I am Tinnitus, the sound in Jack’s ears

I’ve known Jack for some time now. It is hard to say when we were first acquainted. He probably became aware of me when he first encountered silence. Only in silence is it easy to pick up on sounds that you do not hear in the ordinary din of every day noise.

I wasn’t always this loud. His ear declined with age and in turn, I increased in prominence. His frequent bouts of ear infection did not help. Eventually, I became loud enough to annoy him every day.

He felt he could no longer listen to music the same way he did. He would wonder what different frequencies he was missing out on. He knew it sounded different, but did not understand what was different. It became important to him to find a solution.

Unfortunately modern medicine has not been able to find a ‘cure’, or eliminate me. Since I am only the dying siren of ear cells that cannot be replaced, medicine can only treat my symptoms – say by increasing blood flow, or by calming frayed nerves.

Let down by medicine, his focus turned to alternatives. When he tried a specific pose suggested by yoga, he became uncertain if he was soothing or aggravating me. When he google’d, he found only temporary relief in treatments such as relaxation music, the sound of rainwater, brown noise or other noises.

If a solution was effective, it would only keep me down for some time. Even an innocuous cup of coffee would bring me out roaring. My persistence and constant presence kept Jack occupied, confused and without sleep. As is common in such cases, he began to feel a sense of hopelessness, impatient and approaching depression. Outwardly he was changing and incessantly worried that I was making him worse.

What Jack didn’t know was how to come to terms with me. By allowing me to turn into an annoyance, he had gone to war with himself. I had become a convenient excuse to not meet his own expectations. When he finally understood this, he took it upon himself to master his mind first.

He’s now come to accept that I am a permanent part of him. The word one might use is ‘habituation’. By strengthening his mind he can finally begin to work on reducing his sensitivity towards me. This could only really be a cure from within himself.

* I am Jacks …