Technology offers great opportunities

Published 9:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2017

Technological advances have changed the course of human society for centuries.

These advances range from personal care, agriculture and food supply, transportation, communication and health care.

Arguably, some technology’s impact on society can be questionable — like the addiction to cell phones, texting and internet browsing’s effect on our social skills and personal interactions.

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However, there is no doubt that much of the technology available to us today has improved and simplified our day-to-day lives in ways we often take for granted.

For one Clark County mother, advanced technology has changed her life in a way she certainly won’t take for granted. For the first time in eight years, Jess Toews can hear, thanks to new advancements in hearing technology.

Jess was diagnosed almost a decade ago with type 2 neurofibromatosis, a condition where tumors grow at her nerve ends.

Since 2009, two huge tumors grew on her auditory nerves, first on her left and then her right. Surgery removed the tumor, which was pressing on her brain stem, and her hearing, on her left side.

As time passed, her hearing in her right ear continued to weaken. Medical trials and chemotherapy helped, but the right tumor kept growing and she lost the rest of her hearing.

Today, Jess is hearing in both ears after receiving a cochlear implant for her right ear in February and an auditory brain stem implant in August for her left.

With those pieces of medical technology, Jess can hear her children’s voices once again and hear the laughter of the students she volunteers with at a local school. She can take in the sounds of the things hearing individuals take for granted — the noises of a baseball game, the ticking of her car’s turn signal and the bocking of her backyard chickens.

She summed it up beautifully when she simply stated, “I’ll say life is a lot better when you can hear.”

While this has been a life-changing experience for Jess, her story can also serve as a powerful reminder to not take the seemingly small things in life for granted, whether that be hearing or the great benefits technology can offer us.

While it has its downfalls, technology has benefitted our culture in many ways.

We can text our friends 24/7, email our boss at all hours of the day, make a single cup of coffee in less than 5 minutes, hear the constant beep of a reminder to buckle our seat belts, look up a recipe or check our bank account in the middle of the grocery store or voice-to-text that memo we need to write on the way to the office.

Thanks to technology, people can hear again, people can walk again, hearts can beat on rhythm again. The list goes on.

As Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, said: “What new technology does is create new opportunities.”