In 2004, the American musician Ryan Adams fell off the stage into the orchestra pit at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre, breaking his wrist. At least it was obvious to his fans why he had to cancel that tour. What was not widely known was that he had also been struggling with tinnitus, vertigo and other ear complaints from as far back as 2000. For Ryan Adams, gigs had generally become increasingly difficult.
â€œWhat I actually misunderstood as stage fright was a series of different things that were going wrong with my body,â€ Ryan Adams says. â€œI love to be on stage and to play but at the same time I would be up there and all of a sudden I would be incredibly uncomfortable.â€
Eventually Adams was diagnosed as suffering from Ménière's Disease, a degenerative illness which attacks the inner ear. Symptoms include hearing loss, balance problems, nausea and vertigo.
Didn't play a note for a year
Ryan Adams took a year off to cope with the serious ear condition. He didn't play a note of music for a year while he sought treatment to curb the decline in his condition. He has now returned and says that he just needs to be careful about how he handles the demand for him to perform.
I haven't had a Ménière's episode in a while but I'm definitely doing as much stuff as humanly possible on the line of acceptability." Ryan Adams tells. Therapy has also taught him to cope with his tinnitus.
“I've already lost hearing but I still have 50 or 60% in my left ear, which is not bad. I don't know that I think about it that way. I just think about working with what I got," he says.