Friday, April 10, 2015

The Joys of Hearing Loss plus Tinnitus

This morning, no matter what I have been doing, I am aware of three sounds in my ears: unfortunately. It doesn't matter whether I've been breakfasting, waiting at the bus stop with the kids, sitting at the computer, or showering. I continue to hear all three noises.

It's not just this morning, of course; these irritating noises are always present to varying degrees.

There is a continual sort of chirping in my right ear. I have said 'chirping' for want of a better word, but it's much like listening to a field of crickets at night. At this moment, there is also a louder rumbling in that same right ear: kind of like a motor running at a constant pitch. Said motor used to run in my left ear but now has mostly switched to the right side, although it alternates back to the left periodically, mostly when I am in bed. I often wake up with the rumbling in the left ear, but it soon switches back to the right.

The third sound is now constant in my left ear. This one is kind of a dull, bass roar, something like a busy highway or speedway in the distance. Unlike the other two sounds, it constantly changes it pitch or volume (hard for me to tell which). This is where the highway/speedway comparison is apt for cars would change their volume as they vary their distance to the listener.

I have had tinnitus for years now although I have only been aware of it for the past two or three. You see, for a long time I thought I was hearing environmental noises, for it was like a fan or some such running in the background and not too loudly at that. At that time it was just or mainly the single fan or motor noise that I heard, so I truly thought I was picking up something real.

Anyway, I have three sounds now, the most recent being the speedway. And, of course, the others have been getting louder. Sometimes, I am very conscious of the noises, and, sometimes, my brain pushes them into the background — thankfully. They're always there, but when my mind gets preoccupied, I may not notice them.

Then, there is the hearing loss, which actually came first, even though I am recounting it second here. I won't go into it in detail, except to say that I first noticed the beginnings of loss at about the age of 40, and by the age of 50, I was beginning to live with hearing aids. I am now on my fourth pair, although the first wasn't a pair but just a single aid in the worse ear.

Here's the thing. I have learned that hearing loss isn't just a volume thing but also a sensitivity thing. I will miss a lot of words even though they are at the same volume as the ones that I hear.

How you speak to someone with hearing loss is important. As long as the individual has hearing aids, your volume is likely to be sufficient for the most part, although if you are a very soft talker that may not be true for you. What is most helpful is separating your words. If a speaker enunciates clearly and leaves a little space between words, the impaired person is apt to catch almost all of what you say.

I find that hearing loss makes television a bit of a hit and miss sort of thing. I generally catch enough of the dialogue to keep the main thread, but I often miss little details. I then must decide if they seem important to the narrative. If I deem that they might be important, I am likely to ask Sue for clarification. I always feel a little better when she also misses something as it reveals that the flaw was in the production and not the receptor because she has very keen hearing.

When music is playing, the lyrics are pretty much a mystery to me. This is especially true of the more modern forms, which often rely heavily on the lyrics. That leaves me listening to the tune or melody, which is not strong in much modern music — in my opinion, of course.

I don't imagine that the tinnitus noises in my ears helps in the task of being able to discriminate words even though I may not be much aware of the noise when I am focusing on listening.

I hope this helps. Those of us with hearing loss aren't stupid although we can appear to be when speakers have to repeat things, and we, ourselves, certainly begin to feel both stupid and frustrated. The speaker can help greatly by enunciating clearly.

Addendum: As I was writing this, Sue came home, made toast, and climbed upstairs: all unbeknownst to me. Because I had just showered and was alone, I hadn't put my hearing aids back in and was totally unaware of her rambling about the house until she appeared in my doorway.

FYI: I will be absent from Blogdom for a few days.


Linda Kay said...

Great post, John. My hubby also has hearing loss and tinnitus, and is really plagued when in a large group with all the exterior noise around him. I try to make sure I'm standing in front of him when I talk to him. It's really a difficult thing, so my heart goes out to you, my friend.

Tabor said...

My dad had tinnitus as he worked construction and the jackhammers and saws and all ruined his hearing. He withdrew from life and I did not notice until I was much older. When I would call he always passed the phone to my mother. I regret that I did not live nearer.

TexWisGirl said...

an honest and helpful post. i often wonder if i'm beginning to get tinnitus as i listen to humming sounds or a 'fan' type sound a lot around here, but like you, i chalk it up to some gadget / appliance running.

Lorna Cunningham-Rushton said...

I can imagine how annoying that can be. I still have Tommy Dorsey or a medeival monk or sometimes a military band playing in the background of my head, but it's not tinnitus...something neurological they tell me. I'm getting used to it though.

I always watch TV with closed captioning and now I can see it at South Keys for some movies; I haven't actually done that yet as we don't seem able to squeeze movies into our schedule. I used to think that my retirement would centre around movies and books. Like yours, it centres around family and for the most part, the family is patient with my saying things like "Did you just ask me if I wanted custard with my hotdog?"

Ginger said...

A good description and helpful post. I have noticed that my mom's personality comes right back and she enjoys life so much more with her hearing aids in. Unfortunately with her Alzheimer's, she is always misplacing said hearing aids, and we have to go hunting. I feel triumphant when I find even one. Just one makes such a difference in her affect.

Mage said...

Thanks for writing about this. I lose words at the movies too. It makes dining out an unexpected adventure, and it often leaves me feeling like a dunce when I turn to G and ask, one more time, "What did they say?"

Have a good trip. :)

Mara said...

Is there a possibility to watch television with subtitles where you are? It might not be the best while watching a live programme, but a film or series could benefit you greatly!

Gail Dixon said...

Oh, I was hoping you had some fix for tinnitus. I have been suffering with it for some time now. It's more like crickets, though I used to think I was hearing electronic noises. It's really quite annoying and I feel for you. Enjoy your break from blogdom.

Pearl said...

enunciate. yes. mom's partly deaf and all she catches sometimes is body language and tone. it doesn't matter if I say the right words because the body is what is heard.

Anonymous said...

Admin please help me pass this on.
I have lived a very terrified life the past 12 years due to the steady distraction caused by tinnitus. I hear a steady, offensive and unending buzzing sound on my left ear, which made me deaf. I worked in a factory for 28 years and i was really much exposed to loud noise, since i retired 15 years ago i have been faced with this, infact it made me deaf. I was fortunate enough to get a medicine from Dr. Joseph that put a final stop to the sound and it has never returned since then. Most doctors might tell you there is no cure to tinnitus but as a survivor of this i will tell you it is curable. To get the medicine for yourself just reach him personally on also for advise and information too.