Last updated on 19 April 2012
My name is Michelle Meek, I am forty one years of age, I live in County Durham and work as a laboratory assistant for the NHS Trust and this is my story.
At the beginning of June 2009 I suddenly developed a strange noise in my right ear that I can only describe as morse code, I had heard of tinnitus, I didn’t know a lot about it but wasn’t too worried at first.
The next day I visited my GP, he checked my ear and I was told it was a viral infection and would clear up in 2-3 weeks.
By the fourth week my tinnitus was still as bad and I started to wake up during the night with panic attacks, I also started to feel very depressed. I then went back to my GP who gave me medication and referred me to the ENT department at Durham Hospital. Whilst awaiting my appointment, the panic attacks and anxiety became much worse, I stopped going to work and didn’t want to leave the house. I felt desperate by then and felt that I could not live with this for the rest of my life.
By the time my appointment day came I was under the care of the crisis team and was not feeling much better. My partner took me for my appointment where I had a hearing test, the consultant then referred me to lovely lady called Andrea Hall who is a hearing therapist.
Since meeting Andrea I have learnt a lot more about my condition and how to manage it, I was also told that I have a slight hearing problem, I don’t pick up a certain pitch in both ears, my right ear is the worst which is where the tinnitus started.
It is now 10 months since I first developed tinnitus and I have come a long way in a short time. I went back to work in July 2009 and I am now sleeping again without having to take any sleeping tablets. I bought a pillow speaker from the BTA and a relaxing CD and I’ve also been having acupuncture and reflexology which haven’t taken away my tinnitus but feel that they have helped with relaxation and my well being. I am also using a noise generator which I got from the tinnitus clinic which has also helped me a lot.
My tinnitus is now a little better although I do have a low humming noise which is there all of the time and the morse code like sound in my right ear is now more like a small squeaking noise which does go away from time to time. I am still unsure how or why I developed tinnitus, I have had an MRI scan which came back normal but I did go through a great deal of stress prior to developing the condition.
The fact is I have started to feel better over time, I know I still have a long way to go yet but I know I’m feeling more positive day by day, I realise I have been very lucky to have had great support from my family, friends, professionals and also the BTA.
I wanted to write this article in the hope that it will help others who may be going through what I went through in the beginning, I found it extremely difficult at first and I do still have bad days when I just long for my silence back, but you do start to habituate and hopefully my bad days will become less and less.
This article originally appeared in Quiet, Summer 2010
It is now 10 months since I first developed tinnitus and I have come a long way in a short time.