Monday, August 3, 2009
What Caused My Deafness?
I was born severely hearing impaired, and became profoundly deaf by my early 20's. The reason? Neural deafness (dead nerves, dead ganglion cells, etc.). Dead nerves caused hearing to be missing from my high tones down to mid low tones. The dead cells caused clarity of sound to come across as weak, muffled, and distorted. Therefore, there wasn't enough available components working within my inner ear to send messages to my brain in order to hear properly. My inner ear never allowed me to know the direction from where sound came; so, just like with the cochlear implant, I have to find and locate the sounds I hear. That never changes nor improves. Also, hearing through an implant provides a broader spectrum of sound (both high tones and low tones), and tries to help with clarity; but, it's never going to be 'normal'. It IS, however, a new avenue to train one's brain to hear as never before. Lip-reading and people-reading became my survival. I was never put into a deaf school, nor taught to sign. I remember my hearing specialist telling my mother that if I could continue to communicate in the ways that I had naturally adapted to, that my world would be much larger and full than in a deaf world alone. So, that's what she did. The implant is digitally produced with artificial cells, and sends the outside sounds to my brain, and my brain thinks I can hear. The implant is sort of a "new inner ear", allowing my brain to now process and "hear" sounds. So, hearing is actually in the brain; the ear itself is simply intricate components that send messages of sound to the brain. There were parts of my brain, concerning hearing, that had never been used; so, we had to see if my brain was going to be slow in processing the new sounds. When I first started hearing through the implant, sound came across more slowly than the lips I was reading. It's the same as when the sound is not lined up with a movie picture. They told me that my brain would most likely catch up, to give it a week or two and see if it gets better...or, it would always be slow...but, sometimes, the brain in that area never improves (it can kind of 'die' too). Thanks be to God, my brain caught up, and has been on overload ever since :-)