Before Jill McAlister and Marcie Pratt went skydiving together, they had never met. But, the two shared more in common than they would have believed. They both have congenital hearing loss, with late diagnosis due to several years of misdiagnosis as young children; they are both Esteem recipients; and now, they’ve jumped out of an airplane together.
Jill and Marcie met on a trip to San Diego to give a presentation to an advisory panel of otologists about their success with their Esteems. At the meeting, both women got to reconnect with the surgeons who performed their implant surgeries, Dr. Jack Shohet and Dr. Michael Seidman, in a heart-warming reunion. Jill and Marcie also took questions from the audience – a feat that would have been impossible for both women just a few years ago.
A Shared History of Hearing Loss
Jill is a special education teacher in California. After 26 years of isolation and frustration while she coped with hearing loss, Jill decided it was time for a permanent change and received the Esteem. Now, years later, Jill is a happier and more confident person. She can enjoy taking her niece and nephew to the water park, swimming in the ocean and standing under Niagara Falls.
“My life has changed for the better since I received my Esteem,” said Jill. “I was constantly straining to hear others, and I’d get these terrible headaches from the stress of the hearing aids. I was always an outsider and could never figure out why I couldn’t connect with people. Now I know it's because I couldn't hear them! I feel like I fit in for the first time in my life.”
Marcie works as a nurse in Michigan. Before Marcie received her Esteem five years ago, she’d given up on nursing because her hearing loss prevented her from communicating with patients and using equipment. Now, she can hear through a normal stethoscope and has gone back to bedside nursing and surgery. Marcie’s favorite moments with her Esteem are feeling confident during quiet conversations with her husband and her ability to hear during water sports, like kayaking, rafting and swimming.
“It’s amazing how comfortable it is to hear with the Esteem,” said Marcie. “With my hearing aids, I used so much energy trying to hear that I was always exhausted at the end of the day. I came home with headaches and neck tension constantly. Now, hearing feels like second nature. It’s such a relief to be able to use my energy on what really matters, like building relationships with my family and friends.”
Let’s Go Skydiving!
Thanks to Esteem, Jill and Marcie were able to take in all the sights and sounds of skydiving. They listened to their skydiving instructor’s advice, made small talk with the pilot and heard the roar of the plane’s engines. After jumping, they were able to fully enjoy the sounds of the wind and the whipping of the parachute while it deployed. While they were free falling, they could even hear their instructors pointing out the sites of San Diego from the air. Both agreed– none of this would be possible without Esteem.
“Being able to hear clearly while skydiving was an unbelievable experience,” said Jill. “It was a crazy and loud environment, but I could hear my instructor clearly and the rushing of the wind through my ears. It made me feel like anything is possible.”
Get in touch to find out more or to speak with an Esteem Counselor today about life untethered by hearing loss!