#TBIthursday: More Sounds

Since last week’s #TBItursday: Sounds Like post wasn’t as detailed as I wanted it, I thought I would continue talking about sound and my hearing this week.

My hearing is something I could write about every week because I have that much to say about it. I won’t because that would be boring and annoying. However, I did want to go into more detail than I did last week. To summarize: my severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that I suffered as the result of a car accident in September 2016 has caused me to experience a variety of distortions and interferences with my hearing that have changed in intensity through the years but are present enough on a consistent basis to present as a severe hearing loss. Before the TBI I had perfect hearing. Immediately following the accident up until roughly 3-4 months after it I was completely deaf/non-hearing. Then when I started to hear sound my brain couldn’t process it correctly and repeated a series of 7 sounds on a continuous loop that I called my sound loop. I could hear sound at this time but everything competed with the sound loop. After roughly 3-4 months the sound loop dropped off after I had the flu with a high fever. Following the sound loop dropping off the changes in my hearing have been more subtle (I talk in length about the changes in my hearing in this post).

The main things to know is that I hear some pitches better than others (high better than low) and in addition to each sound being diminished and distorted, I also hear a white noise (akin to the white noise from a sound machine) constantly. The noise gets worse when I’m tired, sick, or in a noisy environment. I found this article that discusses how brain scientists are discovering that listening to white noise can do interesting things to your brain (Tinnitus is a guess). Oddly I used to use a sound machine constantly to fall asleep before the accident. Now I have one IN MY HEAD ALL THE TIME! 🤦🏼‍♀️

Visual Representation of My Hearing Now (September 2020)

Since my hearing issues are pretty unique to me (since they are mainly caused by my TBI and no TBI is the same), I decided to do a graphic to show what sounds “sound” like to me currently. Disclaimer: I am not a super-skilled designer yet since I am an amateur. This graphic is a pretty basic representation of what is actually a pretty advanced problem. However, I felt the visual helped express this complex issue in a hopefully simple way.

Graphic designed by me using images from Pixabay.

What this graphic doesn’t show is how my hearing is so completely affected by pitch. I can hear higher pitches better than low, as I said. (I have a novel idea based on this concept where the protagonist is a young woman who has lived on a planet with only men, besides her, because she and her father crash-landed there years ago. And because of a similar hearing problem she can’t hear men speak and therefore thinks she’s practically deaf until she crash-lands on a planet with only women. Working title: “Girl vs. A World of Her Own.”)

What this graphic also doesn’t show is that I am very sensitive to some sounds. Dishes clanging or silverware hitting a dish is like nails on a chalkboard to me. And I can hear noises like that but I have to read lips 100 percent of the time. And the sound coming from machines like phones and television are extra distorted. That’s why I rely on closed captions and don’t talk on the phone (I primarily text and I do have a CapTel caption phone). I also rely on technology a lot to help with my new hearing loss. It’s also why I did all the research for a pretty thorough blog post that I did on apps for hearing loss.

Not Really A Conclusion

It’s hard for me to conclude this post because a conclusion feels like I’m resolving something and my hearing is such a work in progress that it is certainly not resolved. Earlier this week I was doing a little research on hearing and came across something called the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) that assesses your level of handicap based on the severity of your Tinnitus. I took it and scored in the highest category (catastrophic handicap). I am calling my hearing issues tinnitus since that’s really the closest thing to what it is. Reading the results of this test just put my TBI and hearing in perspective. While my life is irrevocably changed in a pretty profound way that I don’t know will ever improve, my life has still changed in many ways I’m grateful for. And even though I have days where I feel like yelling “stop the world, I want to get off!” there are still plenty of days that I am excited to be on this spinning world!

A Selby Sweetie Throwback Thursday

I can’t talk about being grateful without talking about little Selby. This throwback picture isn’t a puppy picture but it is around a year ago. Looking at this just makes me realize she is still growing and changing!

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