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.
I often forget I have an Esteem®, however, in December, I noticed when changing my volume setting on my right ear that the “low battery” light on my programmer was flashing. Knowing this could simply be a sign of my programmer needing fresh batteries, I replaced the batteries and tried again. As I changed the volume I heard two confirmation tones instead of one, and the light was still flashing. All signs pointed to a depleting Esteem® battery. I thought back over the last few weeks and remembered I had been concerned that my hearing was getting worse. I did the math and realized it had been almost five years. I was relieved it seemed it was my Esteem® battery, and not my hearing, that was depleting.
A quick visit with my Esteem® Audiologist confirmed it was the battery, and that I should schedule a battery replacement in the next few weeks. With the Esteem® the quality of hearing decreases a bit when the battery depletes, it doesn’t go out right away like a hearing aid does. Instead, it slowly depletes over several weeks before it goes out, so you have time to schedule a battery replacement procedure. The personal programmer allows you to change the settings and volume of the device by simply holding it up to your head. The same programmer will show you your battery is depleting not only by a flashing light on the remote but by hearing two confirmation tones when you change a program or volume instead of one tone. An Esteem® Audiologist can then confirm depletion in a quick appointment.
I contacted my surgeon’s site, and the date I got was December 20th, right in the middle of several social events and just before house guests arrived for the holidays! I realized there wasn’t going to be a time when my hearing wasn’t needed, and I was used to hearing all of the time. I confirmed the date and added some craziness to my schedule.
The Esteem® battery sits above and behind the ear in the temporal bone in the piece called the Sound Processor which looks like number two in this picture . The Sound Processor holds the battery and all of the software for the Esteem®, so when you need a “battery change” you really get a whole new Sound Processor.
The Esteem® battery replacement procedure is performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia depending on the patient and the surgeon. I have always had my procedure performed under local anesthesia. The process takes about 45 minutes, and while it feels like a surgery because you are in a hospital gown and wheeled into the OR, it’s a remarkably simple procedure. When the battery is removed it’s very quiet, and then as soon as the new one is plugged in your hearing is back. It’s a relief! They stitch you up, place a bandage around your head and away you go to change, get post-surgery instructions, and get released!
One of my favorite things about the Esteem® is the fact that it’s designed to be backwards compatible. This means that as changes and updates are made to the device in terms of the battery longevity and improved software any patient gets to take advantage of these changes at the time of the battery replacement. My battery was replaced with the current Esteem®, however as the next generation is developed and completed, I will get to take advantage of any and all of these upgrades at battery change. My hearing is now taken care of for the next several years!
I made it through a great Holiday Season thanks to a quick and easy battery change. In fact, I even went to a holiday party the night after my surgery – and no one was the wiser!
I received some great new wireless headphones for Christmas. There is a left earbud and a right earbud and they sit in my ear with no wires and sound amazing! The only problem is I just don’t find them comfortable for my ears. After 30 minutes my ear itches and gets sweaty and sore. I went snowshoeing with them and one fell out of my ear and into the snow. I found it – thank goodness! – but I don’t use them as much because they are uncomfortable and I am concerned about losing them. This reminded me of how used to hassle free hearing I am.
I guess I do best with nothing in my ear!
Below is a picture of me taken 30 minutes after the procedure. I wrapped a scarf around the bandage because we went to have lunch before going home!
Hi, my name is Amy - I have personally experienced the unique challenges of living with hearing loss as a teenager, a college student, a young professional, a new mother, and now the mother of two teenagers. I had significant challenges in each of those roles as I tried to manage my hearing loss and minimize the negative impact it had on my life. I stumbled upon the Esteem® at a low point in my hearing loss journey while trying to manage a stressful career, two active toddlers, and hearing aids that did not work with my lifestyle. I am now a bilateral Esteem® recipient and am thankful every day that I found this solution. I understand the necessity of finding a hearing solution that enhances your life and look forward to educating you on the Esteem®. I can be emailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with ANY questions. If a phone call is your preference, I can be reached at 651-361-8050. I look forward to connecting with you!