My Journey

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Joe P., Mar 21, 2019.

    1. Joe P.

      Joe P. Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown but recently worsened by a gunshot
      I am new to the forum but I am well aware of the emotional trauma of the dreaded tinnitus. I am 44 years old with a wife and 3 kids and can say that I have had tinnitus since I was around 8 years old. I do not know the cause or onset.

      I am writing because I want to let others suffering from tinnitus that you can cope with it and have a successful and fulfilling life. It isn't easy, it will require you to be strong, and you can't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

      When I was young my tinnitus was generally very tolerable and in the background. In my teens out of the blue I would suddenly experience spikes in the high pitched sound to a point that I couldn't block it out. I went to doctors, neurologists, audiologists, etc. but as mysteriously as the spikes came they would go away within about a month or less with no treatment. Between spikes the tinnitus would go back to my normal and I could deal with it quite well. During these spikes I went through what many of you are going through. Anxiety, sleeplessness, hopelessness, and the lingering question of whether it would get better again or not. I would constantly put my fingers in my ears to check to see if there was any improvement. Sometimes I would get into a near depression but thankfully the tinnitus always improved. I never needed to go on anxiety/depression meds but I was close a few times because I was getting to a point where I was having trouble functioning.

      Fast forward through my life and the spikes came on bad every few years but always improved in time. I was a police officer for 25 years and had a successful career (now retired). I was a good husband and father to my wife and kids and continue to do my best. When the tinnitus spiked I found that my best defense was to keep on living. I did everything the same...went to work, went to family functions, exercised, etc. I figured keeping busy was my best defense to push through these spikes even though I felt like a zombie sometimes. I tried masking the sound to get sleep but generally I just endured it to better habituate. This has worked for me for most of my life.

      Well this past Saturday I went to the firing range and was momentarily distracted. I took off my hearing protection and forgot to put it back on. I fired one round from my 9 mm handgun outdoors and immediately realized what I had done. In 25 years as a police officer I was exposed to non-hostile gunfire without hearing protection on two other occasions but it did not seem to cause me any issues. This time I had some temporary loud ringing but it went away within a minute. I put my hearing protection back on and kept shooting.

      A day later the tinnitus spiked to an unbearable level all day. I had never had a spike caused by loud noise before so I didn't know if it would improve as it usually did. I was scared to death, I had severe anxiety, and cried and prayed. I really felt like my stupid mistake was going to change my life and force me to completely begin the coping process again with no end or relief in sight.

      Yesterday I forced myself to go on a pre-planned hiking trip even though I felt awful and only got 1 hour of sleep. During the trip I felt some improvement but then it would spike again. I could even hear it on the way home in a noisy Jeep with the radio on and 4 other people talking. I got home and went to sleep because I was so beat. I woke up to very loud tinnitus within 2 hours and laid there awake. I started reading to distract myself and suddenly the tinnitus went back to about my normal level. As I type this all is still good and I am coping well.

      I write this because I wanted to give you all hope that tinnitus symptoms can improve with time. The journey through tinnitus is complex and different for everyone. My career put me up against dangerous people twice my size, I saw terrible human suffering and experienced much work-related stress. But nothing I have ever dealt with has been as stressful as dealing with my tinnitus when it spikes. I am generally confident, healthy, and strong yet it has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion.

      So in closing, keep fighting my friends. By moving forward I think all of us can find some light at the end of the tunnel. Remember that you need to keep going because your family and friends need you. By reaching out to them for support you will find that many of them also suffer from tinnitus as well. Be patient with yourself. If you are religious, ask God for help in getting you through it. I know God has helped me in my darkest hours.
      • Hug Hug x 5
      • Winner Winner x 1
    2. Tony Phylactou

      Tony Phylactou Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Low 20 years high sept 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cement factory noise lowT,then stress high T
      I do hope it is permanent. Thanks for sharing.
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