Four Senses: A 40 Year Old Deaf Woman Hears For the First Time

Four Senses: A 40 Year Old Deaf Woman Hears For the First Time

Written by tyson pettegrew, Posted on , in Section Embracing Our Uniqueness

Some of the greatest stories ever told are those of overcoming impossible obstacles. Relying heavily on our senses everyday, it’s difficult to fully comprehend how important every sense really is. Every morning, a billion different alarm clocks go off, signaling the start of another day. We hear the alarm and more often than not, touch the snooze button and return to sleep for the best and worst five minutes of every day. We slowly roll out of bed, feeling the cold ground against the soles of our feet. We look carefully, navigating the seemingly endless maze of furniture. Arriving in the bathroom, we continue the process of making ourselves presentable. The sting of mint flavored mouthwash swishes around in our mouths, as we get ready to undertake another day in an endless cycle. 

Within the first twenty minutes of every day our body and mind are already rapidly using every single one of our senses. Now imagine doing all of those tasks without hearing, and then after so long imagine doing it without sight. While being deaf and blind is uncommon, it’s how Joanne Milne spent the last 20 years of her adult life.

Growing up without the ability to hear can be a life of extreme isolation, especially being raised in a small town. Communities of deaf people get together and are able to relate to one another based on their common disability. But being able to communicate with people that are unable to hear, in most cases, requires that the person see the motions being made with their hands. Joanne Milne suffers from Usher Syndrome, and had been deaf since birth. The condition that isolated her from much of society continued to worsen, and in her twenties she lost her vision, making her life even more difficult.

Now nearing forty, and having never heard a single sound in her entire life, she was fortunate enough to receive the life-changing cochlear implants. Cochlear implants are a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Cochlear implants may help provide hearing in patients that are deaf because of damage to sensory hair cells in their cochleas.

Her reaction is inspiring and uplifting. It seems more often than not, our lives are filled with grief, misery, and sorrow. Watching this video helps us feel how fortunate we are to be able to simply hear and react to sound. Science is opening doors for humanity in more ways than I could have ever even imagined.