21 Years In. I Learned to Cope and Manage It. Maybe I Can Help.

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Mark McClelland, Oct 29, 2016.

    1. Mark McClelland

      Mark McClelland Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Heavy and repeated extreme loud music

      My name's Mark and I've had tinnitus since I was 21. I'm 42 now so that really is half a lifetime. Completely my own fault.

      I'm a professional musician and play electric bass guitar. Way back when I started at the very late age of 18 I thought I was invincible. Not long after starting to play, I was in a loud metal band. At band practice, I thought we were too quiet if I could hear someone screaming in my ear. I once even put my ear to an amp with a full on distorted guitar playing through it. The real reason? To prove I could. I've been asked if I was, like many people, stupid as a teenager. I've always said no. But with regards to lack of respect for my hearing, the answer would have to be absolutely, especially as I was warned of the dangers of loud music by one of the most respected rock musicians in my area who suffered with very bad tinnitus. Ironically, I was deaf to his words.

      It wasn't only the unprotected band practices and gigs I played. I also went to rock bars and rock nightclubs on a regular basis with the nightclubs in particular being very loud. And I'd scoff at the glass collectors in their big Top Gun style ear defenders. I was also a regular gig goer but there was one extreme example. Donnington was the biggest English heavy metal date in the calendar. I went a few times. Ten hours of pure guitar screaming heavy metal. In a crowd of almost 100,000 people, I did the entirety of one of these front row, right on the barrier. If I could have selected the lineup that year myself, I wouldn't have been far off from what it actually was. So dream come true territory really. But totally unprotected. Wasn’t an issue at the time though and it remains one of the best days of my life but is still an example of the ridiculous, no, absolutely insane levels of noise, and prolonged noise, that I was happily exposing myself to.

      After a year or so, after band practice there would be an incredibly loud ringing in my ears. A screaming really. One day I went home and it just didn't stop. That was over 21 years ago. It caused major issues at the time. I was just coming to the end of college and as we came to mock exam time I was unable to complete papers. One in particular I didn't touch at all. Just sat there for the entire two hours unable to write. I’d be fine but the second I bent down to write and started concentrating to do so, the screaming would return.

      I don't remember ever seeking treatment for this. Nor did I stop playing music. However, with the horse well and truly bolted, over the hills and far away, I finally bought a lock for the stable door. As far as I can recall, overtime the ringing started to grow less incessant and, while kind of always there and at times more than others, it became something I could live with and even forget about for decent periods. Sleeping has been an issue on and off but I found that if I had the radio on a little, that drowned out the ringing and I was OK.

      Fast forward to today and, with periods of it being better and worse, I have to be careful about being hubristic and inviting it on but even in silence I'm OK. I'm ultra careful about my ears to the point that I often can't hear the music I’m playing properly but I really think over the years my ears have adjusted so I'm able to hear certain frequencies even through the protection.

      I don't play in extreme loud bands anymore although have flirted with the concept in the past year or so. I've discovered it really doesn't take much to set the ringing off but if I'm careful for a day or two after whatever that is, is subsides again.

      My main motivation for joining was to share this experience I had just over a year ago. Due to the aforementioned band, and another work related situation, my tinnitus had come on full raging again and in desperation I sought medical help. First thing was an ear test in which I discovered that not only had I incurred practically no hearing loss apart from natural deterioration, but my hearing was actually above average. Very luck escape was how she put it. This doctor then referred me to one of the top hearing specialists in London for a look at my tinnitus. I have no names but this hearing specialist has worked with famous musicians. The following link is a my account of that meeting/appointment. It's part of my ongoing diary as a bass player going back to the day I decided I was just going to go for it and continuing to where I find myself today and, indeed tomorrow. So yes, this is kind of inadvertent advert for the diary, there's no getting away from that. If you discover it, go back and read and enjoy it, great. If all you ever read is the tinnitus entry, just as great. For over a year I've not thought about putting that out to the wider world, but recently some people told me it was really important and should be out there. So here it is. Once you're in, scroll down to day 268.


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