Living with Tinnitus

3670808847_cde87ed326_oI’ve had tinnitus for over a year now. Yet my tinnitus no longer destroys or controls my life.

I woke up to what I thought was a fridge whirring in my head back in January 2015. I asked my husband if he could hear what I was hearing, but he couldn’t at all. That was when I knew something was wrong.

After numerous trips to ENT specialists, far too many doctor appointments and a brain MRI scan, it was confirmed I had tinnitus. Nothing more, nothing less.

No hearing loss. In fact, I have ridiculously good hearing.

I was also diagnosed with hypercusis which is basically a hypersensitivity to sounds. Noises others wouldn’t be bothered by.

As for the tinnitus, at first, it was all-encompassing, a constant ringing, screeching or whooshing sound.

Sometimes it’d be more prominent in my right ear, sometimes the left.

Sometimes it would buzz, sometimes it would hiss. Other times, it’d change pitch, then other times sound like crickets.

It was unpredictable. I had no control whatsoever.

I’d lie awake for hours, listening to the incessant whooshing noises penetrate my eardrums. The sound was inescapable.

Even when I was talking to friends or family, or in a meeting with my boss, it was there in the background.

I won’t bore you with any more details, as I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the ordeal, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

However, I will say that I experienced the lowest of the lows. So much so that, at one time, my thoughts became so bad, I had to resort to medication to keep me sane. And strong pills to get me to sleep at night.

In any case, I fought the battle. I saw all the doctors, read gazillions of articles, underwent acupuncture, white noise therapy, had countless tests, tried a variety of prescription medications and over the counter remedies… you name it, I did it. And nothing worked.

I learned all about the inner ear and studied all the theories about tinnitus cures that I could find. I was on an absolute mission to find a cure and I wasn’t going to give up in a hurry… or so I thought.

Ironically, it was the ‘giving up’ that actually saved me and brought a sense of sanity back into my life. It began when I recognised that it was the fight that was crushing me, not the tinnitus. The more I tried to wrestle with it, the more I thought about the humming/ringing/whooshing noises.

In the end, I surrendered and thought, “Sod it! I’m not going to let my tinnitus run my life. I need to get it back.”

That said, it was by no means a fast journey. Neither was it an easy one. But it eventually became a successful journey.

Yes, I still have tinnitus – it isn’t anywhere near as noisy as it used to be – but it doesn’t trouble me to anywhere near the same degree as it did. In fact, the majority of the time, I’m not overly aware of it.

I’m defeating tinnitus, and so can you!

So, What’s the Point in Telling You This?

The point in this post is not because I want you to feel sorry for me. I wrote this post because I think I can help.

I understand that most of you will not care less for what I have to say. And I understand that’s probably down to your ceaseless search for immediate relief.

But I’m hopeful I can persuade some of you to follow my lead. What worked for me may not work for you and I understand that. On the other hand, what do you have to lose?

From a different standpoint, why are you reading this? Are you reading this because you have tinnitus? I see many of you nodding. But hold on just a sec.

Let me ask another question; are you here because of the way in which you respond to tinnitus? Aha! Now I see some re-thinking.

Ultimately, tinnitus is about the direction of your journey rather than your journey.

When I first got tinnitus, I turned to the web for all the answers. There were a few helpful sites, but many were money-making and scamming, imploring you to buy their products claiming “the ringing will stop.” Yeah, right.

I’ll put my hands up and admit that in doing these searches, this enhanced my suffering and ability to cope with the disease.  My point? By Googling and researching more, you’re amplifying the problem.

What Not to Do

Here are some things I’ve learned (mostly the hard way) that make things worse…

  • Don’t wear earplugs (except for when you’re at gig/festival listening to loud music)
  • Don’t measure the frequency of your tinnitus using those stupid apps or assess it all the time. This’ll only make you more agitated. (I know it’s so hard to “not” think about something!)
  • Don’t fret about what you eat or do as a trigger. Granted, there are certain foods, drinks or medications that can cause tinnitus, but this is probably not why you have it
  • Don’t search on the internet about “cures” etc. Most sites are rip-offs. Believe me, I know.
  • Don’t over-indulge in alcohol or tranquillisers as coping mechanisms. While either may briefly be a godsend and chill you out enough that you forget the noise, it will be back, and perhaps noisier.

Do…

  • Get on a good multivitamin
  • Take zinc picolinate 22mg – it’s the best and most absorbable form of zinc
  • Take gingko biloba – I get mine from Holland and Barrett
  • Take a good fish oil supplement (the liquid form of Omega-3 is good)
  • Get a smoothie blender (I have the NutriBullet but any food blender will do) and have a fruit and veg smoothie a few mornings a week. I swear by these smoothies – they’re amazing! (In mine, I use a handful of spinach/kale, 1 carrot, 1 banana, 1 inch of chopped ginger, 2 teaspoons of spirulina, 3 teaspoons of linseeds/pumpkin seeds, 10 blueberries and half an apple
  • Take the odd sleeping tablet if you need to when your tinnitus gets really bad
  • See a counsellor – there’s absolutely no shame in that whatsoever. There are so many clinics dedicated to tinnitus, namely The National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, Grays Inn Road, London
  • Meditate – get one of the free apps and spend 10 minutes a day, everyday, switching off. It helps – trust me

But I don’t let it control my life anymore. And nor should you.

Thanks for reading,

Susie x

Image: Courtesy of Coty Schwabe, Flickr taken on 29th June 2009

 

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