Last updated on 19 April 2012
It happened in January 2006. A heavy night out in one of London’s big house clubs. I could feel that something was wrong when I left the club, this horrible ringing, not like the buzzing I sometimes got after a long night out, no it was much louder, different. I assumed that the noise would disappear after some sleep, but I was wrong. The ringing was still there when I woke up and would prove to be a nightmare for an unforeseen length of time.
The first visit to the GP was a letdown, I was told that the ringing, called tinnitus, would probably disappear with time but if it didn’t stop, I could come back in two months to get a referral to an ENT specialist. I couldn’t wait that long and decided to see a specialist privately. The treatment I received was a mixture of vitamin B, anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. After three weeks of feeling like a zombie, there was no change in my tinnitus. I contacted the BTA to get some comprehension and explanation about what had happened to me. Talking to people that understand was helpful but it also made me realise that there wasn’t much that could be done to actually treat my tinnitus.
I thought my happy life was over, I’d become a social outcast. I was only 24 and up to now, my life consisted of regular clubbing nights, but I couldn’t even handle the noise level in a normal bar at this point!
My tinnitus robbed me of sleep and filled me with anxiety. My fear of noise had grown so much that I didn’t even dare to go out anymore because I was worried about making it worse. The ringing didn’t leave me alone. I was suddenly over-sensitive, the clattering of the tube, the humming of the bus, the high pitched stand-by sound of my television, every little noise just irritated me.
However, I wasn’t ready to give in. I realised that the only person who could do something about my tinnitus was myself. I had to accept it and find ways to live with it.
I bought various types of earplugs until I found a type I felt comfortable with. I started to go to bars again. Too scared of the noise, I would use my earplugs. My first visits were restricted to half hour sessions until fear would take over again, but gradually my time there increased to an hour, two hours and finally up to an entire evening. Then I dared to make brief visits to clubs that I knew weren’t too loud and wouldn’t harm a normal person’s hearing.
Nearly a year later, I have built up my tolerance to noise so much that I can go clubbing now for a full night as long as I take my earplugs with me (which I don’t have to use in bars anymore!) and choose my clubs carefully.
My life is back to normal, my tinnitus has lost its significance and I often forget that I still have it. I’ve learnt that you cannot let tinnitus dictate your life but that you have to make the best of the situation and enjoy your life again. There is hope.
I’ve learnt that you cannot let tinnitus dictate your life
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