Tim Hesterley and his 6-year-old daughter Mackenzie sat recently in a chair in their living room. As she read one of her favorite books, he watched over her shoulder and helped her pronounce some of the words she had trouble with.

Six months ago, Hesterley wouldn't have been able to do that. He would have had to have read his daughter's lips to understand what she was saying. If he could not read her lips, he wasn't able to help her read.

Things have changed though, since Hesterley had surgery in July. receiving a cochlear implant to restore the hearing he lost as a child.

It's not perfect yet, but Hesterley is slowly getting used to the sounds the world makes around him, whether it's his daughters digging in the refrigerator a room away or the rain on the roof of the family's new Cullman home.

"Everything is still loud," said Tim, 43, of the sounds bombarding receptors in his brain that have not received a signal since he was about 5 years old.

The implant inserted at Shea Ear Clinic in Memphis, Tenn., threaded electrodes from the internal device through the ear canal. Each of the more than two dozen electrodes represents a different frequency of sound, from high to low, and sends the signal to his brain. Tim said he's still having trouble with the high frequency sounds.

Tim's wife Laura can definitely see a difference in her husband's ability to hear.

"I don't have to talk as loud over the phone at work," she said.

Laura said she has a tendency to block out noises while she's on the computer and is now brought out of her computer daze by Tim asking what Mackenzie and her little sister Kayla doing when they make a racket in another room.

"I see improvement," she said. "He said he doesn't, but he got up one morning and said, 'Is it raining?' And I said, 'Yeah.'"

She's also been able to talk in a lower tone of voice to him at home, although at times she forgets and talks louder than she intends when he asks her to repeat something.

"He'll say, 'Just repeat it. You don't have to yell at me,'" Laura said.

He still has problems in crowds and can't really carry on a conversation over a cell phone.

When the implant was first turned on, Tim said there was a lot of static and people's voices sounded like a robot.

"It's not as static like it was," Tim said, and the voices don't sound as weird anymore. Sometimes it's still difficult to figure out from where a sound is coming.

He is most appreciative of the fact that he can now her Mackenzie and Kayla when they're out playing in the yard or in another room of the house.

Before when Mackenzie would read to him, "I couldn't really tell what she was saying," Tim said.

Though it's not yet perfect, he can help his daughter with her reading.

"It makes me feel better that I can help her," Tim said.

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