Second Time Around

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by NotA2ndTime, Oct 14, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. NotA2ndTime

      NotA2ndTime Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Xanax
      I first got tinnitus 4 years ago. I was experiencing many health issues which perplexed doctors and me. For lack of any ideas many of the doctors I tried suggested my problems were depression and anxiety related. To make a very long story short, time has proven that my problems were not anxiety or depression related, but at the time, feeling like I had no other options available to me, I acquiesced and agreed to take antidepressants and Xanax. That is a decision I will forever regret because what ensued next was far worse than what the ailments I was living with.

      After taking my first dose of Xanax, I woke up a couple hours later with my ears screaming. Up until that point in time I had never had any problem with my ears. I had the fleeting, transient, very short periods of tinnitus (like 30 seconds) that I know the vast majority of people experience on occasion. My annual hearing tests at work were always very good. They usually elicited comments from the audiologist along the lines that I had exceptional hearing.

      I scoured the internet for solutions (Tinnitus Talk being one of the sites I frequented often as a visitor) because my encounters with doctors over the matter elicited the same response that the vast majority of tinnitus suffers get: nothing you can do except get used to it.

      It took about 18 months, but eventually the tinnitus volume settled down to a tolerable level that I have lived with fairly well since then. But the first year was sheer hell. For the first several weeks I had great difficulty sleeping. One of the most disturbing things aside from the annoyance was that I could not read or even watch TV. Literally, the words would get all jumbled up in my head and I could not make sense of them. As an engineering professional who has to read and write and interact with people a lot, this put a streak of fear into me like I never had. If I couldn't do my job, how would I support myself and my family? Now I not only had physical ailments that were mildly my affecting my life, I now had something that was affecting my livelihood and ability to function as a husband and father. If doctors thought I was experiencing anxiety and depression before, they did not know what real anxiety and depression was, and neither did I until then. I became quite suicidal. I was ready to do anything to make the sound stop, and stopping life seemed like a viable alternative.

      I sought the help of a psychiatrist. Looking back, my assessment of this so called mental health professional is that he was a complete idiot. Had I been of my regular mind at the time I would have never gone back to him after the first visit. He mentioned a book by some psychologist who claimed that Xanax saved him when he first got tinnitus. He further claimed that he eventually cured his tinnitus, but the reality was that he just habituated as most do. I don't remember the book name or the author, but I sure many TT members have heard of it. I sought the book out, and read (once I regained my ability to read) portions of it. I found it to be poorly written - filled with spelling and grammatical error, and very repetitive. In a few words, hardly an authoritative treatise on tinnitus like this idiot shrink presented it. Anyway, on that basis he said I needed to take Xanax. It was the best treatment available he thought. Rather astonished since I felt it was the cause, I complied nonetheless. Another huge error on my part, but I was desperate. To make another long story short, I eventually realized and later confirmed with my own reading about Xanax, that it was causing my blood pressure to sky rocket between doses. Having been a rather fit person for the vast majority of my life, my blood pressure normally ran about 70/105, and did not deviate much from that even during my initial office visits post tinnitus and pre-extended Xanax - i.e., at the height of my anxiety. During this period between doses of Xanax my blood pressure would spike up to 180/110 until I took another dose. Never at any point before or since has my BP been anything like that. It was quite repeatable, but neither the idiot shrink nor my internist would recognize what was going on. They said it was all due to anxiety.

      Jump about 4 months forward. My ability to read returned which relieved a good deal of my anxiety, but I was still suffering from the annoyance of the screaming sound and hyperacusis. I can still remember how incredibly annoying the hypercusis was. My youngest was still at the age of crying not infrequently and that would drive me crazy. Also, the sound of dishes and silverware tinkling together was almost unbearable. Couple with that, the loud hissing in my ears would literally make me ill to my stomach. By this time I had figured out that Xanax was a negative, not a positive, in my life. So I asked the shrink to help me get off of it. He refused saying that I needed to take it for the rest of my life. I vowed at that instant that I would get off of it. It took me around 6 months, but I succeeded and I credit that with much of my rapid improvement afterward, though it was not easy. I first tried to lower my dose by half, not knowing any better. I became very sick, anxious, more suicidal than ever, trembling almost to the point of convulsions. My wife called the doctor and we learned I was going through Xanax withdrawal. It was a hugely frightening experience. I read up on the internet - info from a Professor Ashton I think - about tapering my dose. I began shaving my pills down my by the tiniest amounts. I was down to about 1/64 of my original dose when I quit taking that awful drug completely. By then I had also quit going to the goofy shrink. I continued to take anti-depressants for about the next year, but then quit taking them as well. During this time my tinnitus gradually subsided to medium tolerable levels, never completely going away, and sometime spiking to very annoying levels, but generally much better.

      Over the next year, things continued to improve, and I have been living a pretty normal life since. Until a couple of weeks ago.

      Because of my other health issues I have had to give up my prior normal recreational activities of playing tennis, golf, and running. I gradually returned to participating in outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and hunting. Things I had not done much of since my pre-college days. Hunting? Yes hunting ,with loud shotguns (though with ear protection). My son gained a great interest in hunting, so I became interested in it again too. I had vowed to not let tinnitus run my life, so I wasn't going to let it spoil the fun and bonding time with my only son. I even went so far as to become certified as a shotgun instructor.

      As you might guess, more than once I forgot to put in my ear plugs and/or my ear muffs before firing. It is an easy thing to do. Normal conversation between shots with hearing protection on is difficult. So sometimes I would remove the protection to talk, and occasionally forget to put it back on It was a very infrequent occurrence though. I may be exposed my ears to naked firearm noise 6 or 7 times in the last year. The blast would cause some short term tinnitus at annoying levels, but nothing like I had before, and it would subside pretty quickly. But this last time - wasn't like that.

      I had been helping a friend of my son's - a new shooter - between shots. I took my ear plugs out and forgot to put them back in. When I shot, the ear pain and loud ringing was immediate and worse than any other prior time. I ignored it, put my plugs in and kept them in for the remainder of the practice session. By the time I got home, the sound had subsided greatly, so I was unconcerned. I woke up that night, however, with my ears screaming at a level every bit as bad as my worst experiences before. The hypercusis returned over the nextfew days, and I have been unable to sleep much since. From an anxiety perspective things are not too bad. I've been through this before, I tell myself, so I can do it again. I am a little worried nonetheless that maybe I have done serious permanent damage that will not allow the sound to subside.

      I decided to join TT this time rather than lurking in the background. Having not kept up with the frontiers of tinnitus in the last couple years, if there is something new in the field that I should know, I'd appreciate it if someone brings it too my attention. I'll be combing through threads I suppose looking for some thing, but I suspect I won't find any clear cures or reliably helpful treatments, and that I'll just have to endure hopefully until I habituate again.

      I'm not at all sure what to do about shooting sports. I don't want to have to tell my son I can no longer take him hunting. He has gotten rather good at it. (I have ingrained in him to always wear hearing protection, by the way).
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. glynis-harbron
      Feminine

      glynis-harbron Member Benefactor Hall of Fame Ambassador Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      England, Stoke-on-Trent
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Meniere's Disease
      Welcome to Tinnitus Talk.
      Thank you for sharing your story and can see you have been through so much already and face it all a gain but with more understanding .
      important
      I would avoid shooting as easy forget pop your ear protection in and you could put your sons in danger too.
      Time to rethink what most important and how you would cope with worse tinnitus and emotional reactions and depression......lots of love glynis
       
    3. SilverSpiral
      Worried

      SilverSpiral Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      You could wear headmounted muff and have a rule of never taking them off.
       
    4. NotA2ndTime

      NotA2ndTime Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Xanax
      Update: Things seemed to get a little better for a few days, then 3 nights ago suddenly the bottom fell out. I woke up after sleeping a short time and my ears were screaming louder than ever. I have not been able to sleep more than a few hours since and I am getting physically and mentally sick as a result. I just want it to stop!

      Maybe my memory of how bad it was before has faded because presently I just don't see how I can take much more of this. I am quickly falling into a very deep depression, and I am ready to accept death to end it. If I knew things would become tolerable again, I might find the strength to fight through this hell again. I've lost faith that it will get better though, so I'm finding it very difficult to fight. More so than last time. I'm just completely expended. If there was some hope somewhere ... but I'm not finding any. Nothing I've read gives me even a glimmer of hope. I went to the doctor (a new one for me since my old doctor took a new job and no longer sees patients) earlier in the week when things were a little better. I got the standard "nothing I can do for you". I understand the answer, but the fact that it is so void of hope just plain hurts. I asked about trying hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but the doctor didn't seem the slightest bit interested in pursuing it.

      I didn't go to work on Friday. Don't know if I'll make it Monday.

      Barely hanging on.
       
      • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
    5. MikeL1972

      MikeL1972 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      3/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Uknown
      Hi NotA2ndTime,

      Welcome to the board!

      I read your post and it was very enlightening.

      I can only imagine what you are going through... it is like an episode of the "Twilight Zone" when you seek out the help of a medical professional, and the only response they have is "we can do nothing for you at this time, so just learn to live with it". When I went to the ENT back in March, this was the answer I got as well. It was very frustrating and a waste of my $60 co-pay.

      Since you are not alone in this world, you need to stay strong for those who rely on you. With that said, continue to explore alternative therapies, ie. drumming technique, vitamin supplements, reduction in salt/caffeine/sugar.

      Also, you should know that something like 50 million people have experienced tinnitus in America alone based on what I read.

      Based on what you wrote, you are experiencing a spike it sounds to me. Perhaps a round of steroids can help you? Maybe you can make an emergency appointment with an ENT or even your family doctor?

      I hope things work out for you!!! Stay strong!! You can do it!!
       
    6. NotA2ndTime

      NotA2ndTime Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Xanax
      Thanks for the support @MikeL1972. Had some relief yesterday - don't know why - but this morning the sound was way back up at 15 out of 10. Went to work anyway and just tried to focus on work. It got me through the day, but the sound has been so intense that it wracks my body (making me sick to my stomach, shaky) and mind (agitated, irritable, on edge, hard to stay focused in meetings - I'm normally a very calm person). I liken the effort required to avoid just screaming in pure frustration to trying to hold your hand over a flame by sheer will. Torture - it is torture.

      Nota
       
    7. Sebastians

      Sebastians Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      13/10/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Guitars, loud girls and guns
      Man, depending on how long ago you suffered your acoustic trauma, it might not be too late to try a short taper of prednisone or hbot treatment. If unavailable, overdose on magnesium, b vitamins and order some NAC as a last resort.
      Don't expose your ears to loud noise, including trains, bars, traffic noise etc but wear filtered earplugs instead around anything upwards if 65-70 db. Hopefully you'll see improvements over time
       
    8. NotA2ndTime

      NotA2ndTime Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Xanax
      Thanks - I appreciate the love.
       
    9. MikeL1972

      MikeL1972 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      3/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Uknown
      NotA2ndTime... some coping/distraction suggestions include a daily walk or even exercise; anything you can do to take your mind off it is a win. I hope things improve for you...
       
    10. NotA2ndTime

      NotA2ndTime Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Xanax
      I found some electronic muffs that allow the sound to pass through electronically when the sound levels are normal, but cut it off when the sound intensity exceeds something like 80 db. I tried them out last week after things settled down and before the big spike I'm enduring now. I wore plugs underneath the muffs, and they worked very well (I must admit to quite a bit of apprehension in trying them for the first time). By turning up the volume on the muffs I could hear normal sounds that I would have trouble hearing with plugs alone, but firearm blasts were muffled to a quiet poof (well maybe a little louder than a poof, but substantially less than wearing plugs or muffs alone). Nonetheless, I'm finding myself contemplating giving up shooting sports altogether, but I really don't want to since it has been the most rewarding recreational activity for me over the past couple of years, and it has been really wonderful to have something that my son and I enjoy together. My wife hunts by the way too, so my son can continue do that with her. I'll just feel very left out. By the way, my wife probably hunted more than I did as a youth, and did not where hearing protection. She has none of the problems that I've developed. Strange how selective this thing is. She does wear hearing protection now.
       

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