Regarding the activation. It went as scheduled. They “turn it on”, make a number of adjustments and settings (just as with a regular aid) and you start on a program of gradually increasing the volume setting in a series (for me anyway) of 15 steps; one every 3 days or so for a period of another 2 months. This lets you get accustomed to the sounds, etc. Then back in for final adjustments where they set up the 3 optional programs and associated volume settings. I have had no “medical” issues with the implant. And I greatly appreciate not having to take something in and out with rain, shower, sweating, etc… The control is a bit big to carry around but works fine. As an engineer I tend to “fiddle” with such things, but I can see where most people would set it and forget it at some point.
My experience so far… I am pleased with everything except clarity. Voices sound a bit “Donald Duck” like when listening to TV or radio… but my old aids were not a lot different. I am hoping that will improve with the next step in adjustments. I usually wear my hearing aid in the other ear during the day and that helps most situations. At this point I am glad I got the procedure, but there are a number of factors one should be fully aware of and consider carefully. I’ll elaborate more on this in another month or so.
UPDATE Oct 11, 2012
I went back to the Envoy Center in The Woodlands, Houston, Tx for the second round with the audiologist after her initial activation of the device two months ago. At this session, she checked the device for proper operation, and went through an extensive procedure of setting the three program options and the 6 volume settings. So now I have the Esteem in one ear, and my original remaining Bernafon Verite in the other. As I had hoped in the above, the programing and settings did help the clarity of voices issue. Although I have now only had these settings for less than 24 hours, I think they will be fine. I am resigned to the fact that no device or aid returns hearing to what might be considered “normal”… but the Esteem is as good as my Bernafon and has many other advantages. I can get along fine around the house with just the Envoy and think that will be my normal mode. In addition to nothing at all being visible (an advantage I personally don’t care about) it is great being able to sweat, shower, and swim and have nothing to worry about losing when working in the yard. For periods of watching TV or when “in public” I will wear the external aid as well, as that does definitely help in fidelity and clarity.
Summary: The Envoy people have been first class with all of their professionalism and interactions. I have had clear and timely responses to my phone and email questions over the last several months. Their facilities and people here in the Houston area are first class. I have no regrets or second thoughts since undergoing the surgery in June 2012. There are, however, some significant issues to which one should give full consideration:
- It is expensive… $30,000 + and not covered by insurance (although I understand they are working hard to get this changed)
- It is a major surgery, with those associated risks.
- It is reversible if necessary, but who would want to have to do that.
- It does impact one’s sense of taste a bit. They say this goes away in time, but so far, mine has not changed. This isn’t a big negative to me, but could be if you have an extensive investment in fine wines.
- It is a definite plus (and a psychological comfort) to be within a 45 minute drive from home to the facility. This was particularly true in the two months after the surgery. Although I have no facts, I doubt that most audiologists would have the training or the equipment to set and adjust the device, at least until use is much more widespread.
If you have specific questions or would like a personal email response, feel free to leave a post to that effect.