Imagine that you could actually hear your own body’s every sound -- hear your eyes moving, your bones creaking and your heart beating.
That’s what life was like for 28-year-old Rachel Pyne, a school photographer from Merrillville, Indiana.
Pyne had drastically enhanced hearing, allowing every tiny sound body her body made to be amplified.
“I could hear my neck muscles moving, like different things inside my body and when you tell people that, they are like, ‘you're crazy,’” Pyne told ABC News.
It happened all the time and became debilitating, and came with constant dizzy spells. Pyne stopped all her hobbies and only worked when she had to.
“So I would end up in bed usually before noon and just lay there. I couldn't watch TV; it was too loud. I couldn't listen to music,” she said, adding that she just had to lie around and listen to her heartbeat and “feel my brain spin.”
She sought answered from nine different doctors but none could offer her a diagnosis. When she found Dr. Quinton Gopen, that all changed.
Gopen, a surgeon at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, diagnosed Pyne with a rare condition: Superior semicircular canal dehiscence, or SCD.
“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 your body like your eyes moving,” Gopen told ABC News.
Pyne was thrilled to know that she could put a name to what had been happening to her.
“We got in the elevator and I was crying. I was so happy,” she said.
UCLA has discovered a minimally invasive surgery fix for the condition and it was performed on Pyne twice. The first surgery was done last November, on Pyne’s left ear, and then again in May, on her right ear.
In each surgery, doctors plugged the tiny hole in Pyne’s inner ear through a dime-sized incision in her skull.
For many patients, the results are immediate.
“We do this surgery in about ninety minutes and they wake up and they say, ‘My symptoms are gone,” said Dr. Isaac Yang, the neurosurgeon who also operated on Pyne, making the small opening in her skull.
That’s exactly what happened after Pyne’s surgeries.
“When I woke up from surgery I knew right off the bat that I was better and I had no more dizziness and I was talking to the nurse right when I woke up and I was ready to get up and go somewhere,” said Pyne, whose hearing is now normal.
According to Gopen, only around one in half-a-million people have SCD.
"It was diagnosed relatively recently, about 15 years ago," he said. "The majority of people that we see that have this condition, there's no known cause or event that they did that created this opening."
"It just happens," Gopen said.