17 Days Ago, Everything Changed: Acoustic Trauma from Riding in the Bed of the Truck (Airflow)

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by DrewM, Jul 27, 2020.

    1. DrewM

      DrewM Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 10, 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      Hi, I'm Drew. I'm a 25 year old musician and writer. I don't know what else to do - I just need to tell my story to someone who will listen and maybe understand.

      On July 10, 2020 I was visiting my grandparents in Colorado. They live in the mountains, and we decided to go into town for some food and gas. I was riding in the bed of the truck with my younger brother. When we get into town, my grandpa puts these old, faded, clearly leaking gas containers in the back with us. I was kind of annoyed and I was disgusted by the smell but I just leaned my head out over the side of the truck to get some fresh air. In doing this, I placed my ears (particularly my left) directly in the path of the airflow around the truck. I didn't feel pain at the time necessarily, just a vague sensation that something was wrong. Unfortunately, I ignored this for the duration of the ride, which was over an hour over of >60mph highway.

      When we got home I could hear a powerful ringing in my ears. I had been to many concerts without ear protection before, and it always seemed to go away in 1 or 2 days, so I wasn't too worried.

      Three days later and it was not only still going strong, but I felt a fullness in my ears and a shift in my sense of balance. I started to panic. I made an appointment with my doctor who said it'll most likely go away in a week and, if not, to make an appointment with the ENT.

      The week came and went. The ringing didn't stop. It went from a deep whooshing noise at the beginning to a high pitched sine tone in my left ear. Soon after I started to notice my right ear reacting to noises, especially louder and higher pitched. It had improved since the start, but progress was slow.

      The ENT took an audiogram and said my hearing was fine. He got me a short course of Prednisone, though he didn't exactly recommend it because of the side effects.

      After a few days on the Prednisone I began to feel a lot better. My tinnitus was down to a consistent 1/10, essentially just a low hiss in the back of my head, and what I interpreted as hyperacusis became the main complaint. I thought that I might be in the clear with the tinnitus, and that I had brought on my hyperacusis by overprotecting my ears the past few weeks. Foolishly, against the advice of this forum, which I had started lurking, I put my headphones on yesterday. I'd heard from several people that "the headphones aren't the problem - it's the volume". There may be some truth to that, and indeed I had been using them at low volume throughout the week without issue. But all it takes is one mistake, which is cruelly easy to do: After a few songs at around 40% volume I could tell the volume of my tinnitus had spiked significantly. I was kicking and cursing myself for doing this to myself. It feels horrible; eliminating days of progress in the course of five minutes. It stayed elevated throughout the day, and I had trouble getting and staying asleep, which I hadn't had since the first few days after onset.

      So that's where I am now. The morning of Day 17. My spike from last night hasn't gone down to baseline I don't think, but it seems to be a little better. It's still mostly a hiss instead of a tone, just louder than it was. I had another similar setback around day 5, when I worked on a song without ear protection, but I continued to improve after that so I'm cautiously optimistic about my recovery going forward. I'm swearing off headphones for good, as I should have done from the start. My Prednisone course is almost done - one more day of 10mg tomorrow. Hard to say whether it was the steroids or time that helped but either way I'm glad I took every action that I could.

      Even though, ironically, this wasn't brought on by music itself, this experience has forever shifted my relationship with music, and by extension my life, as a musician. Without headphones, I can't take it wherever I go; and I have to be extremely careful when I do decide to listen at home on speakers. It makes the experience very special, almost sacred. I still play the piano and guitar softly, though I'll start wearing ear protection. All I wanted since I was a child was to be a famous performing musician. Now I have not only COVID-19 getting in the way, but my own ears. I am now questioning my most basic ideas about what I want out of life itself.

      Anyway, that's my story so far. I'll continue to update as things go on. If anyone has any advice, or experiences like this, or questions for me, I would love to hear from you, more than you may know. Do I still have a chance at recovery? Will I have to give up the things I love? I want answers, but I also just want support. I believe I'll make it through this, but at this point I'm still not quite sure how.

      Thank you.
       
      • Hug Hug x 4
    2. Ken219
      Frustrated

      Ken219 Member

      Location:
      New York Area
      Tinnitus Since:
      Summer of 1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure?
      My understanding of Prednisone is it promotes healing. I think it would be unsafe to take Prednisone and listen to loud noises. I would think the Prednisone would stand the hair cells up while the loud music mows them down? Does my hypothesis hold any weight?
       
    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      DrewM

      DrewM Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 10, 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      I don't know, but for my sake I hope not. I know prednisone is supposed to be taken as soon as possible following acousic trauma, but I don't know how it would affect acoustic trauma suffered while on it. I hope it simply speeds up the existing recovery.
       
    4. Mister Muso
      Creative

      Mister Muso Member

      Location:
      Scotland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2007 / April 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      It does indeed make music a sacred thing, when you have to ration your enjoyment of it. After three months of no piano playing at all, my first tentative rendition of Moonlight Sonata, through my keyboard at low volume, brought tears of joy to my eyes. I am now able to play a little most days using earplugs, and after a year out I am just starting to contemplate playing live again in a carefully controlled environment.
       
      • Optimistic Optimistic x 2
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    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      DrewM

      DrewM Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 10, 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      UPDATE: The 'normal' T seems to be close to baseline again. However, my left ear does have more hyperacusis I think. Some beeps and bloops on both sides, but they might be getting softer, or at least easier to ignore.
       
      • Like Like x 2
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      DrewM

      DrewM Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 10, 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      Another update:
      My T has been steadily improving. Yesterday it was to the point where it was virtually inaudible in my left ear. However, I had a spike last night that has continued into this morning - the ringing tone is back, albeit much softer. I think I'm getting used to spikes now, though, if it's anything like my last 2 spikes it should be back to baseline in another day or two. Fingers crossed!
       
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