A Musician's Article on Tinnitus... My Story...

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Plinky, Aug 21, 2016.

    1. Plinky

      Plinky Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      4 years
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise damage, violin playing
      I have written an article on my tinnitus that i intend to publish outside of tinnitus 'circles' :) . Any thoughts very much appreciated. Thanks

      “Life, the Universe, and Everything”.

      I watched a moving film this evening that took me into a contemplative and reflective mood. It feels like a good time to write this article, one I have been meaning to start for some time. I have allowed some time and space for things to settle down before finally putting pen to paper. Some have warned me not to publish, for fear that it ‘writes me off’ in some way. I would rather just be honest and explain how things are.

      The truth is that I have developed a problem. I have kept it fairly quiet, because to talk openly about it, even to write it down and let you read it, means that I have had to come a long way to find some level of acceptance of my situation.

      I had to have heart surgery a while ago to replace a damaged aortic valve, but whilst that was obviously an ordeal, it is not the problem I am talking about here. In most cases, heart issues are fixable. No, my problem has not enjoyed the amazing breakthroughs in medical science that so many other areas like hearts have. My problem is one that you can’t see, and is not life threatening, but it is life changing, at least it is for me.

      Music has always played the key role in my life. My love of music, my striving to learn to play well, to express myself, has driven me to explore many areas that I may not otherwise have done; helped me grow psychologically, spiritually and physically.

      Throughout my childhood, music held my hand, was a friend with whom I could share my feelings. As a young adult my desire to improve took me into therapy, learning to release the tensions and stresses that my body had previously absorbed. It gave me a focus that created meaning. Music took me to Alexander technique classes and to studying the great players of the past, to read about their approaches to life and art. Music later opened up the gateway to my own training to become a psychotherapist. My musical desires have led me to become a professional violinist, traveling around the world meeting and playing with many wonderful musicians, and been the passport that allowed me to enter into warm and welcoming communities.

      My problem started almost imperceptibly. I was living in a Stockholm flat and had to practice my violin in a specially designed ‘silent booth’, a room within a room. After several months I began to notice a low level ringing in both my ears. Over time it became much worse no matter how hard I tried to protect them. I wanted to carry on playing, but had specific occasions, certain gigs that I can remember where things deteriorated suddenly and permanently. The fact is that by practising in that booth with a loud violin, I had unknowingly damaged my ears.

      Tests have since revealed that whilst my everyday hearing is still within the ‘normal’ range, certain frequencies have been adversely affected, causing this seemingly chronic tinnitus situation. Over the past four years I have gone through a tough process. Initially I tried to hold onto my playing career, but realised as time went on that I could no longer function as a musician in the ‘all encompassing’ way I had done in the past. I have slowly withdrawn further and further away from the musical world I loved, and from the people I knew so well in it because I can no longer take the noise levels and environments that most of you would consider ‘normal’. As well as the intrusive and constant ringing in my ears they have become very sensitive to the most ‘innocent’ of noises that in the past I would not even have noticed.

      I have gone through a grieving process for how things were, and how I wanted and planned them to be in the future; tried to come to terms with this new and at times daunting reality.

      I have been known as a violinist, and most of my social life has been based around that. It would now be very frustrating for me to go to musical events and be reminded of how things used to be, that I cannot join in as I once did, and more importantly that such outings could further damage my ears. I have taken the last three or four years off from playing completely, and tried to learn to become more accepting, more comfortable with the void that this has created. I have moved my musical ‘passion’ to other areas with varying levels of success.

      So, where do I go from here?

      I am searching for positive and meaningful ways forward. I have an understandable yearning for calm, to be in beautiful and peaceful places. With this in mind, I am currently travelling in my camper van having sold most of my possessions. I am left with only a small number of important essentials including my currently neglected instruments, a choice book, camera, laptop and mobile phone. I meditate on things and work through new paths I can explore. I intend to do more writing in various forms and continue developing my recently aquired interest in photography. In the longer term I hope to find a new home, settle down in a place where I feel inspired to follow my creative pursuits and possibly work a little as a psychotherapist once again. I would of course like to find some way to bring music back into my life if I can do so ‘safely’.

      In the first draft of this piece I concluded by putting a positive spin on things. A ‘one door closes, another opens, silver cloud” ending. In truth, the last few years have been challenging and I still take each day as it comes. I wake and continue working at accepting the new realities, and try not to waste time worrying about small insignificant things, to put into every day things I enjoy and am able to do now.

      Please take my advice and be careful with your own hearing. Modern life is in many ways just too loud for our sensitive hearing systems. There is no going back, once damaged, that’s it. Its amazing to think that one hearing trauma event such as being exposed to some loud ‘feed-back’ on stage, watching an overly loud film at the cinema or as in my case, a gradual straining of ones hearing, can be enough to give you a complex and for me often isolating 24/7 tinnitus situation.

      For those who live with conditions that impact their everyday lives, you have my very deepest respect and understanding.
    2. Tamika
      No Mood

      Tamika Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      One loud indoor concert
      Hi and welcome to the forum.

      Your story really moved me and I'm so sad to read how your life has been impacted. The only thing I can say is I'm glad to know you are finding some way to hang in there and change your life and keep going. I truly hope you can find some happiness and quality of life despite your loss.

      I am not a musician but I did take up playing the harp (38 string level/celtic harp) and was really enjoying it. Then I made a fateful mistake 16 months ago. My husband wanted to see a concert held at a small indoor venue. He asked me to buy tickets. Lucky us when I booked we were allocated front row seats. I hate loud music but stayed for the 2 hours despite finding it painfully loud. It was just an old reggae singer not a rock band. Everyone around me looked happy. I didn t realise one event could permanently damage your hearing. There are not warnings or awareness of this where I live. Not something I would choose to go to. I only did it and stayed because I wanted my husband to have fun. I never knew he had tinnitus already. We had been married 8 years. He had never told me he had T. Seems he doesnt' 'suffer' unduly from it, although he now admits he has it and finds it annoying. He didn't even realise loud amplified music was such a big risk or contributor. Some people with T seem to be able to ignore it and don't even question how they got it. This is hard for me to understand.

      Anyway I just wanted to share and I say I understand. Thanks for your story. I think you are very brave and doing well.!

      Kind regards

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