Woman Had Super-Hearing And It Almost Drove Her Mad
Joshua Patton 9/29/2017
From heartbeats to creaking bones, our bodies are much noisier places than we might first imagine. But what if you could hear every little sound inside of your body amplified? In the case of one woman, it almost ruined her life.
In 2014, Rachel Pyne suddenly found she could hear the inside of her body. She would lie in bed and hear her heartbeat thudding in her chest. She would hear her feet make their impact on the ground as she walked. She could hear her muscles and bones move inside her body. In fact, she could hear little else.
No body movement happened without a deafening sound for her, and it began to affect her work and her enjoyment of life.
As Rachel described it:
"I could hear my eyes swoosh around as I moved them back and forth, like moving your hand in water."
She also suffered from headaches and a loss of balance. Like any of us would, Rachel sought medical help, but nine doctors were either stumped at the cause or simply thought it was all in her head. One doctor told her she would just have to live with it. Then she met Dr. Quinton Gopen and his team at UCLA Medical Center.
"What that means is the inner-ear, which is the organ that is in charge of balance and hearing, has an abnormal opening in the bone. And so you tend to hear internal sounds amplified, like your heartbeat, your own voice, and even things moving inside like your own body...."
When patients are told that they have a rare condition, crying is not an uncommon response. However, for Rachel, hers were tears of joy. She finally knew she wasn't just imagining it. Not only did Dr. Gopen and his team believe her, they knew how to fix her affliction.
Dr. Isaac Yang, Dr. Gopen's colleague, said that this procedure is now a "routine" one for them to perform. Using state-of-the-art imaging and surgical equipment, they can fill the extra opening in Rachel's inner-ear.
The surgeons cut a hole, about the size of a dime, into the patient's skull. Then they insert an instrument that fills the hole and effectively silences those internal noises driving patients like Rachel to their wits' end.
All told, the procedure takes about 90 minutes to two hours, and when the patient wakes up from surgery the relief is instantaneous.
Rachel was no different. She told GMA that when she awoke from surgery, she was advised to rest and recover. However, because the cacophony of body noises she suffered with for almost a year were gone, she wanted to leap from her bed and go out into the world.
Since the surgery, Rachel has resumed her career as a professional photographer and gone back to her hobbies and sports, like skiing, which she abandoned. She also said that she was almost glad that the other physicians turned her away because she so appreciates the work that Drs. Yang and Gopen did for her.
The primary rule of self-care is to "listen to your body" and react accordingly. However for Rachel that advice was far too literal, and now she's just happy to listen to what's going on outside of her skin.
You can watch the Good Morning America segment below.