Living with tinnitus; will the ringing ever stop?

I'm revisiting a subject I wrote about on May 17, 2004 in the Chicago Tribune because the Wall Street Journal ran an excellent article on tinnitus--the irrepressible noise that bedevils some 50 million Americans--driving some of them nuts.

This is my own story about tinnitus, which I'm posting because the otherwise fine Journal article mentions someone who had surgery.

Don't do it. Here's why:


Fifty million Americans have it, and it drives 12 million batty enough to seek medical help. Some who have it--tinnitus--can't sleep, hold a job, or keep their families together. Some go goofy and a few kill themselves. But for Americans who don't have it, it is considered a minor annoyance that you should "just get over."

It's as if the ringing, clicking, banging, chirping or whistling is just an itch that can be scratched. Scratching does no good. You can't stop it. Always, it disrupts concentration, robs you of the joy of ever "hearing" silence again, reminds you of your subjugation.

In good times, it brings on the bad. In bad times, it worsens the bad. It's associated with such things as hearing loss and exposure to loud noises. Stress worsens it, and in a destructive spiral, tinnitus aggravates stress. But nobody has a cure, because nobody knows what causes it.

This being the first Tinnitus Awareness Week, it seems appropriate to note how

tinnitus-sound.jpg

American Tinnitus Association

millions of people at this moment are resorting to a vast array of therapies, gizmos, medications and potions. Diversionary sounds produced by hearing aid-like devices, miniature water fountains, the radio tuned to quiet static, therapy or behavior modification. Relief is reported by some, others not.

When it got bad enough for me, I finally went to an ear doctor who told me, “Nothing can be done.” He said he had it himself, which is why he became a specialist. Only to find out that “you’ve just got to learn to live with it.” Cruel and insensitive? I thought so. I continued to focus more and more on it, nearly becoming a slave to the ringing—mine sounds like an idling jet engine while the plane taxis to the gate.

So, I sought out the best, who promised that he could do something. An MRI showed that a blood vessel was impinging on my auditory nerve, creating a pulsating rhythm to the ringing. Go into the skull behind the left ear and insert a little plastic doodad to separate them. Risky, but I agreed. Anything, to help.

I nearly died, literally, twice. First, the operation created a subdural hematoma, requiring another, immediate four-hour surgery, involving removal of the left side of my skull. Two weeks later, I was rushed back to ICU after developing a blazing fever (kind never determined) and grueling pain. I forgot my wife’s name and, when I needed it most, the Lord’s Prayer. Worse, I put my family through an indescribable ordeal, spending days in the surgical, emergency and ICU waiting rooms, waiting for my foolishness to kill me.

To this day, I cannot apologize enough for what I did to them. As for me? I lost hearing in my left ear. But being deaf in that ear doesn’t mean I hear nothing. The ringing continues as intense as ever. I’m not looking for sympathy, only for wider public understanding that millions of people are fighting this dreadful condition. They feel isolated and without help. They can find some at the Portland, Ore.-based American Tinnitus Association. Their publications and Web site (www.ata.org) are packed with encouragement, suggested remedies, research news and promises that something can be done to help.

Its fight on behalf of 50 million Americans is not heralded enough beyond tinnitus sufferers. Notably by groups and agencies that fund research. After all, no Nobel Prizes are given out for conquering an “annoyance.”

Actually, this column is written more for my fellow sufferers, who have tried everything possible and feel hopeless. The mind is a wonderful thing, and is probably the most important tool available for fighting tinnitus. Now, five years after my operation, my ringing doesn’t bother me as much, although it is as loud and persistent as ever. It only intrudes into my consciousness a few times a day, typically at a loud event.

Amazingly, my mind has somehow found a way to put it out of my mind. Kind of like breathing: You don’t notice you’re doing it unless someone mentions it. I no longer use gizmos and water fountains. No longer try behavior modification. No longer focus on the latest “advances.” And I’ve returned to the doctor who gave me the best advice: “Get used to it.” It can happen.

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Filed under: Health, Lifestyle

Tags: health, tinnitus

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  • Hi. My name is Pete. I have tinnitus.

  • fb_avatar

    ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS WITH HIS HERB I WAS CURED FROM A TERRIBLE TINNITUS.
    . Is my pleasure to comment on this site and i thank the admin of this site for his/her great work so far. I really don’t know how to thank DR WILLIAMS for helping me get cured for over 20 year of suffering from a terrible tinnitus, my tinnitus started when i turns 10 we all thought is going to end one day but even get worse as days went by,i have tried all western drugs prescribed by doctors but to no avail i lost total concentration, even at night i screams even more because the sounds become louder because everywhere is quiet. i came across DR WILLIAMS contact through a headline news on internet about how DR WILLIAMS have help so many people to get cured of tinnitus and so many other with similar body problem ,i contacted him and he told me how to get his herb,few day later he sent me the herbal portion which i take every morning for 21 days, and his medicine was able to restore me back to normal and now am very okay without any side effects whatsoever If you have Tinnitus, you can contact him on his email address drwilliams098765@gmail.com for help

  • fb_avatar

    ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS FOR THE GREAT DEED HE HAVE DON FOR MY DAUGHTER?
    My daughter suffered from a terrible tinnitus for more than 23 years which started after she turned 5 we all thought it will end but got even worse as days went by. We tried all several treatments and therapy prescribed by various doctors we met but to no avail, she lost total concentration and screamed most times. She usually tells me she hears hissing and ringing noises. This were steady noise that disrupted her entire life, even at night she screams even more because the sounds become louder because everywhere is quiet and she slept less because of this.It was during a casual conversation with a friend that i learned about dr Williams herbal medicine I was able to contact him on his email address. and give him all the necessary information that he needed,few day later he sent me the herbal portion and his medicine was able to restore her back to normal and she is very okay now without any side effects whatsoever. If you have Tinnitus, do not hesitate to contact him on drwilliams098765@gmail.com for advice and for his product. I hope this also helps someone out there.

  • CURE TO TINNITUS,. One night in October last two year, when I lay down to sleep, I heard this high pitched noise coming from my left ear.I did not pay that much attention and went to sleep. The following morning, it was gone. Then again, after one month since the first experience it came back, and this time it came to stay. It was a pretty high pitched noise, and only in my left ear. After 2 days, I went to see an ENT. He said that my left ear was full of wax and need to be cleaned. Actually he did a good job by cleaning both my ears but some hardly stuck wax was still in my left ear. He gave me ear drops. I went home and used ear drops as per his instructions. After two weeks, I revisited him again. He told me that my ears were clean and not to worry about Tinnitus, and reassured to me that it would go away after 2~ 3 week time. The Tinnitus was always there 24/7. In the 4th week I started to panic and then anxiety, depression and fear kicked in and started to have sleepless nights. I was sleepless for 3 straight nights. My wife was also started to worry about me but there was nothing she could do to help me.Then, I started to google about Tinnitus. I read about how Dr john product cure a woman who had tinnitus.i email dr john and i get the product which i use my tinnitus is cure. THANKS TO DR JOHN for more information email him on johnewoig18@gmail.com

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