From darkness into light
Tinnitus is not an easy condition to live with when it is severe. So it always pleases me to hear when someone habituates and is able to put the passed behind them and look forwards to a brighter future. A forum member contacted me recently to express just that and has agreed for me to include some of his comments although his name has been changed. Anyone having difficulty habituating I hope they will find this post helpful.
Last year Marcus was in a distressed state and convinced he would never see light again at the end of the tunnel. He works as an electrician and while up a ladder one afternoon, suddenly heard a loud ringing coming from a fire alarm that was on a nearby wall. He didn’t pay it much attention and wasn’t concerned about his hearing as he believed it would soon stop. He continued working but this proved not to be a good idea as the alarm continued for another twenty minutes. When it finally stopped and there was complete silence he then noticed ringing in his ears. Over the following days and weeks it gradually became louder and more intrusive.
I remember his out pouring and condemning himself in this forum as if it were yesterday. He couldn’t believe he had done such a thing. Staying in that vicinity with no hearing protection and not coming down off that ladder had resulted in his whole life being turned upside down. With the benefit of hindsight one is often able to see mistakes that could have been easily avoided if they only knew. In his own words life as he once knew it was completely over. Married with two young children he enjoyed regularly going out with the family but all that came to an abrupt end.
I and other forum members tried to make Marcus look at the positive things in his life and not to give up hope but little of this was having any impact. The walls of negativity that he had built up to surround himself were just too great and it seemed no amount of good advice was able to get through.
His symptoms will be familiar to those that have suffered noise trauma to their auditory system. Intrusive tinnitus with hyperacusis, that can vary considerably especially in the early onset of the conditions. I understood his distress at not being able to enjoy listening to music even as a form of distraction from the noise. Everything sounded distorted to him as if it is coming out of a broken speaker and his ears would hurt when certain sounds were heard.
His appointment at ENT was some time away which is often the case when tinnitus is not accompanied by dizziness, balance problems and impaired hearing or continuous pain in the ears.
Contrary to what some believe, the best treatment for tinnitus in the early stages and when there are no additional symptoms, as mentioned above is to leave it alone. The ears and auditory system are very delicate and often right themselves when left alone. Many people habituate to tinnitus within the first six months sometimes a little longer and the condition has been known to go away completely.
Marcus had taken time of work, as he just wasn’t in a good place and couldn’t function properly. One good thing is that he was under the care of his GP and taking medication to help cope with his moods. Tinnitus can be such an emotional roller coaster in the early days so often no two days are the same. An antidepressant often helps a person from becoming too down so acts as a safety net when those low points arrive.
Marcus became a frequent visitor to this forum and I believe it helped him, although his outlook on recovery was quite bleak and negative.
Perhaps knowing there were people around him in this virtual world of cyberspace, gave him the support and sanctuary that he need to vent his frustrations which at times I believe were overwhelming. I hadn’t seen him for quite a while but got an acknowledgement from him recently by private messenger. Please find it below. I have omitted my comments.
It changes a lot over time doesn't it. Not just one’s perception of it but the tone itself.
For me it ranges from a jet engine noise to hum, I used to hear it all the time but now I only hear it in silence.
Just past the 1 year mark for me. Feeling much better now. It sure does take time.
How's things with you? I really appreciate the help and advice you have offered to me over this time and the help from other people in the forum.
It's a terrible condition. I did go too see Guns n Roses last weekend at Slane castle. Used professional ear plugs, was a great show and no negative consequences apart from a crazy two day hangover lol
The fact the concert was outdoors made it possible, it still peeked at over 115db at times.
I still haven’t been seen at ent yet, did bother chasing up the appointment. No point really. I will take your advice and chase up ent and see if I can get an appointment. Just to do the tests.
Yes, I'm much much better now, I was in a very dark place. It was a terrible time. Things have improved, the distortion in music has gone and things sound normal again. I can even setup an eq system hear the different frequencies, when I first suffered this I couldn't hear bass, everything sounded flat, really was a bad time, I'm surprised I survived it to be honest.
I now have a new appreciation for sound and music. I just wish I understood this before. I still have slight balance issues but mostly I am happy my hearing has improved, It is very difficult too accept when it happens as I am sure you know.
I will always use hearing protection at loud events, concerts etc. The guns n roses concert felt fine with my pro plugs in and I noticed many others using plugs too. Good to see.
I’m back at work and able to spend time with my family. Thanks Michael for your advice (even at those times when I didn't believe it)