Amy Pajula

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The Cost of Hearing Loss

Posted by Amy Pajula on February 26, 2019

I had already been struggling with my hearing loss for years when I became a first year college student. Now, however, I was away from home and in danger of failing some of my classes. The frequent embarrassment in social situations and feelings of isolation (even in a crowded room) were something I had always struggled with. The addition of college-level academic stress was paralyzing and nearly unbearable. I was struggling to navigate it all. I was being tested on information I couldn’t make sense of. I went to the audiologist to share my frustration and she showed me a huge pair of hearing aids that would be a good fit for my loss. Although I was on a budget, it was very important to me that I had smaller and more hidden hearing aids. She reluctantly showed my a smaller pair that she felt wouldn't be as good of a fit. I put the entire purchase on a credit card. The set was $2300 and was the most expensive purchase I had ever made.

The hearing aids did help as I sat in the front of my classes. I wasn't straining as hard to understand and was able to follow the lecture. However, the second anyone behind or around me started shuffling papers, opening a soda,  unzipping a backpack, or flipping a notebook page all I could hear was the extraneous sounds so I missed the notes. The social stress continued as I lived in a dorm and was always around people and I couldn't wear my hearing aids all of the time.  The cost of batteries added up and they were not easy to find unless I went back to the clinic where I purchased the aids.

Three years later I was a junior in college and still sitting in the front row of my classes. Classes were more detailed, lectures were specific with examples, and I couldn’t create decent notes even with my hearing aids in. That familiar stress and anxiety set in and I knew I had to get my hearing re-tested. While my hearing loss had not changed, I learned my hearing aids were breaking down and needed an expensive repair. My audiologist reminded me that this was one of the drawbacks of hearing aids of this type because all of the mechanics were in the ear canal, which is a moist environment, and they would likely break down again. I had only recently completed my payments. She encouraged me to try newer, better fit hearing aids suggesting this would be a better investment. 

Trying the hearing aids, I was dismayed to see you could see them in my ear and they felt large and awkward in my small ears. I did notice I could hear better with them right away. At $3500 they were almost twice as much as my last ones and I couldn't believe how unlucky I was at having to purchase new ones. At the end of the day my ears were so sore, I had to remove them. Often times when going out at night, I did not wear them because in the louder environments they did not help me understand conversation and it was just a wall of noise and clanking silverware. However, in my classes I was able to survive.

I did not realize it at the time, but this would be my journey for many years. I would worry about my hearing and I would worry about my hearing aids. I would worry about different aspects of my life, my classes, and ultimately my job. I couldn’t understand the voicemail I had listened to 100 times, or couldn’t understand what the person calling me was asking. I was missing important information at meetings. I contributed to a meeting and was told “we just discussed that”.  My kids would get frustrated, my husband would get frustrated, and I would get frustrated.  My social life was challenging because there were times I just couldn’t follow what was going on despite using hearing aids.

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Topics: Esteem, hearing loss, testimonial, live well with hearing loss, hear everyday, all-day, costs, Amy

Battery Replacement for the New Year - A personal Story

Posted by Amy Pajula on January 8, 2019

 As a bilateral Esteem® patient, I have experienced hassle-free hearing for almost 9 years. It has been an amazing journey and one that I would never change. Not for anything. I jump in lakes, go water-skiing, and hop on a paddle board when I feel like it. I throw my hair back in a ponytail when I go to the gym, and don’t worry about sweat. I pull my winter hat over my ears when I go outside without feedback or worrying about static electricity damaging something. I don’t have to clean earwax or worry about humidity, and I no longer live in fear of losing a hearing aid (which I did right before getting my first Esteem®). In addition, I can use earbuds just like everyone else and easily talk on the phone. I have as much freedom and access to my hearing as someone who hears well without an aid.

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Topics: Esteem, hearing loss, testimonial, live well with hearing loss, hear everyday, all-day, Amy

Common Misconceptions and Concerns with the Esteem® Active Middle Ear Implant.

Posted by Amy Pajula on December 12, 2018

As a proud member of the hearing loss community, a hearing aid user for nearly three decades, and a happy bilateral Esteem® recipient, I am intimately familiar with the journey a person takes as they explore their hearing loss and the options available to them. I know the desire to find a better solution, one that works better for you and doesn’t seem to get in the way as much as it helps.  

After I became an Esteem® recipient, I became an Esteem® Counselor with Envoy Medical. I have worked with hundreds of other Esteem® recipients, and have probably talked to thousands of people with hearing loss looking for something more than a hearing aid.

Until recently, hearing aids were really the only treatment option for people diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. Over the last few decades, more technologies have come along for different types and levels of hearing loss. 

Active Middle Ear Implants are one of those relatively newer solutions for people with a certain level of sensorineural hearing loss. The Esteem® is the only fully implanted active middle ear implant FDA approved and commercially available in the United States.

The following are some common questions or concerns that I hear from people on looking into the Esteem® in the midst of their hearing loss journey.

Why not just get another hearing aid?

First, the Esteem® is only for those people who have tried a well-fit hearing aid for at least 30 days. If a hearing aid works for you, great! The Esteem® is something more and is geared towards people who have tried hearing aids and don’t get what they want out of them. They need something more.

Second, if you have tried hearing aids and are not satisfied, it is important to understand why. 

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Topics: Esteem, hearing loss, live well with hearing loss, Amy

Hearing loss is a lifelong journey that can be an emotional roller-coaster. It can be daunting, frustrating, and isolating. It is important to know, however, that you are not alone. You are one of tens of millions of people live with some type and level of hearing loss. There is a broad community of people who understand what you are going through. 
 
That being said, your journey is unique, and how you approach your hearing loss is up to you. Hopefully, with the support and guidance of family, friends, and, of course, hearing healthcare professionals.  
 
The Sounding Board blog is designed to provide some insight on everything from general hearing loss topics to the specific experiences of individuals willing to share some stories from their personal journey.
 
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