By Matt Dellinger
(CNN) — A 44-year-old man in Dartmouth, Massachusetts can finally hear normally after a decade of being tormented by the sounds of his own body.
For 10 years, Manny Pavao was afflicted with superior canal dehiscence syndrome, caused by a tiny hole in the bone that separates the inner ear from the brain.
All day, Pavao would hear everything from the beating of his own heart to the movement of his eyes, which he describes to CNN affiliate WCVB as a grating sound, like “rubbing sandpaper on a piece of wood back and forth.”
Pavao tells the station his own voice was amplified, like he “was talking through a speaker that was blown out.”
Superior canal dehiscnece is such a rare condition that it is commonly missed in diagnosis because of similarities to other ailments.
Dr. Daniel Lee of Massachusetts Eye and Ear tells WCVB it often “resembles many common conditions of the ear like allergies or Eustachian tube dysfunction.”
While watching the local news, Pavao’s wife saw a story about a woman who was cured of a similar condition.
“It was hope. Something he had not had in all those years and it was amazing,” Linda Pavao said.
During a four-hour procedure Lee repaired the microscopic hole and others in the bone with Pavao’s own tissue.
After the surgery Pavao said he was shocked that he had been cured and said he became emotional after he couldn’t hear the sound of his own footsteps.
After a decade of daily aggravation, Pavao said, “I’m looking forward to the second phase of my life.”