Today’s ain’t-technology-wonderful moment

There’s no better way to end a week of news than the face of joy.

This was Sloan Churman’s big news story this week. After 29 years of living in silence — she was born deaf — she heard her own voice this week, after getting a hearing implant.

Her husband was doing the filming here and Ms. Churman said she wished he had kept the camera going longer, but he was crying.

  • BJ

    Really, can’t you go one week without you making me cry Bob. :)

  • David G

    I love these CI activation clips. Probably because my own activation wasn’t nearly so dramatic. This one is another favorite of mine.

    (I hope I didn’t botch the html code for the link)

  • Mark Gisleson

    I’m a bit confused by this story. If Ms. Churman has been deaf all her life, how could she understand what the nurse was saying to her?

    An amazing clip but I’d love to know more about this story.

  • Bob Collins

    She read lips. But in the above video she HEARD what the nurse was saying.

  • David G

    Well, she heard SOMETHING. That it was comprehensible speech, that wasn’t my experience.

  • Jim Shapiro

    David G –

    Thanks a mil for contributing your invaluable knowledge and experience to those of us who are ignorant of the realities of audiopathology.

  • David G

    If anyone is interested, I could try and expand a bit on my activation experience a bit, that might help explain what Ms. Churman was likely experiencing.

    And if you’re really interested in it, I would also recommend the memoir “Rebuilt” by Mike Chorost, on his experience receiving a CI.

  • Heather

    David, that would be really interesting, actually.

  • Mark Gisleson

    I did a little more digging and learned that she had used hearing aids, although they were not a good solution for her. I wondered because yes, you can learn to speak by lip reading, but if you had never been able to hear at all, you wouldn’t recognize what people were saying the first time you heard a human voice.

  • David G

    Like Mark, I looked a little further on this.

    Turns out Ms. Churman’s received a middle ear implant called the Esteem, which is very different from my cochlear implant. So I’m not sure how relevant my experience will be.

    I don’t fully understand how it works, but the middle ear implant is much more similar to a hearing aid, so there may not be the learning and adjustment period that most cochlear implant users go through.

    Depending on her specific hearing loss, her speech comprehension could have been very good from the start.

  • David G

    So anyway, my experience with a cochlear implant:

    I got my cochlear implant 3 years ago, after almost 40 years of a stable moderate-to-profound hearing loss became severe-to-profound.I have a “waterfall audiogram, in which low frequencies were close to normal, but my hearing quickly fell as they increased, so that the audiogram looks like a waterfall. SO, while I heard some sounds, I was missing out on a lot. Especially speech sounds like s, ch, th, etc.

    After a 4 week post surgery wait came activation. After hooking me up to the computer, my audiologist tested each electrode in the implant. So the first sounds I heard through the implant were simple beep tones, much like the pure tones you hear in a hearing test. After a process to adjust their “volume” range and balance (so all the electrodes sounded the same loudness), she finally turned me on to the “real world.”

    I always knew what speech sounded like, it was just so muted, and upper frequencies missing. Even so, speech didn’t really sound like that through the implant. Initially, it was not much more than electronic beeps, that “seemed” like speech, meaning, the syllables matched with what I heard in my unimplanted ear. Everything was also monotone at first. the next couple of weeks, things started to sound more and more like speech. After a couple of months, things really sounded pretty normal.

    As I said, my experience wasn’t quite so dramatic as many of the activation videos you see posted. The most “dramatic” moment I had was probably a week and a half after activation. Up to then, everything was monotoned and voices pretty much sounded the same, but at this moment, I was talking with some co-workers, and all of a sudden, it was like a switch was flipped, and their voices each sounded different.

    That was probably my biggest “whoah” moment.

  • Heather

    David, that’s really cool. Thank you for sharing.