in response to today's ThinkKit.org prompt: Do you hear what I hear? Tell us about a sound. What do you hear in your house or at work?
I remember the first time my ears rang. I was 15 or 16 and had just finished my first band practice. I lay in bed and listened to my ears ring that night. It was something of a novelty and I didn’t think much of it. As I got older, and played more live music at high volume, I got to know that ring even better. It usually showed up around bedtime and was gone in the morning. Or at least I didn’t notice it in the morning. But in the last few years the ring hasn’t gone away in the morning. It’s always there, sometimes quiet in the background and sometimes impossible to ignore. Although I do still play live music and go to concerts I almost always wear hearing protection. Even a loud voice can set it off now. Sudden noises are the worst. I can be easily startled by a sharp, loud noise. It definitely has an impact on my nerves and stress. It can make it hard to be in public sometimes, especially at night, since crowded, loud places can be very hard on my ears.
This condition is called tinnitus. I assumed it was caused by years of playing and listening to music. Which probably has something to do with it. But the weird thing about tinnitus is that no-one really understands how it works. Recent studies have even suggested that the sound doesn’t originate in the ear but in the brain. I’ve done a ton of research on it and experimented with different supplements and diets. Some days the ringing dims, so I know this is fixable. I need to get to the source and begin controlling my diet and environment towards a future where I don’t live with that constant ring in my ears. The most I could move the needle was when I quit caffeine/coffee for a week. I’m back to a cup in the morning and when I cheat and have some in the afternoon I can generally expect increased ringing that night.
Pretty much all of us live with some constant companion in our lives. It might not be in our ears, it could be a knee that hurts, or emotional or physical abuse that lingers. There really isn’t any human being walking this earth that doesn’t carry with them some kind of companion like my ringing ears. Although these companions can be burdens they can also be teachers. Teaching us to listen to our bodies, know our minds and begin owning our existence. My ringing ears keep me in check. They let me know when I get too out of whack and veer towards unhealthy activities. So I try to be grateful for the ringing, it is a reminder that I must actively care for myself. ut I still plan to show tinnitus the door as soon as possible.