a couple of days. Being able to test the device before having surgery made all the difference.
“Initially I was apprehensive about getting a Baha implant, because I wasn’t sure how people were going to perceive me,” recalls John. “I’m a customer-facing individual, so I meet people on a daily basis. I had no wish to be considered handicapped, or thought any the less of. But once the device was put on, all those thoughts evaporated. The sounds I heard were not just amplified but clarified.”
John realised that it was more important for him to be able to hear what people were saying than to look like everybody else. After that, there was no question that he was going to have the surgery.
The whole process of getting the Baha solution took some preparation. But once John had made up his mind and was considered to be a suitable candidate, it felt much easier. The surgery was an outpatient procedure; he didn’t need to stay overnight but was out of the hospital the same day.
In John’s opinion, it’s better to be briefed and well-informed about the whole procedure than to go into it without knowing very much. But as well-informed as he was, nothing could have prepared John for the moment when the audiologist activated his Baha Sound Processor a few weeks later.
The ‘aha’ moment
“When they first turned my Baha on, I could literally hear a pin drop,” says John. “I heard tones and sounds and clicks that I hadn’t heard in years. That was a real eye-opener for me. It was the ‘aha’ moment, the moment when you see the rainbow going over the pot of gold. It was great, it really was.”
Now, John doesn’t mind someone coming up to him to ask what he has behind his ears. “It’s the strong people who do that,” he says. “They’re curious, they have a strong sense of themselves and they’re not scared to talk to me about it.”
For John’s four children, his Baha experience has been nothing but positive. As noisy as kids can be, there were times where John was unable to pick up on certain things they were trying to tell him. The children would get frustrated, and John would get frustrated, which would sometimes cause tension in the family. The Baha System eased that.
“I can actually hear everything they’re saying now,” he says. “And if they get too loud, I can always turn it off. I don’t need to ask them to speak up and I can hear them right off the bat. So it’s been a really good experience. To them, the Baha is just part of me. They don’t even think about it. It’s just who I am.”
John’s wife is happy with it too. The whole family can now enjoy watching TV together at a comfortable noise level because John doesn’t have to turn the volume up. His wife doesn’t need to raise her voice as he can hear her, even when she speaks quietly -- which now gives John a reason to ‘hush’ her! “And she doesn’t even get mad at me,” he jokes.
Without his sound processor, John is certain he wouldn’t be able to hear all the subtle tones and ambient noise of his surroundings. At work, he’s back to his old, confident self. He feels more relaxed in meetings because he’s no longer straining to hear the conversation going on around him. “Listening is a huge part of what we humans do,” says John. “Without my Baha Sound Processor, I would really be lost and very uncomfortable, without a doubt.”
Name: John Kastanis
Lives in: New Jersey, USA
Type of hearing loss: Bilateral hearing loss for 12 years
Profession: Property Underwriter
Hobbies: Spending time with wife and four children, swimming, cycling, reading thrillers and action novels.
Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.