RED LAKE FALLS, Minn. — A Red Lake Falls man is living a completely different life than he was a year ago thanks to a cochlear implant.
Before getting the implant he could understand no words from his right year, but now he can understand up to 90%.
Now imagine not being able to listen to music, hear the turn signal in your car or even hear yourself simply walking on the grass.
Elroy Maygra has lived this way for most of his life.
"It gets to the point where you don't answer the telephone anymore, because you can't. You can't hear the person on the phone. You ignore things; you basically crawl under a rock," Maygra says.
He lost his hearing in his right ear as a young child from infections and hearing in his left ear began to deteriorate in his 20s.
He couldn't hear at all in his right and could only hear about 23% in his left.
He tried using hearing aids but was still struggling to hear.
"It got to the point where I didn't even feel like I want to leave the house anymore," Maygra says.
However in June of 2020 his life changed completely, for the better. He received a cochlear implant.
"Before surgery, he got 0% words correct in that year. And now when it's quiet, he can get 90% of the words correct. And when there's background noise, he can get up to 80% correct," Dr. Michael Shiners said.
Dr. Shiners says that out of all of the patients, like Elroy Maygra, that are a good candidate for cochlear implantation, only about 6-8% of adults actually get one.
"Do I want somebody in my head, putting things in there and you have all those thoughts. I do a lot of research on things and I see in the success rate that they've been having and I told myself I either have to do something or I'm not going to be here anymore. You know it would have gotten that bad," Maygra says.
Recovery can take up to two years to completely heal and involves lots of therapy and trial and error.
"They basically saved my life because I could see where I couldn't have functioned much longer, you know. Eventually, something would have happen," Maygra says.
Dr. Shiners says if you've already tried hearing aids and you're still struggling to hear, then you could consider a cochlear implant as an option.