Sarah Churman of Texas has been severely hearing deficient since the day she was born. She couldn't hear anything except maybe a chainsaw buzzing close to her ears. After 29 years of lip reading she was presented with another option.
Sloan Churman, her husband, heard a radio ad for the Esteem Inner Ear Stimulator by Envoy Medical. The Esteem is an implant which allows people suffering from sensorineural hearing loss, which is what Sarah has, to hear. The only downside of the implant is the price. The esteem implant costs $30,000.
Sarah and her husband saved as much as they could and borrowed what they couldn't just to get Sarah the implant. Sarah reflects on what she thought about gaining the ability to hear after living her whole life without it:
“Half of me was just scared to death, that it was going to come on and I wasn’t going to like it, just because…this is all I’ve ever known for 29 years,”
“So the fear of the unknown, not knowing what it was going to sound like can be overwhelming. And it was just nervousness, (but) then the other half of me, ‘Oh hurry up and turn it on!’"
Sarah and her husband Sloan video taped the session when her hearing device was first turned on:
I can't even imagine what it must be like to live without music and conversation. It must have been quite overwhelming, especially in those first few moments.
“The funny thing is…the first time we traveled outside the country, everyone kept talking about our accents, so I was kind of surprised — I didn’t think I had an accent."