Esteem Recipient Farris McElreath Rediscovers Himself, No Hearing Aids Attached
Esteem recipient Farris McElreath, 66, of Gainesville, Ga. has struggled with hearing loss since he was a teenager. When his hearing test in high school revealed that inner ear nerve damage would lead to irreversible hearing loss, he wasn’t surprised. His father had hearing loss, as did his grandfather. Farris knew it was only a matter of time until he would develop hearing problems. What he was surprised by, however, was how these difficulties not only affected his hearing ability, but also his everyday life.
Fiddling with Hearing Aids
People with hearing loss not only have to learn how to manage the ins and outs of being hard of hearing; many also have to endure the never-ending struggle of finding the right solution. This search can include fiddling with hearing aids and other devices. While some of these options may amplify sound for the user, they are often bothersome to deal with.
“I’ve tried almost all of them [hearing aids], the inner ear, the one that sits on top of the ear, even the one that makes a mold of your ear… none of them ever fit well,” Farris said. “One of the other things is the battery. Every six or seven days I’d have to change the batteries and they always go out at the wrong time. I’d also always have to remember to take them off before jumping in the shower or taking a dip in the pool.”
Finding a Solution
On December 17, 2014, Farris was able to say goodbye to the fiddling, battery changes and constant inconvenience of hearing aids. This was the date that his new Esteem Hearing Implant was activated at Dr. William McFeely’s North Alabama ENT Associates office in Madison, Ala. Farris was Dr. McFeely’s 100th Esteem activation.
When his sound was turned on, for the first time in years, Farris was able to hear footsteps, the soft tones of his wife’s voice, and this was just the beginning. Since the activation, Farris has “gotten back to being himself” – something that the retired architect never thought he would be able to do again.
“There are things that I have never heard before, I feel like I am still on the learning curve,” Farris said about his improved hearing ability with Esteem.
One sound that Farris had never previously heard, that he could recall, is the snap, crackle and pop of a fireworks display. On New Year’s Eve 2014, Farris and his wife Eileen went to their beach retreat at Tybee Island, Ga. As the fireworks display rung in 2015, Farris could not believe his ears. Not only could he hear the final booms of the show; but he was also able to fully participate in the entire journey of each firework in the display. He heard each firework snap as it ascended from the ground; then sizzle as the trail of sparks ignited the night sky; as it reached its final height, he heard it pop over the water as it exploded and cascaded over the water.
“It is truly a wonderful experience when all of your senses are engaged,” Farris said.
Fireworks are just one of life’s activities that Farris is looking forward to re-experiencing with his new Esteem Hearing Implant. This summer he hopes to enjoy convertible car rides with Eileen, without worrying about wind noise in his hearing aids. This fall, he hopes to catch every play-by-play when he watches his beloved Georgia Bulldogs take down the opposition at Sanford Stadium. Most of all, he’s excited about the chance to be him again, no hearing aids attached.
* Individual results from the Esteem Hearing Implant® may vary