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It's that time!

On May 27th, I woke up, grabbed my remote, turned my Esteem on, and heard it - the double beep. This took me by surprise so I turned my Esteem implant off and back on, and yep...I heard the double beep again.

If you're not already familiar with the Esteem, the double beep means your Esteem battery is dying and will soon need to be replaced. The battery was previously believed to last up to a couple of months after first getting the double beep, but Envoy now estimates it to be closer to two weeks. Eventually the implant will die and you'll be rendered completely deaf in that ear until you have the surgery to replace the battery. I've been told that in the time between the first double beep and when the battery dies completely, the quality of sound may diminish. I think I may have experienced this briefly this weekend when it seemed my hearing was kind of diluted for a few seconds, but I can't be sure it wasn't my imagination. Time will tell.

i noticed another interesting thing about my Esteem since I first heard the double beep. I turn my Esteem off every night at bedtime, and then turn it back on every morning when I wake up. For the first few days after hearing the double beep, I would hear the double beep every time I turned my Esteem on. Then it would skip a day. Now I haven't heard the double beep in four days. I was a little concerned about that, but I've been told that my turning the Esteem off at night is helping to conserve the battery life.

Anyway, I called the Ear Center in Greensboro and we scheduled a date for surgery on June 18th. Get this - my battery replacement surgery falls on the fifth anniversary of the very day I had my initial surgery, June 18th, 2008! That is just too cool! I go in for my pre-op paperwork and testing on the 17th. We'll stay at a hotel and will be at the Surgical Center at 6 a.m. the next day.

I'm really looking forward to it!
If you have a Facebook page, please join our group - Envoy Esteem Patients Group: http://www.facebook.com/messages/100001929337682#!/groups/241235109304753/. You'll find several Esteem patients and read various experiences with the implant - ranging from great success and less than ideal experiences. You'll also be able to reach out to others who are also researching the Esteem implant. You're welcome to ask any questions, or share your own experience as a patient. There's even a list of Esteem blogs like my own. Perhaps you've heard of Sarah Churman and her Youtube video of her Esteem activation that went viral overnight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsOo3jzkhYA. You can meet her in the group as well. We currently have 47 members in the group. Hope to see you there!

Sharla's Story (another Esteem patient)

Hi all,

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.

Sharla's Story:

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.

Pesky hearing aid

I wear a hearing aid in my un-implanted ear. I'm forced to do so because, otherwise, it sounds so horribly unbalanced having one really good ear and one bad ear. A week or so ago, my hearing aid quit working for unknown reasons (it's perhaps two years old). I took it in to my audiologist for a quick fix, and it seemed to be working great when I left. Ever since that day, it has been giving my horrible feedback. I haven't had a chance to go back to my audiologist, so I've been forced to constantly decide on the lesser of two annoyances - a squealing hearing aid, or no hearing aid. Right now, my hearing aid is squealing softly, nonstop. It drives me crazy...

It only serves as a reminder of how much nicer my Esteem has been compared to my hearing aids. It's nice to have no maintenance or earwax issues, or to not worry about being caught with a dead hearing aid and no batteries. Of course, there's always the risk of losing a hearing aid, as we experienced recently when one of my 9 year old daughter's hearing aids seemingly vanished into thin air (we were very lucky - her aid had two weeks of insurance left and only required a $250 replacement deductible). It only fuels my desire to one day be able to afford the expense of a second implant. If one implant can can my life as much as it has, I can't wait to see what two implants will do!

It's been a while.


I know it has been quite a while since I last posted on this blog. A lot has happened since then. I'm still in college, in my sophomore year. I've done really well, maintaining a GPA of 3.73. Providing no changes (my school is undergoing some major changes to their programs and curriculum), I will graduate with my Associate's degree on 12/12/12 (interesting date!) and continue on toward my Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.

College has been an interesting experience. It was a step that I just wasn't prepared to take before I received my middle ear implant. I've done very well in most of my classes, with no problems hearing and understanding my professors. Only one class was a particular struggle; my professor was a very soft-spoken male. The class was very fast-paced and required extensive note-taking. I burst into tears within the first 20 minutes of class. But, thankfully, the professor was understanding of my plight and we worked out a system that kept me up to speed. It's still surreal - knowing that the Esteem helped me to achieve my dream of going to college, and even in maintaining the highest GPA in my class.

Though my Esteem implant has become a normal part of me, I still run across those little moments that leave me in awe of my improved hearing. I still get giddy over hearing the crackle of static electricity when I'm folding up freshly dried laundry. Yesterday, when I took the puppy outside to use the bathroom, I noticed I could hear and recognize every word of the song my 12 year old daughter was listening to on the radio inside. The other day, my husband was listening to my iPod with my headphones, and I could clearly hear every word. The past few days, I couldn't help but laugh as I hear my Boxer puppy snoring, or smile when I hear the kitten purring. My husband sometimes finds himself baffled when I can hear some sounds better than he can. I still feel impressed when I hear the train rumbling through town several miles away or hear the fire whistle go off in another town. The Esteem continues to be a such a huge blessing, and I couldn't imagine my life without it.

I apologize for getting so behind on all the comments and messages. I really enjoy hearing from everyone, and I'm stepping up my efforts to reply back!

Who are YOU?

The past few weeks has been amazing!! I have been hearing from so many people who are interested in the Esteem, and I've been steadily making some great friends. I only wish that, as a child, I could have gotten to know so many people who could actually relate to me. Which leads me to my question - Who are YOU??

If you're reading this, chances are you have a hearing loss, and you're researching alternatives to hearing aids. Could you please take a moment to leave a comment and tell me why you're here? Are you hearing impaired? Or are you looking for more information for a loved one? Are you researching other alternatives to hearing loss? Or are you interested in the Envoy Esteem and simply looking for more information? Maybe you've even already had the surgery.

You don't have to create an account to post a comment, you can even post an anonymous comment. I would really love to hear from you!

A new first


Two days ago, I was sitting on the floor, folding the laundry I had just pulled out of the dryer (my, how I hate doing the laundry...). I pulled two of my girls' dresses apart, and I actually heard the static electricity crackle! I let the dresses cling against each other, and pulled them apart again, just to hear the crackle. That was pretty cool!

Just as I told Jenn, I've just passed my two year anniversary of the day of my surgery. I've gotten fully adjusted to my implant, and am beginning to take it for granted, but it's amazing to still experience new sounds that I've never heard before!

At this very moment...

At this very moment, my 7 year old daughter is suffering from another stomach migraine, or cyclic vomiting syndrome. This causes her to be extremely sick, and she will vomit several times an hourall through the night. She's in my bedroom, the darkest and quietest room in the house, and I'm watching TV in the living room. Every few minutes, it hits her. She doesn't have time to call my name, she quietly gets sick until it passes.

I can hear her. Every single time. Even over the chatter of the TV and the other kids. Because she will get sick as much as 20 times or more through the night, she sleeps in our room. I hear her, every single time, and awaken from my sleep, and I help her get through it.

This, to me, is one of the true miracles of my implant.  


A different kind of nervous!

A while back, I met someone online who had a hearing loss and was interested in the implant. His name is Tony, and he lives in Alaska. He wears hearing aids, and he has some pretty interesting stories about various hearing aids that have, uh, met their deaths over the years. Tony is a commercial fisherman, and I'm sure that can be a pretty wet job at times. We all know hearing aids and water do not mix...

I'm not sure how Tony initially found out about the Envoy Esteem, but I came across a comment he had left on a blog, asking for more information on the implant. So I emailed him, told him what I could about the implant, and how much I've enjoyed it. We exchanged a few emails and discussed the implant. Tony decided he wanted the implant, and scheduled a date for surgery. If my memory serves me correctly, he had his surgery on May 1st. He was the second person in the U.S. to be implanted post-approval. Unlike me, he was not in a clinical trial for the Esteem, so he paid for his surgery/implant. Tony's wife, Jeanine, said the surgery went fine, no complications at all. I was surprised to find out that he didn't even have that strange sensation of a "dangling" ear because of the post-surgery numbness!

Anyway, Tony will be activated on Wednesday, June 9th! I misunderstood briefly when I talked to Jeanine today, and thought he was being activated today at 1 p.m. It was actually 1:05 at the time, and I was surprised at how nervous I was! I was pacing the room at school. Again, Wednesday is actually the day he will be activated.

I am so nervous and excited, it's not even funny.

It feels like I almost had a certain amount of influence in his decision since I was the only patient he had talked to. So I have a hundred questions going through my head right now:

-What will his reaction be when he first hears with the Esteem?
-Will he like it?
-Will he feel as overwhelmed as I did when I first had to adjust?
-What if he doesn't like it?
-Will he be happy with his decision?
-Will it be as life-changing for him as it was for me?

I can't wait to see what he thinks about the implant. When you're sitting in the doctor's office as they make adjustments to the implant, it's hard to get a real feel for the implant. It's once you get back home, in your familiar surroundings, that you can truly explore the new world of sound. Looking back, I can't help but smile at my reactions to the new sounds I was hearing, and how loud everything was. The talking, chewing, swallowing. The first shower that sounded like I was going through a car wash. Flushing the toilet and thinking the world was ending. Then there were the softer sounds that I'd never heard before. A soft drink fizzing, my children talking in another room, distant thunder, the wind in the trees, a child whispering in my ear.

I just hope Tony enjoys the Esteem as much as I have. I hope it helps him to live life without the limitations that a person with a hearing loss experiences. I hope he discovers sounds he never even knew existed. I hope he smiles the first time he realizes he can now hear sounds he couldn't hear before. I hope, if he uses his remote at all, he gets used to the strange looks he'll get when he says "I can't hear you, my ear is not turned on." I hope he enjoys the new-found freedom of no longer keeping up with a pair of hearing aids. And I hope that, unlike a poor hearing aid or two, he manages to keep his new remote hidden from his dogs. ;D



Ear Center: FDA Approves the Esteem® Implant

Envoy Medical's Esteem® Fully Implantable Hearing Restoration System was Approved by the FDA on March 17, 2010

Envoy Medical, a Minnesota corporation, has developed the first Fully Implantable Hearing Restoration System known as the Esteem®. On March 17, 2010, the FDA formally approved the Esteem® for marketing to the public.

Patrick Spearman, Envoy Medical's Chief Executive Officer, was quoted as saying "This is great news for all sensorineural hearing loss sufferers. Envoy has been able to accomplish with the Esteem® what hearing aids set out to do but were unable to. Our Esteem® allows recipients the opportunity to hear naturally and restore their lives back to normal." In the clinical trial, patients averaged an 11 decibel improvement in Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) scores beyond their hearing aids. At a quiet conversation level, average patient speech understanding improved by more than 45% over their hearing aids.

Esteem® - The Hearing Implant™ - is surgically implanted, invisible to others, and has been approved for the US market. The expected cost will be approximately $30,000/implant (including the device, surgery and audiometric testing).