Infectious Sound: A Rod in the Spokes of the Inner Workings of my Consciousness

Will I wake up deaf tomorrow?

I can't pin point the time I started noticing the ringing in my ears, I can only vaguely narrow it down to a six month time frame around two years ago. But as soon as it started I began tracking it's progression, like a radio show that I've been constantly tuned into. A wild and scary ride that has fucked with not only my senses, but also my well being. Apparently there are many possible causes for Tinnitus and it is sometimes hard to determine those causes, unless, of course it's painfully obvious. Some people are even born with it but I have no doubt in my mind that mine came about because of repeated exposure to noise in the "intolerable" decibel range (70dB and up). Who knew all those loud sounds were bad for me?

A related memory

I distinctly remember a day in high school that might have screwed me over without me really knowing it until now. I had given Ryan Gordon my CD player to listen to a (Get up Kids? yes, I liked that stuff) song. At that time I felt really comfortable listening to my music at, say, 60% volume or so. A comfortable, non detrimental level. Well, he blasted the song on full volume while preaching to me that this was the only way to listen to music. I guess I believed him. I listened to that disc man with ear buds at full volume for at least 2 hours a day for 4 years. This, compounded with the fact that I never wore earplugs to shows, only proved to be a catalyst for future suffering. So, that's how it started.

The progression

past-it started out as a dull and barely there low end fuzz that I would only notice in complete silence. I'm sure that most people have a form of this. At this stage I would marvel at the sound of my ears ringing after a loud show and laugh about it with my friends because by morning it was always gone. Happy days, care free and ignorant.

more recent past-one day that low end fuzz just changed. Well, it didn't exactly change, it became dynamic. I could still only hear it in silent environments but now there was a second tone, a consistent high pitched pulse. It was as if the longest drone movement in history was revealing itself inside my head, and I was the only one who could experience it. Interesting article in The October issue of Wire magazine in which Kawabata Makoto discusses his Tinnitus and how it's changed over the years. Apparently he was born with the ringing and over time it started sounding layered and musical-sort of like what's starting to happen to me at this point. And when he was younger he used to think that the sounds in his head were UFO transmissions. hah...

Kawabata Makoto

Excerpt of Wire article

present-things have taken another dramatic turn over the last couple of months. The experience is now more physical. The ringing is gone but in it's place is a slow dense throb that is more felt than heard. It is all encompassing. When I say that I feel it, I mean that it feels like my head is in a vice. I like to imagine a tiny boy living in my brain who freely uses my eardrums as balloons, constantly inflating and deflating them at his leisure. The son of a bitch is relentless. He doesn't sleep, doesn't eat or take any breaks. His whole life is devoted to blowing the balloons and tightening the vice. And I don't know if it's related or not but my ears are also plugged all the time. Because of this I've developed a quick-inhale-jaw-loosening technique that clears them up for about 30 seconds until they get plugged up again. The whole process has become involuntary, I'm not even aware of when I do it anymore. Realistically, If I had to guess, I think I do the quick-inhale-jaw-loosen thing 70 times a day. This, I can only assume, has birthed a clicking in my jaw that becomes audible when I walk. Basically, my head is a circus.

Really, all I can do is take care of myself. I'm thinking about investing in some custom ear molds and maybe seeing a doctor about all this. Really it's not all that bad, the whole thing is part annoying and part entertaining. And besides, every good artist is either depressed or has some weird ailment right? I'll make sure to update my condition as it unfolds, and Below- so that I feel better about all this- is a list of some famous people who have Tinnitus, taken from this website. (I can't vouch for the validity of the site but either way it's interesting) Friends of Mine

NEIL YOUNG - Possibly the reason for his "acoustic" period in the early 90's.
Sure, or maybe that's where his artistic mind lead him.

BRIAN WILSON - Father hit him in the head with a board at an early age causing him to go deaf in one ear.

STEVE MARTIN - Developed Tinnitus after a pistol scene in Three Amigos.
Funniest thing I've ever heard.


ROGER MILLER of Mission of Burma. He had to wear firingrange headphones during shows so that the band could still play at a blistering volume without killing him. Nuts.


The question remains: will I wake up deaf tomorrow?


heidimarie said...

This Ryan Gordon kid sounds like someone's rock 'n roll dad.
When I was younger, most kids would say music had to be it's loudest...so everyone else on the fucking bus could hear it. Maybe the reason why they all didn't develop tinnitus is because they were listening to Mase (I am not excluding myself....)

You should really just get it all checked out. Just for good all-knowing measure. Just because we all care about you.
Mind you, if you wake up deaf tomorrow I'd be happy to learn sign-language. My cousin taught me all the swear words years ago.

The Fat One said...

Tinnitus is pretty much incurable without extensive and lengthy testing to determine the cause and even then the chances of finding the cause is very slim. Even so some of the symptoms you describe (apart from the tinnitus) sounds like (no pun intended) you might have blocked eustachian tubes. A series of anti-congestants and/or grommets might prove beneficial..... all available from your doctor. If your tinnitus is proving to be a hinderance then there plenty of groups out there who can offer advice on coping with tinnitus and some can advise on equipment which will mask out these sounds especially if you have sleep problems.

Amanda said...

My Dad is deaf in his left ear. He was rough-housing with the local kids when he was a boy and he fell into a ditch and a stick poked into his ear.

a d r i a n said...

ouch...what are the odds of that? I guess sticks and stones do more than break bones.