After 11 Years of Coping with Tinnitus It Went Berserk After Hammer and Chisel Use

Discussion in 'Support' started by sleepless, May 23, 2021.

    1. sleepless

      sleepless Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Dear people,

      After 11 years of coping with my tinnitus in a very successful way it went absolutely through the roof after the 'accidental' use of a hammer on a chisel... I would never (!) have dreamed in my worst nightmares that I would be posting this story online right now... My life changed drastically because of a 2-second acoustic event. Incredible to say the least!

      My tinnitus started in December 2009 after a very loud metal-concert. I didn’t use earplugs at the time, because I was stupid and my ego was in the way, I didn’t want to look ‘weak’. It was very clear that I still needed to learn a lot in life. I was 24 years of age at the time. My relatively young age was a downside (still a lot of years to go with my damaged ears) as it was a benefit (a younger brain is more dynamic which is useful for learning how to cope with tinnitus).

      After half a year of immense mental pain and insomnia I started to appreciate life again, bit by bit. I learned in what moments I wasn’t paying attention to my tinnitus and that really helped my brain to just ignore the sounds. It was an unbelievable experience, because I would never have thought that I could have fun in life again with all those horrible noises in my head. It truly was an eye opener in how powerful a mindset can be. Especially in my case, because I tended to look at things in life on the dark side.

      I consider my tinnitus not to be the easiest, since I have 4 (at more tense moments 5) different sounds:
      1. High pitched noise which I hear 24/7 and isn’t maskable, at 11.000 Hz
      2. Mid-tone beep, which I am able to mask with for example music, but is audible in for example office environments/outside in nature/etc., at 1450 Hz
      3. Low-tone beep which I will hear at tense moments ,during day-time and clearly during the night, at 200 Hz
      4. Another low-tone beep which I will hear at tense moments during day-time and clearly during the night, at 180 Hz
      5. On bad days I also will hear a very high pitched electrical sound, which has a very reactive character to external sounds.
      As stated, I considered myself to be very successful in learning how to live a perfectly normal life with my tinnitus. I always was a light sleeper who would wake up by the slightest external sounds and to prevent the risk of waking up multiple times in the night I even started wearing earplugs to hear nothing at all (except for my tinnitus) and slept very well with it. My brain apparently didn’t give a * about the noise anymore. I am still amazed as I type this after all those years…

      The problem however with a person literally forgetting about their tinnitus is of course that the risk of making mistakes gets bigger! That is exactly what happened; on the 26th of April 2021 I was helping my neighbor out with repairing his fence. Some old pole needed to get removed from the holder it was in and we were struggling to get the last piece out. In a glimpse I saw my hammer and chisel laying in my tool box and I asked my neighbor to give it to me. Without even thinking about the sickening noise that could come off of that I started hammering the chisel with full strength. After a few blows on it for like 1 or maybe 2 seconds (giving it a few blows per second) my ears started to hurt like hell and for a moment my hearing went completely numb. I immediately grabbed my ear-plugs and continued to work on it. Of course I was absolutely mad at myself, but I tried to not think about it. I told myself to give it a few weeks before making conclusions like that it would have permanently damaged my ears or increased my tinnitus permanently.

      I took a picture of the ‘perpetrators’:


      From that moment on, I clearly heard that my high pitched tone was going through the roof! I wasn’t worried too much though, because before starting to panic I would give myself a few weeks. I was slightly annoyed by it, but that was all. I was sleeping very well (8 or even 9 hours per night without an issue >> how strong the mind can be with the right mindset!).

      Also, hearing sounds like plastic or paper bags crackling makes my ears go slightly numb and I also noticed that when I eat food the sound coming from it in my skull sounds different then it used to sound; it’s like the sound isn’t whole or complete (if I describe this correctly).

      After giving it 2 weeks, the anxiety and thereby insomnia started to kick in; how am I going to live with this accelerated and very ugly high pitched noise invading every moment!!? The problem also is that the high pitched noise is screaming at high volume over everything I do. It is also reacting to sounds, so if I want to distract my mind from the noise and start to listen to music, talk to people (especially over the phone), watch TV, etc. it will fluctuate a lot; it sounds like electrical distortion. So the tone will go higher and lower in volume every or even a few times per second making it really difficult to put aside.

      My 1450 Hz tone also is clearly audible in al kinds of situations where it wasn’t before. I’m not sure whether this is triggered by the high frequency noise trauma or because of my current stress and bad nights. The chisel frequency was much higher then 1450 Hz. This also applies on my 2 lower tones, but I am and always was less bothered by those.

      After giving it a few weeks, I started telling my struggle to people in my environment like colleagues, friends, girlfriend, and family, but I quickly noticed that it gave me an adverse effect because they just don’t understand how energy draining this condition can be. My conclusion is that sharing this story with people who don’t have it takes even more energy from me, because the way they approach this condition is like ‘try to take your mind off it’ and so forth. Of course this is true, but in this (second) initial stage even an experienced tinnitus sufferer can be torn apart by the hopelessness you can feel every waking second. I then find myself in a situation that trying to make people have ‘empathy’ with me is costing too much energy, because they can’t. Since I feel even more depressed because of talking about it with people in my environment I made the decision to not do that anymore >> I told them that I’m going to try to cope with it on my own and don’t want to talk about it anymore. Also in the hope that my brain starts to filter out the noise quicker when it isn’t brought up by other people anymore. Even when I think that people might be thinking about my struggle because I told them about it will make me think about it more..

      I am someone who is in need of a clear interpretation of what really happened instead of going on with all kinds of unanswered questions. I like to learn from this as much as possible and this also involves trying to figure out if this event actually was that bad for my ears or that there is still some hope in recovery. Is this just a very bad spike made worse because of anxiety and bad nights?

      - What where the frequencies of the sound?
      - What was de amount of decibels?
      - Were those sound impulses long enough to do serious damage?

      I have this simple decibel-meter and I used this app on my iPhone 12 Pro Max to measure the decibels coming from it. They both come up with approximately 100 decibels at max. I also used this app to measure the frequencies coming from it and it comes up with most noise in the range from 4.000 to 12.000 Hz. I think these solutions aren’t capable of measuring these short sound-waves in a correct way though…

      To measure this in a serious way I guess I need to hire a professional sound-meter which is able to record these short sound-impulses better. I live in the Netherlands and I could hire something like this; would this be appropriate?

      Thanks for reading my story.

      Sincerely, an experienced tinnitus sufferer with (hopefully) a very bad spike.
      • Hug Hug x 3
    2. K.A.

      K.A. Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2008, then 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure
      I am sorry for what you are experiencing.

      I believe the meter must be able to measure dBC (instead of dBA) to more correctly measure impulse noises. Also a lot of meters only measure a narrow range of frequencies.

      It is really difficult to "know" if one has made damage, but usually when it comes to impulse noise it might be something to consider how much it "hurted", the pain level. Which is supposed to be at around 120 dB, about the same level where damage may (or may not) occur from even short times of exposure.
      (I myself however find about 85-90 dB painful at some frequencies due to what I guess is hyperacusis, so you might not be sure it was 120 dB even if it did hurt.)

      As a sidenote, I observe people all around pounding hammers on nails, even some professionals like carpenters, never using protection. How these things occur after seconds for some and not even after years for others, I just have a hard time understanding.

      Hope you improve.

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