Ring Ring: A Guide to Tinnitus

Ok, so this blog has been empty for far too long now. The last post was nearly a month ago in February so I thought, in the spirit of recent Instagram stories (apologies about that), lets be open about something else.

Twice this year I have written blog posts about how I deal with Dyspraxia which, in a corny way, I nicknamed The Sideways. The first post was about growing up with Dyspraxia and how it impacted my adolescence (click here). The second was about its contemporary impact on my life (here you can click).

This post is about a recent discovery of how Dyspraxia (The Sideways was a slightly cheesy term) actually helps me with another condition (depending on your perspective), that I have, Tinnitus.

Go on NHS and it will say that Tinnitus is “the name for hearing noises that aren’t caused by an outside source”. Forms of tinnitus can include buzzing, ringing, roaring, whooshing, humming, throbbing or even, in some cases, singing.

Now the most irritating thing about Tinnitus is that it is permanent, there is no cure. Every second of every day that little noise, whether it is ringing or whatever, is present.

The second most irritating is when you realise that the reason you have it is your own bloody fault. This isn’t the case for everyone but for me I can, after a lot of thought, pin point it down to one event, the 2007 British Grand Prix. As a 10 year old I dared myself, sitting in the stands at the exit of Luffield, to take my ear defenders off just as the cars came past. Back in 2007 they were running 2.4 litre V8 engines and coming out of Luffield they accelerated in the dry at full throttle. Small unprotected ear drums and F1 V8s revving to 18,000 rpm don’t mix.

This was an unintentional self inflicted wound by a 10 year old who didn’t want to miss out. Surprisingly, there was barely any effect and I only very occasionally, every few months, heard it. The ringing didn’t become that noticeable until the 2017 Goodwood Member’s Meeting when, working as a Marshal, I said no to the offer of earbuds. This was just as a field of 20 1960s sports cars, that Ford GT40s and Lola T70s lined up. The noise was such that I genuinely couldn’t hear anything but ringing for the next two minutes.

It died down after a while but I knew I’d screwed up. This was a 20 year old being caught up in the moment and nearly being deafened by it.

Despite my idiocy, no other word for it, I knew Tinnitus was common and there were ways around it. One of those, oddly enough, was being dyspraxic.

Recently I discovered why, for most of my life so far, I have disliked nightclubs. When some Dyspraxics enter nightclubs or even crowded areas, though involuntary, our brains try to hear every single noise. So that’s everything from the music to the person to the conversations at the bar to the person vomiting in the corner.

This can become overwhelming and its why, alongside protecting my own tinnitus from getting worse, I wear ear defenders. This involuntary desire to hear everything has been helping me cope with tinnitus. This is due to the fact that because my brain is always to trying to hear every noise it is distracting me from the ringing.

Strange I know, but it works. Oh that reminds me…

Over the course of this post I have tried to sound positive describing how I have coped and tried to find my own strategy for tinnitus. Yet, dyspraxia only helps so much and I do wish I didn’t have tinnitus. There are some quiet nights when it drives me nuts, when there is no sound outside, when the air is still and all I can hear is this ringing. It is very easy for it to get to you some days. But you’ve got to crack on.

It is why it is important to always keep something making sound on, whether that’s the radio or music or even just leaving a window open to the outside world so you have any noise other than the one inside your head. Nevertheless I can’t change it and one day someone will discover a cure but for now we’re just going to have to get along. 😉

Finally, if you’re wondering why I’ve written this and the other posts its because I hope, maybe its a deluded hope, that this blog post can help someone. It might be that you know someone who has Tinnitus or Dyspraxia who struggles. The message of this post is that it there are ways around it.

If you want more information on how to cope with Tinnitus or have any questions on dyspraxia I have attached the links to each are below.

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tinnitus/
British Tinnitus Foundation: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/
Dyspraxia Foundation: https://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-adults/

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