I have never mentioned before on this blog, but those of you who know me know that I have an older sister who is profoundly deaf. Our mother was stricken with German Measles (Rubella) while pregnant. Deafness and/or blindness are common birth defects associated with that disease.
I have not seen my sister for many years, until today.
She made a long trip “home” from Oregon for Christmas, bearing many gifts, and we all got to meet her new husband.
The greatest gift of all, though, was when she announced that she had something to tell me that was going to be a surprise. I couldn’t guess what was coming next.
She smiled broadly as she said, in a clear voice, without using signs, that she had a surgery in July to receive cochlear implants.
She can hear now.
After 43 and a half years in total silence she can hear. Everything.
I hugged her tightly with tears in my eyes, and questioned incredulously, “You can hear me?”
She told me all about the surgery and the continuing therapy she attends to help her interpret and make sense of all the sounds she can hear that she doesn’t know the origin of.
She asks her husband constantly, “What is that sound?” and he tells her “That is the sound a crow makes.” (Which she has pronounced as annoying, by the way.) Or “That is the sound of people walking.”
The very first thing she heard, which she never even knew was a sound, was her own breath. She was amazed that breathing made a sound!
Another amazing discovery for her was the sound of a pen on paper. She could hardly believe that the small act of drawing a pen across paper could be heard!
These are some of the things she told me, with wonder in her eyes, that she has heard for the first time in her life:
- the wind blowing
- her cat “meow”ing
- water running
- a dog barking
She said the most beautiful thing she has heard so far has been piano music, so naturally, we had an impromptu piano recital on the spot!
Her therapist has said she must still lip read so that she can practice putting together the words she knows with the sounds that go with them. It will take years of practice to correctly interpret all of the sounds she will hear. She told me the hearing part of her brain has been asleep for over 40 years and now it must wake up.
It has been overwhelming for her, she says. She never knew there was so much noise going on around her. Sometimes she takes her device off for a break from the noise, but she is thrilled to be able to put it back on again just to hear rippling water or a singing bird or a child calling her name.
Our entire family is rejoicing and praising God for her new gift.
The miraculous gift of hearing.
*Read “Receiving Cochlear Impants”, where I interview my sister about her procedure.