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Deaf since birth, woman hears - for the first time

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/28/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Cochlear implants allows woman to hear friends, dogs barking, music

Deaf since birth, 40-year-old Joanne Milne received cochlear implants - and is now learning to hear the world for the very first time. Electronic implants were switched on, and Milne burst into tears when the sound of a nurse reciting the days of the week gave her the first sensation of sound.

Deaf since birth, 40-year-old Joanne Milne received cochlear implants - and is now learning to hear the world for the very first time. Electronic implants were switched on, and Milne burst into tears when the sound of a nurse reciting the days of the week gave her the first sensation of sound.

Deaf since birth, 40-year-old Joanne Milne received cochlear implants - and is now learning to hear the world for the very first time. Electronic implants were switched on, and Milne burst into tears when the sound of a nurse reciting the days of the week gave her the first sensation of sound.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/28/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Deafness, cochlear implants, first time


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Milne's mother filmed the moment they were turned on by remote control.

"Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can't stop crying," Milne, from Gateshead, said. "Over the last 48 hours hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering and just being with friends - they didn't have to tap my arm or leg to get my attention, which is a massive leap for a deaf person."

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Admittedly, the rustle of a bag of potato chips "made her jump." Milne says she's looking forward to the day when she will be able to use a telephone. More than anything, she looks forward to listening to music. 

"Being deaf was just who I was and I didn't really have any negative thoughts about my deafness, just the one thing of missing out on music," she said. "I have always wondered what it must be like."

Milne's friends have chosen their favorite songs from each year of her life, ranging from Paul McCartney to Elbow, to give her a crash course on what she has missed.

Milne works for the charity Sense. She underwent surgery at the Midlands Implant Center at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. Cochlear implants, which were first developed in the 1960s and have been given to more than 300,000 people since then, stimulate auditory nerves to make patients artificially hear noises.

A rare condition called Usher Syndrome, which affects her hearing caused her to start losing her vision in her early 20s. She now has severe tunnel vision and is registered blind.

 "The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I'm still in shock now. The hearing world sounds so loud and alien. The first day everybody sounded robotic and I have to learn to recognize what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.

"I can already foresee how it's going to be life changing and the implants will get better and better over time. I'm so, so happy.

"I'm hearing words without lip-reading already; new sounds like the Tannoy at a train station, my knife clinking my plate as I eat - even the rustle of a packet of crisps made me jump!

"I'm attempting to use the telephone but its one step at a time as it's all so daunting. It's the small things that are huge life changing experiences to me right now and this will probably last a few months.

"Wearing hearing aids I could still hear some sounds which helped me be aware of the environment I was in. If I walked into a room where a television was on I would hear the noise but not what was being said.

"I recognize the vibrations but have never, ever heard the words to music."

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