My right ear rings all the time. One day, about twenty years ago, it just started buzzing and it has never shut off since. As the hearing loss has progressed in that ear, the noise has seemed to get louder and more distracting. It’s an internal thing, so nobody else can really hear it (although I have pressed my head up against plenty of other people’s ears to check; “Can you hear that ringing in my ear? No?? Are you sure???”).
It started out sounding like a dial tone. Not one note, but a blend of many notes in discord.
Eventually it morphed into a combination of different frequencies – as if someone is trying to contact the planet Mars, or perhaps a distant radio galaxy via a home-made short wave radio, adjusting back and forth between stations and just pulling in some wild hisses and noises; a dying star, or the pulse of a quasar……”Come in Omega Centauri….Earth to 3C 373... Cygnus A…. Messier87, come in…..can you hear me?”…….
There are many causes of Tinnitus. Without getting into the explanations, I will just say that in my case, as my hearing fails, my brain is substituting other noises to fill in for the losses. You would think it would just want to sit back and enjoy a little silence, but no, there has to be this tortuous barrage of ongoing sound. Forever. The huge and constant rush of noise is so loud that it appears as if it is drowning out my ability to hear, but actually there is not much hearing in the right ear for it to interfere with (which is why this is happening). It can be distracting and upsetting, and can derail concentration. Sometimes it keeps me from falling asleep at night. Every once in a while it gets so loud that it wakes me up. There are times that it can be ignored, but other times it drives me nuts. A few times the intensity and relentlessness of it has even made me cry.
At this point in life I can’t even sing along easily with the radio in the car. Entire frequencies are missing when I listen to music. Emotions attached to this have ranged from frustration to devastation, and grief. I mourn the loss of my hearing. I hate the tinnitus. I try to cope with it, to be philosophical, to accept things as they are now.
When I was growing up, with great hearing and musical inclinations, I had perfect pitch. It was a pretty cool thing. Someone would hit a note on the piano and I could call it. I took it for granted, until it was gone. It is hard to believe that it ever was so. Often now, a strike on a piano key will elicit a wavering, calliope of sound.
But a funny thing happened yesterday. When I woke up, the ringing had shifted into more of a harmonious chord, with one prominent note. And I swore it was an E. Eeeee! EEeeeee! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeee! One big, endless EEEeeeeeeeeee going on in my head!