I wanted to type that in capitals – TINNITUS DRIVES ME CRAZY! You might ask what that has to do with art and other such worthy things, but actually it is really difficult to concentrate on anything with the constant noise.
Tinnitus Drives Me Crazy
My tinnitus is particularly bad if I am exposed to certain loud noises. One year we had a builder in to replace some tiles on the back terrace so there was the sound of power drills going on in the background all day, literally the other side of the wall from where I was working.
What Is Tinnitus?
So what is tinnitus? According to Wikipedia, “Tinnitus is the hearing of sound when there is no external sound present”.
If you have never suffered from it you can not imagine what it is like to be kept awake or be unable to concentrate because of the sounds you can hear but no-one else can. I sometimes sit bolt upright in bed thinking the burglar alarm is going off and it is just my tinnitus doing its thing.
What Caused My Tinnitus?
Given the volume I like my music you might be forgiven that in my case tinnitus was caused by loud music but in fact it came on as a side effect of medication I took for many years to help cope with Sjögrens Syndrome. In my case the disease was giving me bad arthritic symptoms and it was the medication for that which may have led to my hearing problems.
Unfortunately in my case I don’t remember any gradual decline. I remember just thinking one day there is a lot of sound in my ears. I actually thought it was the hum of the freezer and other electrical equipment in the house that I could hear. It was only when we had a complete power cut for a day and laying in bed I could still hear all these sounds that I knew I had a problem.
I Am In Good Company
I am not alone with this problem of course – apparently Beethoven suffered from it! It is estimated that one in every ten adults in the UK has tinnitus and over 50 million Americans – here is one famous American talking about his tinnitus.
What Do I Hear?
My tinnitus operates on several levels and is different in both ears. A range of hums at different pitches, hissing and high pitched noises that are sometimes worse than others. Some days my brain will screen it out and I don’t notice it. Other days it is hard to ignore it. I didn’t realize how bad it was until a recent hearing test where I struggled to hear the beeps of the test above the noise!
When I go to bed the noise can be overwhelming. It will compete with Barnet Boy’s snoring for my attention! But there are coping strategies for dealing with it. My Mum bought me a sound pillow which helps enormously. You can read my review of it here. I also slow my breathing right down and meditate and if I am lucky that does the trick.
I tell you, tinnitus is not for wimps!
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!