My Choice – A Personal Tinnitus Story
I have devoted my life to the study of sound. I am not a physicist, a doctor, a scientist, nor an audiologist. I am a master of sound, an accomplished concert pianist. Since the age of eight, I’ve studied the relationship between the body and the vibration of musical notes. What I couldn’t have known is that one day I would deeply yearn for the one note I would never hear again – the note of “no sound.”
Perhaps the tinnitus was caused by all of those over-the-counter decongestants I was taking for my flu, or maybe it was the stress of being at the pinnacle of my performing career, or maybe it was the news that my wife, Nancy, was giving up a good paying job, or a combination thereof. Whatever it was, one night I dreamt I was sitting on an airport tarmac between two jet engines. When I woke up, I realized Silencil this noise wasn’t just a dream. It was in my head! I rolled off the bed onto the floor in a fetal position with hands over my ears.
Over the next few weeks, I begged doctors to help me. My journey of hope began with visits to family doctors, referrals, and audiologists. Weeks turned into years with more research leading my wife and me to more doctors, shamans, and dozens of healers around the world. We live in Canada, but traveled to as far away as Japan.
What started as my journey of hope turned into a dark and painful life with bouts of deep depression. The tinnitus sabotaged my music, my marriage, and sometimes my very desire to live. The worst part was that because my injury was not visible to the world, people had no appreciation or ability to feel compassion for my suffering. I felt very alone. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe Van Gogh cut off his ear to make his suffering visible to the world – not because he thought it would stop his tinnitus.
Believing no one in the world could understand my physical pain, or my emotional burden, I turned to the Internet only to find chat groups with more stories of chronic depression and misery. It became clear I wasn’t alone in my suffering, but it didn’t make me feel better about my situation. That was when my wife became the most afraid, and ordered me to stay out of the virtual company of these sufferers, and instead to stay abreast of research through the American Tinnitus Association.