WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) -- Smartphones are part of our everyday lives. Imagine losing your hearing, only to have it restored thanks to your iPhone. It's not science fiction, instead it's reality for one woman.
Jess Toews was the first to receive the new technology that's only been around about a month. The wife and mother credits a new device for allowing her to hear the sounds of life again.
In most every school, volunteers play a vital role in the day to day. At Conkwright Elementary in Winchester, Kentucky, Toews is a standout volunteer, known not only for her great attitude, but for her socks.
"I believe that if your feet are having a party you can't have a bad day," said Toews.
Those socks and a simple positive phrase of, "Life is good if you make it good," have helped the wife and mother through some really tough years health-wise.
"I started having this pain in the side of my head right here and it wasn't a headache. I explained it to the doctor as charley horse in your brain," said Toews.
In 2009, doctors found two tumors growing on her auditory nerves. Toews had surgery to remove the larger tumor, but lost her hearing in that ear as a result. Her spunky attitude was on display before surgery donning those crazy socks. It was a testament of the positive attitude she was determined to have, despite not knowing what the future would hold.
"Life is hard, life is really, really, really hard, but it's not a reason to give up. Even if I was going to be deaf that's okay, just go on and deal with it," she said.
Chemotherapy helped shrink the tumor in her right ear, but once the chemo stopped, the tumor started to grow again.
Last summer, she lost all of her hearing.
"I started to learn how to read lips and we learned sign language" said Toews.
This school year, Toews is no longer living in silence. She can hear again thanks to a cochlear implant in her right ear and an auditory brain stem implant in her left. She will never forget the moment she could hear again.
"I can't explain what it means to hear again, there are so many opportunities that I think I missed," said Toews.
Now she has even more technology to help her hear. She is the first patient to receive the Nucleus 7. It's a little disk behind her ear that is a sound processor and works through her phone.
"It allows me to talk on the phone, like I don't even have to hold my phone to my ear, it is a Bluetooth directly into my implant," she said.
A simple app on her phone helps control the volume of what she hears. It also allows her to check the battery of her device so that she isn't caught out with a low battery and lose the ability to hear.
A game changer for someone who thought they might never hear again.
"Just hearing in general is amazing," she said.
Life has tried to knock the crazy socks right off Toews, but instead she is choosing to use this journey as a way to listen for what's next.
"God gave me this for a reason. I'm going to use it. So whatever I have to do, whatever the purpose of this is, bring it on," said Toews.
The device just hit the market on September 5th. Toews was fitted for the Nucleus 7 at Cincinnati Medical Center where she was the first to start using the streaming device with the brain stem and cochlear implant combo.
Cochlear implants are covered by medical insurance plans and as part of that in most cases, this new device is covered as well.
The Nucleus 7 is not yet compatible with Android devices.