Friday, January 9, 2009

T is for Tinnitis

*****Oh. The cruelty of it all. I was half way through this entry, when my browser crashed. After I restarted it, all that is left of my post (which I had not saved) was the title. Cruelty! Note to self: While I still have this cut rate piece of you know what loaner laptop computer (mine has been in the shop since the day after Thanksgiving), all writing will be done in notepad and then pasted. When the browser crashes (as it does several times a day), it does not effect notepad. Sigh.*****

Song of the day: Funky Town? Life is strange.

Yesterday, our ear doctor (the aforementioned 'Dr. McCoy' saw both Ramona and myself. As I've noted in some of my earlier entries here, I've been miss-hearing quite often these days. While this can be amusing at times, it's not a good sign when you are 58 and the veteran of (quite literally) hundreds of rock concerts throughout a lifetime. The good news is, my hearing is unusually acute (for someone my age, now why do they always have to ruin it by saying that?). It's excellent.

What I do have is exceptionally LOUD tinnitis. I hear a combination of whooshing and static, along with several high pitched whining tones at all times. They measured it at somewhere around 40-50 decibels (ok I'm probably exaggerating), and people, that's a lot! I knew I had tinnitis of course, how could I not know? I've always been told there is nothing I can do about it.

Now we could blame the loud music, but the reality is that it started before most of the music was ever listened to. When I was 17, my best friend was Mary Lou. She and I had perfected the art of looking like the most cooperative, normal and trouble free teens ever, and so, when her parents were going to be out of town over Easter vacation (it was still called Easter vacation back in those days), I was invited to stay at Mary Lou's house to keep her company. Score!!!!! We had a complete week of partying and carrying on planned. Nobody ever looked forward to a week more than we did.

The week before, my dratted little brother (not you, Pete, that other one that must never be named) came down with scarlet fever. Scarlet fever! It's not just something that got you quarrantined in the twenties, but in reality, is strep throat with a rash. Perfectly treatable in the antibiotic age. Friday, yes, FRIDAY, I developed a sore throat. I said not a word and when mom noted a slight scratchiness of voice (along with the comment that maybe I'd better stay home), I still said not a word except, I don't have a sore throat and I'm fine. After exacting a promise that I would call and come home immediately if I developed said sore throat (like THAT was ever going to happen), she dropped me off at Mary Lou's.

Commencing to party, I tried to avoid person to person contact (I did at least know that much) and carried on. I smoked. I drank. I partied on. Well, I should say we partied on. It was the sixties, people! And apart from the mother of all sore throats, all seemed more or less well, until the following Saturday night. My ears were starting to hurt at bedtime, and at some time during the night, the pain in my ears raised itself to a full blown roar. You know when the doctors ask you to rate your pain from 1 to 10? Well this was a clear 11. And, I wanted my mommy. At first Mary Lou tried to talk me out of calling my mom (partly because we still had major cleaning up to do, I admit), and offered me aspirin. This pain laughed in the face of aspirin. She got out their heating pad, which promptly exploded in a cloud of smoke, smut and sparks upon my pillow when we plugged it in. Fortunately, I hadn't laid my head on it yet. It was over...I called my mom and begged her to come and get me.

In tight lipped silence she drove me home. She had some codeine, and a working heating pad. Then, since she was a head nurse at Stanford Hospital and knew a thing or two (like how long I had probably had that sore throat), she commenced to rant. I'll spare you, but clearly I deserved it. In the morning (Sunday=extra cost) she took me to the pediatrician, who, aghast at the state of my eardrums, prepared to lance them. I was a famous weenie when it came to anything pointed back in those days (I've toughened up since then), and with the help of my mom (who was probably secretly delighted) and another nurse, they held me down and accomplished the deed.

Well. I was more or less deaf. And by the next day, I lost all sense of equilibrium. This lasted for two weeks, during which I stayed home. I enjoyed seeing how far I could walk down the hallway before I fell into the wall. I got to stay home from school. And toward the end of the two weeks, my ears began to ring.

Except for one five minute period of of complete silence in 1980, when the ringing miraculously stopped, they have rung ever since. I'm sure the loud music didn't help any, but it wasn't the cause, and at any rate I started using ear plugs years before it was the thing to do. Apparently, there is a clinic in Portland Oregon that specializes in the treatment of tinnitis. I called, my insurance, such that it is, won't cover it. Also apparently, Xanax can help. Don't know if I'd want to go there.

Apparently it's affected my hearing, lol! I've developed coping mechanisms...I don't like it when it's quiet, I always have a television or music or radio playing. I've tried sound machines, didn't work for me. I've learned to just ignore it, or keep my mind occupied at all times with something or other. I've noticed it far more in the last couple of days and it's bothered me more, because I've been focusing on it. I've tried vitamins, but so far, have never tried anything that is advertised in the back of magazines. I figure, if it worked, it would be in an article in the front. I've done biofeedback. Inconclusive. I'm a little tempted by the Xanax. Apparently for some people, it really works. However, I am a pretty calm person...would it turn me into a zombie? I don't sleep well at night, but really I think that's lack of hormones.

I don't know. I'm open to suggestions, but I really think I'm just stuck with this. Hopefully I'll be back to sublimating this soon. Too bad they can't just stick an eartube in it!

(Huh? I can't hear you!)

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