Deep into the night of July 25, 2016 while in Virginia, I suddenly lost all hearing in my right ear. On Tuesday (7/26) I was diagnosed with SSHL (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss). Apparently idiopathic (meaning they rarely can tell what exactly causes it), I was left with no explanation as to how or why this happened, but alas, it was my grim new reality. The first few days I was overcome with deep sadness and depression, since music and sound is so integral to my existence and identity as an artist/designer/animator/filmmaker. I spent much of the first few days sleeping… as it was my only solace from the nightmare that was my reality. When awake, I found it impossible to focus, and my psychological/emotional/physical/spiritual state was in continual flux. I felt a desire to put pen to paper, to try and create something beautiful out of the darkness, but I couldn’t muster the stability to do so… hence my absence from creating/posting anything online for the initial couple weeks. But 2 weeks later, I began channeling my experience into audio/visual output. A few words specifically about this piece… I started creating this at one of the low points toward the end of the first week, when I was back in my NYC apartment, alone with unanswered questions and an unclear path for moving forward, me in the corner, losing my…
The first few days of hearing loss… fearing worst-case scenarios.
Week 1: complete silence in right ear.
With no sound in my right ear for the first several days, my (good) left ear became super strong, but also thus super sensitive… a toilet flush sounding like an explosion or being in the shower sounding like a raging waterfall. Our dog Brownie’s barking was unbearable and even my dad’s regular speaking voice sounded WAY too loud. Had to wear noise-canceling headphones to escape the bombardment.
I’m unsure when EXACTLY, but I believe the tinnitus began around Day 3 / Day 4 as I returned to NYC. What you’re hearing is a digital estimate of the ringing I’ve had in my right ear every waking second since it began. Some days are better/worse than others, but… it’s ALWAYS there.
From what I’ve heard, there is no cure, and although some people have said it fades in time, others have said the ringing will be there until the day you die, which is of course a dreadful thought for me… something I’m trying not to think about for obvious reasons.
The audiologist informed me of an app called ReSound, which I’ve been using for ambient sound to help drown out the ringing (ESPECIALLY when trying to fall asleep). For those of you suffering from tinnitus, I recommend it. And if anyone has any further recommendations/advice for dealing/living with tinnitus, please do share.
At the Week 1 point I had my first steroid injection directly into the eardrum. As unpleasant as that was, it was at this point that I started to finally see a bit of improvement. Although not *quality* at least I was getting some *quantity* of sound in my right ear. The garbled sound you hear is actually a pretty close estimate of what I heard between my first and second injections. Some hope, but obviously still a ways to go.
Every day now I feel out “THE NEW NORMAL”. It’s a mix of thankfulness for what I do have, optimism for future improvement, sadness for what I have lost, and well, just dealing with the continual state of flux. Some days the tinnitus gets worse, and other days I’m not sure if it’s gotten better or if my brain/body has just adapted to what is still just as bad. It’s certainly a strange time in my life, but regardless of how good or bad things are or may become, I carry on… one day at a time.