SAN ANTONIO -- An ear-splitting noise filled a small office at Miracle Ear in Kerrville, as a tiny hearing-aid chirped and screeched its way to life.
Technician Karla Muller eyed audio levels on a computer screen as she calibrated the tiny instrument.
Carmen Baldwin didn’t seem to hear a thing.
The 84-year-old grandmother hasn’t heard much in the past decade.
“When did my hearing start to go? After I had open heart surgery,” said Carmen. “They said it was because of the distress because I lost my husband three months before I had to have emergency surgery.”
Carmen’s husband, a rancher, died of an aneurysm 10 years ago. Then, a year later, Carmen’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer, a battle she lost this past July.
Carmen’s only solace came in the form of two adopted grandchildren with special needs, who she raised on a fixed income while her daughter battled and eventually died of cancer.
“It was horrible,” said Carmen. “It was very very very very bad.”
Muller said she heard Carmen’s story when she walked into her office seeking an application for a free hearing aid through the Miracle Ear Foundation, a philanthropic wing of the company that serves those who can’t afford treatment.
She said she forwarded her application up the chain immediately.
“When she walked out of my office, I just started crying,” Muller said.
Now, thanks to the foundation, Carmen is now able to hear properly for the first time since that open heart surgery.
“Just to see that smile on their face, it’s something that you have with you in your heart,” Muller said.
Now Carmen said she wants nothing more than to hear the wind, the rain and her grandkids' voices once again.
"Have you ever heard or paid attention to the wind blowing?” said Carmen. “I haven't heard these noises in years."
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