Think back to the last time you felt alone.
Maybe you had just moved to a new city where you didn’t know anyone. Maybe you experienced an unexpected breakup. Or, maybe you just felt unappreciated. The thing is, with any of those ‘alone’ moments, the moment passes. You make friends. You meet someone new. Somebody compliments you.
For Rebecca Davenport, that moment never passed.
“My world was so quiet. You’re isolated. You don’t know what’s going on in your environment.”
Rebecca, a mother of four and PhD candidate, was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma in August 2013, a tumor of the Eighth Cranial Nerve responsible for hearing. Rebecca met with physicians in Portland and after weighing the pros and cons, they deemed it necessary for her to have two surgeries.
As with most surgeries, there were no guarantees. From the routine to the most complex, there is always some degree of risk involved. In Rebecca’s case the risk was high.
In the first surgery the tumor was successfully removed, but it damaged both branches of her cochlear nerve. This led to single-sided deafness and chronic balance disorder. Her second surgery, a Labyrinthectomy performed to restore balance, damaged her inner ear. Combined, both surgeries left her with single-sided deafness and outer ear canal inflammation.
Only able to experience a fraction of the sounds in her life, Rebecca felt truly alone. “When you can’t hear and locate sounds, it’s so overwhelming in a crowd. You’re even more disoriented. It left me so frustrated,” Rebecca said.
Post-surgical complications compounded the issue even further. “I couldn’t function in crowds and traffic. I couldn’t hear cars. I was having seizures.”
Her world became increasingly difficult, and most of the hearing options created more complications.
“We looked at options,” Rebecca explained. “I couldn’t put anything in my ear canal because it would aggravate my eczema condition.”
Then, Rebecca was offered a trial of the Ponto Plus.
“I was offered a trial of the Ponto. I tried it on a test band and my immediate thought was , ‘Oh this is great!’ I wanted to take it home with me!”
Having a great experience with the trial, Rebecca wanted to move forward with the surgery to have the abutment placed for her Bone Anchored Hearing System. But, just when things appeared to look up, she encountered yet another obstacle. She applied for insurance, and it was denied.
Rebecca didn’t give up– she’s a fighter. Always in pursuit of her high education degrees, she knows that grit and determination are everything. So, Rebecca and her doctor teamed up with the Acoustic Neuroma Association and petitioned.
She wrote a letter explaining:
“For people like me, hearing aids are not always a balanced option. The Ponto is a bone anchored hearing system, an implant, not a hearing aid.”
Through a great deal of research and a final joint appeal filed with her doctor, Rebecca’s surgery was approved earlier this year. As part of a “clean up” surgery required for the Acoustic Neuroma, she also had the abutment implanted.
Today, she’s getting her life back.
“When the bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) was activated I realized it was even better then the test band I had tried,” said Rebecca. “Sometimes I even fall asleep with it on, because I don’t want to miss anything. I just don’t want to take it off!”
Her kids noticed an immediate change in her energy too. “Mom, you’re vibrating,” her kids said when they saw her with her Ponto Plus for the first time. “It was exciting.”
Rebecca knows that there are others who are struggling with the issues that she faced, and she understands all of the fears associated with this journey.
“I had to have a major surgery that can be life threatening. When you come out of it your world is turned upside down. I walked into the surgery just fine, and came out of it disabled,” she explained. “A lot of people are hesitant to have another surgery for the Ponto. They end up with hearing aids, and the sound quality isn’t as good. If I didn’t have my BAHS, I wouldn’t be able to hear. Without the BAHS I wouldn’t be functioning. For me, it has improved my quality of life. I can even answer the phone on the Oticon Medical Streamer.”
Today, Rebecca works as an office manager and patient care coordinator at a doctor’s office, working closely with patients to help them understand their own insurance coverage options. “Because of what I do, hearing for me is very important.”
She did have to take a leave of absence from graduate school, sidelining her PhD candidacy, but ever the fighter she still completed a second master’s degree. She hopes to finish her PhD in the future.
In the meantime, she appreciates the sounds of life coming back to her. “For me the BAHS has truly been a gift, enhancing my quality of life. Just yesterday I was working in my yard and was amazed being able to hear the different nuances in bird songs again. Also, I’m enjoying listening to music again, which was not quite the same after surgery. ”
With her Ponto Plus, Rebecca doesn’t feel alone anymore.