Harris Tatakis

My name is Harris Tatakis, and I'm 40. I am a former Royal Marine who was injured in Afghanistan. I was blown up in April 2007 when my Land Rover drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). The blast shattered my left leg, broke my right foot, ruptured both of my eardrums, caused brain damage and left me paralysed for two days. However, the tinnitus this explosion caused is the thing that’s affected me the most.

Because tinnitus is an unseen injury, it doesn’t get the attention it warrants. There is not enough understanding of how life-limiting tinnitus can be – the need for low background noise to distract you combined with constantly keeping yourself occupied to stop your brain focusing on the noises it’s being bombarded with, it’s hugely tiring.

I was in hospital after the explosion and undergoing a lot of surgery – I needed to rest as much as possible so I could start to heal and get better. But while I was being given morphine for the pain, medication couldn’t do anything about the constant ringing in my ears which was affecting my ability to sleep or even try to relax.

After 10 years of suffering, my symptoms have reduced to a level that I am able to 'live with' after benefiting from Levo® treatment from The Tinnitus Clinic in Bristol.

I am the first veteran in the UK to receive the treatment, which is being funded through the Veterans Hearing Fund after I successfully applied for a Royal British Legion grant to cover the cost of my treatment.

Levo® works through an iPod to deliver a personalised sound that stimulates the hearing part of the brain while I am sleeping. It aims to 

teach the brain to ignore the hissing or buzzing associated with tinnitus and reduce its loudness and annoyance.

My tinnitus was horrendous and making me feel desperate and I was searching online every day for treatments when I discovered this treatment. I started receiving a mixture of Tinnitus Desensitisation Therapy™ (TDT) and Levo® in January and they have reduced the intensity a lot. I am able to function a lot better and can live with the level.

There needs to be a much greater understanding of tinnitus and the treatments available. People get told all the time there’s no cure and while that may well be true, there are treatments out there that can help make it much more manageable and easier to live with.

The Veterans Hearing Fund

The Royal British Legion's Veterans Hearing Fund (VHF) provides support to veterans whose hearing loss is due to their military service, and whose wellbeing needs cannot be met through statutory services (eg the NHS). VHF may fund hearing aids, peripherals or therapies such as lip reading and counselling.

The scheme is currently accepting applications. More information can be found on www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-support/finances/grants/veterans-medical-funds or call the Royal British Legion contact centre on 0808 802 8080.