MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “I couldn’t hear the telephone ringing, I couldn’t hear clocks ticking Crickets. You know all the little things like that.”
For many like Tanya Martin who is hard of hearing, it’s those subtle sounds that matter most.
“I was always told that since I had a nerve deafness there was not anything they could do.”
Martin works in a warehouse office in southeast Memphis. She wasn’t always able to hear the noises around her until now.
Martin had a hearing aid before getting a cochlear implant crafted by Dr. Robert Yawn and a group of specialized professionals.
The two devices differ. Doctors say hearing aids take sounds and make them louder, but someone still may not be able to process those sounds. Cochlear implants can bypass that and directly stimulate the cochlear nerve which essentially transfers audio to the brain.
A cochlear implant actually sends signals electronically to the inner ear.
“Essentially it’s a cure for deafness,” said Yawn.
The implant has been offered to children in the Mid-South, but the service has been limited for adults.
Doctors at UT Methodist Hospital say their patients have had to travel to cities like Nashville and Birmingham to have the procedure, which could be a tedious task that requires several visits.
“Having that ability to be a part of a team that restores people back to their lives that reconnects them with their family, their friends, social structure, that is immensely rewarding for me,” said Yawn.
That reward is priceless.
It means being more independent, having the ability to share moments with loved ones. For Martin, that includes things like having conversations with her grandson.
“Now he’s talking so I can understand what he’s saying.”
She can even listen to her audio Bible at her desk, watch movies without subtitles and bask in the sounds that she encourages no one to take for granted.