Well, I wish I could say my plumbing system kick start of yesterday was enough to have business running as usual, but alas, this is not the case. My system is still extremely sluggish despite the addition of a laxative to my diet. If things aren’t moving by tomorrow, I may not be able to avoid another replay of yesterday’s events. Oh joy, something to look forward to.
I cut my pain meds dosage in half today. I’m tolerating it but I think I spent more time sleeping today than before so maybe that helped me cope. There’s still a fair amount of pain happening and dizziness. I was hoping the dizziness would dissipate with the lower dosage of pain pills, no improvement there as of yet. One thing is for certain, I want to rip the bandage off the side of my head. It is SOO itchy! I wish I could get rid of this crusty one and put a nice new one on, but apparently, I’m stuck with this for another week and a half (until I get the stitches removed). I wonder what the incision looks like and how many stitches I have.
So, let’s talk tinnitus. For those of you who don’t know, tinnitus is just the medical term for “ringing in the ears” – but it’s not limited to a ringing sound. It is often described as chirping, humming, whooshing, etc and affects as many as 1 in 5 people. It’s not a condition in and of itself but more often a symptom of an underlying condition such as hearing loss. The best way I’ve heard it described is like a phantom limb syndrome – when accompanied with hearing loss, it’s like the brain’s way of coping with the lack of sound input. Its a very loud “silent” struggle as no one can hear what’s happening inside your head so they can’t see your suffering. Like one of the many invisible illnesses so many people battle.
I’ve had tinnitus in the form of chirping crickets as long as I can remember. But as long as I wore my hearing aids and there were other sounds around, I hardly noticed them. Back in November of last year, I developed more of a humming noise along with my crickets. It would always be there, but most of the time I was able to keep myself distracted enough that it wasn’t a huge bother. It progressively got worse over the months to the point where I likened it to a lawnmower constantly running in my head.
There is no treatment or cure for tinnitus, only coping methods. The most effective method is masking (using other sounds to cancel or drown out the tinnitus). Unfortunately, the sudden and complete loss of my hearing in June left me with no mode to combat my tinnitus. I found myself suddenly in a screaming loud silence. No longer able to hear the world around me, yet tormented relentlessly by the lawnmower in my brain.
The first few weeks were, by far, the hardest. There was no escape from the buzzing, it would wake me in the middle of the night and it would prevent sleep from coming. The sleepless nights caused greater stress, which in turn caused more tinnitus. So it was a viscous circle. There were so many times I wanted to put my head through a brick wall; I would scream at the top of my lungs for my brain to stop. I shed countless tears. I would give anything for just 5 minutes of true silence. I kept hoping and praying that my brain would finally give up and accept that sound no longer exists in my world but, as my dad always said, I am a stubborn one. With every day that passed I gradually gave up the hope that my tinnitus would go away and instead clung to the promise of sound that my CI would bring.
In leading up to the surgery date, I knew that one of 3 things would happen, post surgery. My tinnitus could get better; it could stay the same; or it could get worse. Now in my mind, I wasn’t sure how it could get much worse than it was and even if it didn’t improve, I figure I’m looking at a month more of dealing with it before I could start masking with other sounds. Well, now that the surgery is over, I can say that it definitely CAN get worse and it did get worse initially. The first two days the sound was deafening at times (I know, bad choice of words). However, it has since settled down quite a bit. I get moments of crazy sounds like bird chirping, rumbling, and twice I was sure I heard voices (FREAKY!!). But overall, I’m no worse for the wear. I’m still holding out for activation and finding other sounds to listen to aside from my lawnmower. I do, however, wonder if I’ll ever know the true sound of silence.