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My Struggle With Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

My name is Tucker, I'm twenty years old. I'm also a musician, sound tech, and a student. Music is my life, sound is my medium. Ever since I can remember I have been playing music. I started on the violin when I was six years old, but I also play the mandolin, drums, a little piano and a little guitar. When I'm not playing music I'm listening to it. But lately my life has come to an abrupt halt.

Three months ago I developed tinnitus and hyperacusis due to hearing loss caused by over exposer to loud noise. When I first noticed the tinnitus I was very very scared. I was used to hearing tinnitus after a loud show, or when it was very quiet at night I could hear a very faint ringing. It made me very scared when I could here it during the day over all other sounds with nothing to cause it. I waited about two weeks before I told anybody about it, I guess I wanted to see if it would go away.

One night two weeks later, I couldn't get to sleep. I started to cry, I was afraid and upset. I was crying so loud that my dad, one room over, woke up. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him that for the past two weeks I had this loud ringing sound in my head. The very next day we set up an appointment to see the family doctor. He was the one that told me that it was tinnitus, and that there was very little that could be done. He suggested that I see and ENT and an audiologist. With a barrage of hearing tests the audiologist confirmed that hearing loss in the upper frequencies was the cause of my tinnitus and hyperacusis. The ENT didn't really help that much, he just told me to eat red grapes (apparently there is something in the skin that helps ear health), get back to my daily life and to avoid loud noises.

It has been a struggle every single day since I developed these conditions. This is completely new territory for me. There have been many times throughout the past couple of months where I have felt lost and hopeless, but I think I'm beginning to learn to accept it. For the first two months I thought that my music life was over. I was so depressed because it even hurt my ears just to play my violin. It hurts my ears if somebody laughs too loud. Things were looking pretty bad. The thought that this was going to be like this for the rest of my life weighed heavily on my mind. For awhile I avoided all music, and wore ear plugs a lot. I guess I thought that giving my hearing a rest would help the tinnitus go away, but it only made it more evident and worse.

I've talked to a few doctors now, and things are starting to look a bit better. It turns out that going to shows (with ear plugs!) will actually help me in two ways; it helps me feel better, and it helps me ignore the tinnitus. Before, I was so afraid never being able to go to shows, it is a relief to learn that I can still go to them and that they might actually help. I've also started to play music more often, but still not as often as I used to. I still don't feel completely comfortable in musical/noisy situations even with ear plugs in, but my situation is improving (although the tinnitus is just as loud)!

I find that what has helped me the most is hope. I lost hope a few times, but I kept on going, and I have found it again. I feel better as long as I'm being proactive about my situation. Even if I'm really not making any physical progress at least I'm trying to do something to better my situation. Also, I have found that sharing my story really helps, so I have started a blog,mylifewithtinnitus.blogspot.com, I think that I could help a few people!

Don't Lose Hope!
 

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