Meet Nicole Pintac of Minot, North Dakota. Nicole is a twenty year old beautiful young lady who was born with Microtia and Atresia of her right ear. When Nicole was younger, she did have reconstructive ear surgery on her right ear (rib graft), but she still struggled with her hearing.
Nicole works at a popular hotel in her home town and finds herself always apologizing to the guests because she just can not hear them (when welcoming them at the front desk). Nicole says “from the moment I was born, I’ve struggled with figuring out which way sounds are coming from [and] it is very hard for me to talk on the phone or talk to anyone in general.” “Unfortunately, my hearing loss affected me severely in school as I could never hear the teachers and I struggle to read lips.” Nicole’s everyday life is affected by her hearing loss. She says, “I still struggle with pronouncing several words because I just can not hear very well, even though I have normal hearing in my left ear.” Nicole explains, “Most people I know can tolerate me asking them to repeat what they said two or three times, but the people who do not know I’m deaf on my right side become very upset and annoyed with me.” “This has had an impact on my everyday life, trying to just be happy and accepting of my hearing loss.”
Recently, Nicole made an appointment to see an audiologist, Dr. Tricia Nechodom at Trinity Health Center in Minot, North Dakota. Dr. Nechodom introduced her to the Cochlear Americas Baha 4 and allowed Nicole to trial a loaner device so Nicole could see how her life would be with a hearing device. To Nicole’s surprise, she couldn’t believe how clearly she could hear from the moment she began wearing the loaner device. However, Nicole’s insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield does not provide coverage for a bone anchored hearing device and so her request for a Baha was denied. Nicole began researching options for assistance in obtaining a hearing device when she found Ear Community. Not only did Nicole discover Ear Community’s hearing device program, but she also discovered an entire community that she could go to for support and more. In fact, Nicole told her mother about Ear Community and it’s support group, the Microtia and Atresia Support Group on Facebook, and they both cried, realizing that they were not alone anymore after all of these years! Nicole quickly applied to Ear Community for help to obtain a hearing device.
In previous discussions with Melissa Tumblin, the Founder and Exeuctive Director of Ear Community, Nicole explained how she had found it difficult to wear the Baha loaner device on a soft band head band, as she had to be forced to wear her hair up in order to help keep it on better. Melissa Tumblin informed Nicole about the wire head band as an option in place of the soft band head band. Melissa Tumblin also informed Nicole about the newly launched Cochlear Americas Baha 5 bone conduction hearing system. On June 16th, 2015th, Nicole had her audiology appointment with Dr. Tricia Nechodom for her fitting of her new Baha 5 with a wire head band. Nicole states that “I am absolutely in love the the Baha…I can hear my husband and family clearly, which I am sure they love not having to repeat everything all of the time now. It has been an incredible feeling. My whole world has opened me up to something so new and amazing. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on until I was able to wear a Baha. I can have an actual conversation with out having everyone repeat what they have said.” Thank you! Immediately after Nicole’s fitting with her new Baha, she sent an e-mail to Melissa at Ear Community and said, “You can’t even tell I’m wearing it! And I called my mom off of the phone app and I heard her for the first time on the phone on my right side. It was incredible! I’m sooooooooo happy. Thank you thank you thank youuu!”
Ear Community is a nonprofit organization that helps the Microtia and Atresia community worldwide. Ear Community is so very thankful for the help that it receives and when other organizations come together to help Ear Community with its mission, to help children and adults born with Microtia and Atresia. “Thank you to Cochlear Americas for helping Nicole live a better quality of life by donating a new Baha 5 processor so she can hear better at work and not have to ask people to constantly repeat what they have said,” says Melissa Tumblin. Some day, Nicole would like to have her new Baha 5 surgically implanted.
A special thank you to Dr. Tricia Nechodom for donating her time and services to help fit and program Nicole’s new Baha 5 processor. Ear Community would especially like to thank Kerri Lewandowski and Joanne Kernie ofCochlear Americas for donating the Baha 5 to our foundation so Ear Community could help Nicole hear better. “Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. It has a dedicated global team of more than 2,500 people who deliver the gift of sound to those with hearing loss in over 100 countries. Its vision is to connect people, young and old, to a world of sound by offering life enhancing hearing solutions. In 2013, Cochlear celebrates 100,000 Baha System users – all with unique stories of how being able to hear again has impacted their lives. The Cochlear promise of “Hear Now. And Always” embodies the company’s commitment to providing its recipients with the best possible hearing performance today and for the rest of their lives.”
Nicole, all of us here at Ear Community are so happy for you, knowing that you can now hear everything that you were once missing out on, says Melissa Tumblin. I have a feeling that you will see some job promotions in your future because of your newly found self confidence now that you can hear so much better! Good luck to you Nicole!” – Melissa
Founder and Executive Director