'Discovering new sounds'
The whooshing of her trousers as she walked, the jangling of bangles and keyboard keys clicking were completely unknown sounds to Tracey Quarmby before she received her Cochlear™ Baha® bone conduction system in 2016.
Tracey has had hearing issues since she was six years old. Growing up in rural NSW, she suffered chronic ear infections and attended numerous audiology and ear, nose and throat specialty appointments before being diagnosed with a cholesteatoma.
A cholesteatoma is an abnormal, non-cancerous skin growth that can develop in the middle section of the ear, behind the eardrum. Most commonly caused by repeated middle ear infections, in Tracey’s case, the cholesteatoma required a mastoidectomy - a surgical procedure to remove the diseased cells.
Tracey lost her hearing in her left ear and had a mild hearing loss in her other ear but she “just got on with it” and continued to live her life with hearing loss. She obtained her qualification as an occupational therapist and now provides clinical advice to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“I read many research articles,” says Tracey. “I also spoke to audiologists, speech pathologists and Baha recipients. I did a trial of the Baha sound processor and found the sound was much clearer so I decided to go ahead.”
“The team at the South Australian Cochlear Implant Centre (SACIC) were very supportive and they helped me to fine tune and maximise the use of my Baha Sound Processor.”
Since receiving her Baha Sound Processor, Tracey said her family and friends have commented on how much quieter she is now.
“I didn’t realise I was talking loud and banging doors in our open-plan office, as I simply didn’t hear properly. Before my implant, I had difficulty hearing passengers in my car as they were on my left side. I now use Bluetooth in the car which connects to my Baha Sound Processor, so I can hear what’s going on,” she says.
“I no longer have to make sure I’m sitting or standing in front of someone to hear them in a group situation, or position myself near speakers at concerts and conferences. I have a much-improved sense of where sound is coming from, which is particularly helpful as I can hear oncoming traffic. I’m loving identifying and learning new sounds, some of which I never even knew existed!”
In her spare time, Tracey volunteers for her local country fire station in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, assisting with the finances and the op-shop, as well as volunteering her time as an occupational therapist. Tracey is also involved in the Aldgate Baptist church and is grateful that her Baha Sound Processor allows her to enjoy the live music at the weekly congregation. Best of all, Tracey says she is more relaxed and rested now.
“Social situations are less stressful. I can hear whole conversations and don’t have to concentrate so hard. It’s exhausting having to pay such close attention to what is being said to keep up with the flow of the conversation. I didn’t realise how much I was lip-reading before my implant, but now I don’t have to rely on that anymore.
“Catching up with friends in restaurants and cafes is no longer fraught with hearing difficulties and considerations of the best place to sit. I can sit where I want and simply enjoy the company. I am so happy I went ahead with the procedure and I would recommend anyone considering getting a Baha implant to go for it!”