I know many of you are seeking experiences from other Esteem patients besides myself. I'm gonna see if I can get more friends to share - both those who have had great success and those who's experience has been less than ideal. First up is Sharla. If you have any questions, feel free to post them and I will pass them on to her. If you have a Facebook, you are welcome to join our Esteem patients group, where you'll be able to talk to not only several patients who have been implanted, but also hopefuls like yourself.
I have not been a hard of hearing person all of my life. I was born with normal hearing, but my parents were told I had a 3% hearing loss, which doesn’t seem like much. Throughout my childhood years, this small amount of loss was always given as a percent and never a decibel range to me. So, to this day, I always want to know what percentage of loss I have rather than a decibel loss.
The hearing loss stayed the same until I was in my teens. My mother was adamant about taking me to ENT’s to make sure there was no progression. My father’s mother’s side of the family has a genetic disposition to hearing loss that normally occurs after age 40. Daddy lost a lot of his hearing in Korea with all of the guns. One day, he walked onto a firing range with 100% of his hearing and walked off with about 50% left. He received an honorable medical discharge from the Marines. So that was the basis of my mom’s obsession with my hearing.
When I entered my teens, I had an insatiable appetite for rock-n-roll music. The louder the better was my motto! Headphones cranked as high as they would go, car stereo’s cranked to the point of distortion and standing next to or on top of speakers at rock concerts were the name of the game.
Within a few years, people were noticing I said “Huh” and “What” a lot! After concerts, it would be days before the ringing in my ears quit and sounds seemed normal again. At 19, Mom took me to a hearing aid dispenser to get me fitted for hearing aids. At that point, I had
destroyed my hearing and was down to 50% left. After getting hearing aids and hating them and using them only half the time, I continued going to concerts, using headphones and cranking the car stereo. I lost a really good job due to the fact that I could not hear though I was told “It’s just not working out”. A HOH person can read between the lines, even if they can’t hear the speech they are given. :o)
Moving forward, my hearing loss progressed to 70% gone by the time I was 30 and before that I became totally dependent on hearing aids to hear anything. As much as I hated them, the stigma, the embarrassment and withdrawing myself from social activities, I had to have those hearing aids. I had people look down on me when they found out I was HOH, was treated differently, treating as if I was mentally impaired and made fun of even to my face.
In 2008, I heard about a trial for the Esteem. I so wanted to join in, but it was not possible to leave the state for surgery, take time off work for it and recovery and the many trips back and for that would ensue. Plus, 2008 was the year my mother started failing in her battle with Alzheimer’s and I was her primary caregiver. So the trial was just not meant to be for me.
In 2011, I was laid off from my job and subsequently I re-found information about the Esteem Implant. I started researching and talking to Envoy and finally decided that since I was not working at the time, it was the perfect opportunity to “go for it”. On May 28, Dr. Murray performed my implant surgery at the new center in the Woodlands, Texas just outside of Houston. On July 28, I was activated!
I’m not a person who shows a lot of emotion for things like this, but it was exciting even if my outside wasn’t conveying what my insides were feeling. For the first time in 26 years, I was hearing without a hearing aid!!! I guess I also wasn’t overly emotional because I’ve heard these sounds before and I was able to hear pretty good with hearing aids. I just hate hearing aids! Now, by all means, things are not perfect. I do have a ways to go in my journey. I have a problem with distortion from
the Esteem but hear really well otherwise. The Esteem was implanted in my right ear, which I consider my worse ear even though my loss is equal on both sides. It is also the ear that gave the most trouble in getting hearing aids to work with. I had the distortion problems with hearing aids on the right side too and it would take many trips back to the audiologist to get my hearing just right.
So with that said, I am not disappointed at all! I love all of the sounds I can hear without a hearing aid. It’s wonderful to wake up and hear without putting a hearing aid in. I love hearing my cats’ purring. I love bird sounds, cricket sounds, the croak of the toad who lives in the bottom of one of my potted plants, the TV on a lower sound level, grease popping in the fryer, the hum of the computer, the rustling of the sheets when I’m in bed, the doorbell, the wind in the trees and even more! The most awesome sound I’ve heard since being activated is the beating of my son’s heart! I have never in my life heard a heartbeat for real and not even with a stethoscope. Now I hear it loud and clear without a stethoscope! That was the biggest, happiest moment I’ve had on my whole Esteem journey!
So I know it’s long, but that’s the short version of my story and how I came to receive the Esteem Implant.