By: Gael Hannan
Potato (Po-TAY-toe, po-TAH-to) Tinnitus (TINN-uh-tiss, tin-EYE-tis)
People who have tinnitus don’t care how it’s pronounced, unless it was pronounced dead. As in ‘no longer exists’ – all the chirping, sizzling, bonging, ringing, chattering and any of the other 117 identified sounds of tinnitus would disappear, forever and ever, amen. Ah, the dream of every tinnitus sufferer – silence on demand.
I have to be honest. My bouts of tinnitus are sporadic; so far I’ve been spared the unrelenting onslaught of noise experienced by many people with chronic tinnitus. In fact, I rather enjoy one of my tinnitus noises – a lovely gong that rings softly and richly, off and on over the course of a few days. Then it just goes away for a couple of months, reappearing sometimes when I’m very tired, sometimes for no reason at all. And when it does return, I’m not particularly bothered by it.
But my other tinnitus sound is less welcome. It’s a hard clicking sound, difficult to describe. The best I can come up with is that it sounds like someone trying to cut very thick toenails with rather blunt clippers. Hard, loud clicks, one slowly after the other.
I know that tinnitus affects everyone differently, ranging from mild irritation to seriously self-destructive thoughts. Even grief, as in the case of a good friend of mine.
When I first met Adam at a training course for speechreading instructors, he had become deafened three years prior, losing the last shred of his hearing to NF2. He told the story of how, one morning a few weeks after becoming deaf, he woke up to the sound of the clock radio and the early morning announcer. He sat bolt upright, thrilled that some of his hearing had returned! While he could hear the announcer talking, however, he couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, so Adam reached over to turn up the volume.
The radio was off. It was 3am. The sound of the ‘announcer’ chattering was tinnitus, and he was still deaf.
Every once in a while, the radio announcer would reappear and chatter for a few minutes each night. Adam said he welcomed these visits because the voice, albeit an incomprehensible one, was the only voice that he could now hear.
When I heard that story, I cried, and I still mist up when I think about how his tinnitus tricked him for a brief moment into believing that he could hear again, and then cruelly returned Adam to the reality of his deafness.
But, there’s a happy ending to this story. Over ten years later, Adam is now a cochlear implant user, which I hope has helped to eliminate some of his tinnitus. With all the medical and technological advancements that are improving the quality of our lives, dare we hope that effective treatment for tinnitus is just around the corner?
To Find Out More
To find out more about Gael, please visit her website posted at the top of this article. We want thank Gael for taking the time to create this wonderful guest blog, and please, your feedback is encouraged.