My parents always tell me how I used to be such an energetic and outgoing child. I started to lose my hearing at the age of 4 and a half and I began to withdraw and become anxious and shy. Having a hearing loss is an invisible disability that in some ways makes it even harder. I miss out on so much around me and my conversations with people are very difficult at times. I would always pretend to hear conversations even if I couldn't which made things awkward and put a strain on myself and my self esteem. High school was a very difficult time in my life, I became depressed and withdrew even more as I was afraid to engage in conversations in case I could not hear the person. I was also very self conscious of the fact that my hearing aids could be visible to my classmates without my hair always covering my ears.
I have been dealing with hearing aids since I was 4 and a half years old. Even though hearing aids do not work perfectly, the sound is distorted and sounds like a microphone, the constant care of batteries and making sure it doesn't get lost or wrecked with water, making for an uncomfortable lifestyle, I am grateful to have them and could not function without hearing aids. The Envoy Esteem (www.envoymedical.com) is a fully implantable hearing device that actually uses the natural sound waves of the ear instead of a microphone as a hearing aid does. The Esteem is completely invisible and can be left on 24/7, it makes it possible for people like me to do anything they want in their lives that the hearing aid put limits on. For example, swimming. For me this is one of the things that makes me most excited about the Esteem, I love to swim and have excelled in swimming lessons. I had one day wanted to be a lifeguard. As my hearing grew worse I stopped taking the courses leading up to being a lifeguard due to not being able to hear my own voice or the instructor, without my hearing aids and hearing aids cannot get wet. Watching TV, movies and listening to music proves to be a constant struggle. it is hard to distinguish what people are saying. This has been especially hard on me, not being able to converse with people about new songs on the radio or movies, unless I watch it at home with subtitles. Watching movies with friends has been awkward as well, not being able to catch everything the actors say or the funny parts where everyone laughs and I miss it and therefore feel left out.
At university I cannot always hear the professor, especially if they have an accent, it is also a struggle to try and follow in class discussions due to not being able to hear the other students, so I am registered through the disability services and use a note taker which is a volunteer. If no one volunteers to be a note taker for the class I am out of luck and struggle. Talking on the phone is another issue I deal with daily, hearing aids tend to get feed back, especially on the phone and it makes it very hard to understand what the person is trying to tell me. This has become a huge factor in my job choices. I presently work part-time in a nursing home where I do not have to talk on the phone or deal with the public.
I am excited to think that never again will I have to look in the mirror and be constantly reminded of my disability, I will never have to take out hearing aids in order to sleep comfortably, to be reminded of it every single morning I wake up, and I can finally confidently wear my hair up and I will feel free to consider different job opportunities! I believe that the Envoy Esteem will make a huge impact on my life, it will help bring back my confidence and drive for doing the things I want in life.
The Funds Will be Used for:
Cost of device - $30,000
Travel expenses - 3 trips to California. First for surgery, second for activation of device and third for follow-up and adjustments and fine tuning
Future battery replacement
Thank you for considering helping me to hear better, I deeply appreciate it.
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