A little information about Tinnitus. The definition from Merriam Webster Dictionary is: “a sensation of noise (as a ringing or roaring) that is caused by a bodily condition (as a disturbance of the auditory nerve or wax in the ear) and typically is of the subjective form which can only be heard by the one affected“
So, it turns out I have a major ear infection, have been running a fever likely for the last 4 or 5 days. Thursday morning at work, as I was trying to get the Kids CD stuff together, I started to hear a massive roaring whine. I’d liken it to having your face duct taped to a tornado siren. The sound levels in my head were so great that it felt like my eyes were vibrating and I started having vertigo. I was walking around, and trying to figure out if I was walking straight or not. I could not tell. I did this for 4 hours until it was obvious it wouldn’t let up. I started to feel like I was walking on a hilly treadmill and everytime I sat down the world was spinning clockwise.
Now, I’ll add here that I suffer tinnitus all the time. At any given moment of the day in my life (ever since I was 5 years old) my ears what made some manner of noise. Funny how that is.. I really have no idea what “silence” is. I understand the concept: the absence of noise, but I cannot experience it. I’ve adapted to it.
Tinnitus is my background music. It’s like my life is a movie and a band follows me around all the time with different theme music. I have my own theme music for whatever mood I’m in… with the music usually cribbed from some movie I’ve seen in the past. Like when I’m thinking about the future, I hear Luke Skywalker’s theme in my ears. So tiiExcept for the last 2 (going on 3) days, my ears have roared like nothing else. In any case, ringing in my ears is usually “nothing really”.
I admit: the intensity of the tinnitus for the last few days has been scaring me. I’m able to keep the “volume” down by taking off my hearing aids and hearing nothing at all except normal tinnitus activity. With them off about 2 hours, the howling goes away and the vertigo effect would lessen and I could walk around almost normally. I’ve spent most of the last 36 hours with my hearing aids off except for having them on at the Doctor’s office and on the drive home from my parents house. I’ll admit this is the longest I’ve gone without hearing aids in a very long time. I’m experiencing a state of “true deaf”, and quite frankly, it scares me. I’m thinking to myself “So this is what it will be like” because I still (usually in the back of my head, like a tiny whisper, but the last few days it’s been much more prominent) am afraid that one day I’ll wake up and not be able to hear anything.
If I lost my hearing, could I keep my job? Could I keep my sanity? Could I keep my friends? Could I learn sign language? Could I be happy? Would my life end?
I stopped at my parents house. My Dad is taking my Mazda in for an oil change. So I have his truck (96 Ford F-150 4×4) for the evening. They didn’t want me to drive it without wearing my hearing aids. So, my parents, who’ve lived with a mostly deaf child for 37 years, freaked out at the idea of letting said mostly deaf child drive 10 miles without his hearing aids on. When I lose my hearing, I suppose I can assume the whole world will treat me differently. Am I ready for that? Is it even POSSIBLE to be ready for that?
This nagging fear has always been there. For some reason, I have this very clear, very concrete memory of a doctor stating “Chances are, he’ll be completely deaf by the time he’s 40”. Well… that’s 2 years and 8 months from now.