(12/20/12) - How is your hearing? When most of us think about having a hearing
problem, we imagine not being able to hear, but what if you heard too much?
It happened to the woman you are about to meet - Kerry Aitken. And it made her life nearly unbearable. Imagine hearing your own heartbeat pounding inside your head, your own voice echoing. Imagine every sound you make, every sound you hear - amplified!
Kerry says that was her life. "My whole world just changed. I had no control over myself anymore."
For nine months, Terry suffered from dizziness, nausea and depression. Doctors did not know why. She was even told to see a psychiatrist.
"It was way too much for her to handle," her husband said.
"She was pretty beaten down. She had lost a lot of weight," says Kerry's neck surgeon, Dr. Quinton Gopen.
Gopen, of UCLA, pinpointed the problem inside Kerry's ear. "The problem that Kerry had was at the top of this balance chamber here, the superior canal, a little opening in the bone formed."
Dr. Gopen opened Kerry's skull, moved the brain to get to her ear and filled the two millimeter hole with a bone wax, lined the area with muscle, and covered it with a tiny piece of bone from her skull.
"People wake up in tears, not from pain, but from joy because the noise is gone immediately after surgery," Gopen says.
And that is exactly what happened with Kerry. "The first thing I did not hear was that wonderful heart beating. I was so happy."
Kerry's problem is called Superior Canal Dehiscence. The condition wasn't discovered until 1998 and it's just beginning to be taught to students in medical schools.
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