The Man Who Could Hear His Eyes Moving

The human body is a marvelous yet weird structure.

Right now, you’re looking at a computer, perhaps feeling the breeze through an open window or tasting that freshly brewed coffee. You are reading these words while your brain processes about 100 million instructions per second, keeping the actions that keep you sensing, breathing, beating, living on track.

Now, can you imagine hearing some of those involuntary movements for every minute of every day for 10 years?

A Massachusetts man named Manny Pavao can, because he did.

Pavao, 44, could hear his heart beating loudly.

He could hear his eyes moving — he said it sounded like “rubbing sandpaper on a piece of wood back and forth.”

He could hear each footstep boom as he walked on pavement.

“Talking, it was as if I was talking through a speaker that was blown out,” Pavao said.

Doctors couldn’t explain what was going on with Manny for years, not until they recently determined that he was experiencing superior canal dehiscence syndrome, which was caused by a microscopic hole in the bone that separates the inner ear from the brain. According to Dr. Daniel Lee, who performed the four-hour long surgery on Sept. 11 to correct to the defect, it’s common that what Pavao had gets initially missed because it resembles many more ordinary conditions of the ear, such as allergies.

After the hole was filled with Pavao’s own tissue, he awoke from surgery to a beautiful sound, the sound of relative quiet.

“It wasn’t until the next day when I started walking and I just stopped in the middle of the corridor, and I think I broke down. I says, ‘I can’t hear my footsteps,'” Pavao said.

“After a decade of daily aggravation. I’m looking forward to the second phase of my life.”

The human body. It’s a strange deal, yo.

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