What is it like when the world slowly and steadily goes silent on you? Amanda Esthelman, a 13-year-old teenager, was born with partial hearing. She went deaf in one ear, and steadily lost hearing in the other. Read on how modern technology helped her regain some fundamental, basic requirements and pleasures of life, that we take so much for granted.
Not that it is any less painful, but for somebody who is born without any hearing at all, one really does not know what one is missing. But when you have had the good fortune of having your hearing and then it slowly disappears, depriving you of an essential sensory perception, life can be quite painful and disappointing.
Betsy Eshelman was growing extremely anxious about her daughter’s hearing problem getting worse day by day. According to Today, her daughter Amanda had enlarged vestibular aqueducts, which caused deafness in her left ear at a young age. Although she had been using the hearing aid, she’s been steadily losing hearing in her right ear, too.
“She would look at me and say, ‘I can’t hear, Mom. I don’t like this. I can’t hear,’ and we would go get tested and sure enough, the right side had gone down. So we would adjust the hearing aid but then (later) she would say, ‘I can’t hear, Mom. I don’t like this.’ … It’s hard for a mom to watch.”
Amanda struggled in school as well. In spite of sitting at the front of the class, she would often have to request the teacher to repeat things or just manage with reading lips.
She then underwent a cochlear implant surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, during which doctors implanted an electrode array in her left ear. The device would help Amanda pick up sounds electronically instead of acoustically. On Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, Amanda travelled back with her parents to the hospital to have her new cochlear implant turned on hoping to hear new sounds that she had never heard before.
“I said, ‘Hi, baby,’ and she just started crying, and I started crying,” Betsy Eshelman of Ballwin, Missouri told Today. “It was wonderful.” She burst into tears when she realized she could finally hear her mother’s voice again.
“We went into it kind of cautious,” Eshelman said. “They had said she hasn’t heard on this side for at least ten years, we don’t know if it will work, if her brain will be able to recognize these signals. So we were a little bit nervous, trying not to get our hopes up as we walked in.”
Amanda was anxious too, as she did not know what to expect, but kept the smile on her face, hoping for the best.
“I was very excited, but I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t sound how I wanted it to sound, or it would be different than I thought it would be,” Amanda said. “Then they turned it on and it was awesome.
“The smiles and tears on the mother-daughter pair tell us the surgery was a grand success. Now Amanda is able to hear sounds she never thought existed. She describes the sounds she hears and is surprised that even the fan and the light make sounds.
“It’s been great,” Eshelman said. “She made the comment that she didn’t realize how loud we all were! She didn’t realize how quiet her world had become.”
“Every day gets better,” Samanda added. ‘I just realize how lucky I am.”
Perhaps this touching story will help us be more appreciative of the beautiful senses we are blessed with!