Last updated on 01 July 2011
Jason first started Djing around 20 years ago and noticed the beginnings of tinnitus soon after.
About five years after I started DJing I was working in Faliraki on Rhodes at a night club which had an exceptionally loud sound system. I used to go home with ear ache, have trouble sleeping and this strange ringing sound – as if someone had twanged a fork – used to stay in my head until well into the next day.
By the time that summer was over I had permanent tinnitus in my left ear. I sought advice but was told there was not much anyone could do and that if I continued exposing myself to loud noise I would suffer some hearing damage later in life. Being young, the idea of the ‘future’ never entered my head so I continued to work in high-noise levels without protection.
Gradually the noise became worse. Despite that, I was blasé about it. I used to say it was a hazard of the trade; like getting a bad back if you were a road digger.
Around four years ago the problems really took hold. Overnight my tinnitus changed pitch; I suddenly became aware of the noise as if it were brand new. It really shook me up. I couldn’t hear the TV and telephone calls were almost impossible. One evening I was sitting in front of the TV with my wife, crying my eyes out because I couldn’t understand what was being said on the programme. My wife was great and comforted me but I felt alone because she could not truly understand what I was going through.
We decided to seek help and advice and contacted the British Tinnitus Association (BTA). By this stage I was taking sleeping tablets – and would have got hooked had the BTA not helped. They saved my sanity – putting me in touch with a fellow sufferer who understood my problems.
I spoke to my GP and he recommended a hearing specialist. On my first visit he did a hearing check and then said: ‘Son, your hearing is no worse than that of a gunner or a tradesman that works with a drill every day. The problem is that you are listening to the wrong noise, not the right one.’ He suggested a noise distraction machine to help me sleep.
I came away feeling very deflated and thought I was never going to solve my problem. But as I used my noise machine it helped me sleep again. A couple of weeks later it suddenly hit me. I understood what the doctor was talking about. I reprogrammed my head to listen for positive sounds, not the tinnitus. My tinnitus is still there but I can cope now by not listening for it. I sleep great at night.
I feel like an ex smoker though. I preach the dangers of noise pollution to all young DJs. I have had ear protectors made to fit my ears (they have almost become a fashion item!) and they help to protect me from any more damage. I am now strong and I control my tinnitus, not the other way round.
My message to anyone who thinks they may have tinnitus is ‘you are not alone’. Feeling alone is the worst part, thinking that no one understands. But there are people who can help. To me the BTA was a beacon of hope that at one time I thought did not exist. If you are worried about tinnitus or you know someone who may be suffering from the condition I urge you to call the BTA. They can offer you the support, advice and information that can help you through it.
Jason is known as DJ JFK. His website is www.djjfk.co.uk
My tinnitus is still there but I can cope now by not listening for it.
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