Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tuesday 24th Jan

I had a disturbed night's sleep on monday. The tinnitus calmed down once things were quite but it was still enough to keep me awake once I woke up during the night. When most people experience tinnitus from noise damage it's usually a single high pitched note that drives them slowly mad unless they learn to cope with it and ignore it. Tinnitus from SSHL is a different sort of thing. It appears to be the brain's effort to cope with the sudden lack of sensory input from the damaged ear. Guardian journalist, Nick Coleman described it perfectly in a piece he wrote about his own SSHL. I've taken the liberty of quoting him here.. "I emerged from hospital a week later, profoundly deaf in one ear, my brain refusing to let my ear go quietly. Its reaction is to fill my head with noise. Imagine the sound of pressurised air escaping from a central heating valve. That's the sound that fills the right hemisphere of my head round the clock. Concealed within that hissy cloud there's another layer of far subtler sounds. In the dead of night, when my wife is breathing silently and there is no other sound going in my good ear, I can hear beneath the pfffff a strange polyphony of whistles and cries, like a drowning choir, accompanied by a tiny monkey playing a teeny pipe organ. It can be quite soothing. But if my wife suddenly exhales through her nose, or rustles the duvet by moving her head slightly, then all hell breaks loose. I hear gasping cats and boiling kettles. When two or more voices are joined together in amiable conversation, I hear trains entering underground stations. Right now, sitting at my computer in an otherwise silent house, the minuscule hum of the machine is at a pitch somewhere between the central-heating pffff and the cat's gasp. This is not conventional tinnitus, but entirely reactive to input in the good ear. It is the auditory equivalent of the illusion experienced by amputees - the feeling that the missing limb is still attached. My brain is generating sound to compensate for the lack of auditory activity in my ear." I have to say that his SSHL sounds much worse than mine, at least I don't have the accompanying loss of balance and nausea. Not wishing to give up on getting treatment I decided pay for private medical treatment. After doing some research I settled on trying to get an appointment with a ENT consultant based in Oxford, reputed to be the best around. I called his secretary and was told the next available emergency appointment was next Monday. A week? For an emergency? I booked it amyway and wrote him an email describing my situation, the fact that I was a professional musician, how my hearing suddenly failed, and would he consider seeing me sooner. Another day wasted. I was kicking myself that I hadn't seen a doctor in Thailand.

1 comment:

  1. That really is awful, having 'regular' tinnitus myself, I know how disconcerting that can be (waking up in the middle of the night, wondering: did the noise become louder? Will I loose ALL hearing? As a music-lover I've had many sleepless nights), You form of tinnitus sound so much more worrying.

    Don't give up hope! And don't blame yourself, however much you'd want to, you cannot change the past