Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Silence is Golden

That's what they say, but I wouldn't know. I don't know what it means to fall asleep to the sound of nothing, or to meditate in silence and stillness. I used to know these things, but not anymore.

I guess it was about a year ago, I'm not sure exactly when it started, but I started hearing a ring. It's constant and it's in both ears. I am hearing a sound that just isn't there, and I never have any quiet moments. Never.

The buzz of my regular day is usually enough to overpower the ring, but there is nothing to drown it out at night when I'm trying to sleep. If I focus, I can hear it even among office background noise.

The condition is called tinnitus. That's the fancy medical word for constant sounds that just aren't there. It's hard to treat, because any number of things could have caused it: prior exposure to loud sounds (aka damage), stress, nutrition (or lack of), irregular sleep. It's hard to pinpoint the cause and therefore hard to devise a solution. It's also subjective. That means I can't go to a doctor and tell them about my ring and have them hear it too and give me advice from there. Only I can hear this sound. And no, there are no voices!

My mother has had tinnitus for years. I didn't know that until I started complaining of it. I don't own an iPod, and while I do have an mp3 player, I rarely listen to it. In fact, my hearing is as good as ever. I can hear people whispering in the next row of cubicles. As long as I can sort out that ring. This leads me to believe its not damage to my hearing, though it is quite frustrating because my dad turns the car radio up quite loud. I bought ear plugs a few weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to bring them with me on those days when dad drives (just as a precaution).

Mom recently saw a commercial for a dietary supplement that was supposed to help with tinnitus. We found it, and it's some crazy $30 for a glorified B-complex. I already take a B-supplement every morning. The ring has not improved any. And, while so many other of my complaints went away when I started the Blood Type Diet in May, this did not. The store also had a homeopathic remedy that was a good $10 cheaper, and drops. My mom was leery about putting drops in her ears, though I think it will work better than swallowing a pill, so we both decided to try the homeopathic pills.

It's only been a few days, so I can't report if it was worth the trouble or not yet. The irony of tinnitus is that, since stress is one of the causes, stress also makes the noise louder and more annoying. And when you're lying in bed trying to fall asleep but for the ringing in your ears, you get more stressed out over it, then it rings louder, and your chances of sleeping at all are pretty much shot for the night unless you can calm down and let it happen.

I can't even express how much I would love to be able to hear the sound of silence again.

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