Deafinitely Challenging: The Constant Ringing of Tinnitus

Imagine a kettle that never stops boiling. This is perhaps the best way to describe tinnitus. In medical terms, it’s often described as being a whistling or ringing in the ear which is permanent. Personally, I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It is permanent and with this week being Tinnitus Awareness Week, I thought it would be interesting to share my experience of living with tinnitus, as well as what you can do to prevent yourself from developing the condition.

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Photo: Coty Schwabe on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Admittedly, the origins of my hearing loss and tinnitus have always been a bit of a blur. However, since the early teens I can remember struggling to get to sleep at night because of tinnitus. Almost like reverse psychology, your mind tells you not to think about the loud ringing inside your ears, but naturally you only focus on it more. Whilst my hearing aids have masked the ringing during the day, not everyone is in my position.

For that reason, I cannot stress how important it is to listen to music safely. I have often seen cocky teenagers eager to show off their tastes in music on a busy train to London. The worrying thing about it though, is that if I can hear their music from the other side of the carriage, then God knows how loud it must be in their own ears.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that tinnitus is currently incurable and once your hearing is gone, it’s gone. There are many articles online which state the loudest volume – usually 80dB – which you can expose your ears to. Granted, music can be a wonderful thing – but is it really something to lose something as important as your hearing for?

Do you know someone who suffers from tinnitus, or do you have it yourself? Let me know about your experience with the condition by commenting below! 

Liam

Tinnitus Awareness Week runs from the 8th February to the 14th February. If you would like to find out more about tinnitus, or learn how to fundraise for the British Tinnitus Association, then you can click here. This blog update is also part of my ‘Deafinitely Challenging’ series, where I explore the main difficulties for deaf/hard of hearing people in the UK.

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The Last Huzzah | My Fourth and Final NDCS YAB Residential

It was a bit emotional on the Sunday, when I had to say goodbye to fellow members of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) Youth Advisory Board (YAB).

If you’re new to the blog and want to know more about my work with the YAB, read my posts about the last three residentials herehere and here

 

So this time, our last residential was in London. I arrived early on the Saturday morning and then the day’s programme begun!

We talked about our achievements with campaigning, we helped to feedback on NDCS resources and we also helped NDCS to decide which charities/organisations to work with to provide more opportunities to deaf young people (I particularly thought that vInspired and DofE would be great schemes for NDCS to work with).

 

Then after all that, we went for Pizza Expeess (which was right next to the British Library, which is nice), before having a graffiti workshop, where we made our own T-shirts!

The reason why this post is called ‘The Last Huzzah’ is because our YAB has a catchphrase, which is HUZZAH! So, naturally, when we got to spray paint the boards in the graffiti workshop, mine had to say this:

  

Then, on the Sunday, I got up early for a quick Full English breakfast before the last day of the YAB residential started.

We had a talk by our deaf role model, Lucy, who was on the last YAB. It’s always great to hear from other deaf young people and hear their stories. It was also reassuring to hear that her YAB still meet up occasionally! Hopefully ours will be the same!

Lucy also has a blog, called The Girl Who May Not Hear Your Secrets, so please do pop by and say hello!

Then we had a celebration of our time on the board. We had certificates and awards (funnily enough, I won the award for ‘most likely to become a world class journalist’ – haha!)

We then had a chance to take photos and say goodbye before our last NDCS YAB residential drew to a close. It was a tad emotional.

So to conclude, thank you so much to all of my fellow YAB members! It’s been great meeting you. Thanks to those who helped me to learn sign and you’re all friends for life!

Of course, thanks as well to all of the staff at NDCS who have helped out at the four residentials. You were all really friendly and helpful – I had a great time on the board!

But is it the end of the YAB? Of course not! We definitely hope to meet up again in the future. Also, I shall be working with NDCS in the future too – I shall be going to the Conservative Party Conference in October to talk to MPs about issues affecting deaf young people in the UK. Expect a blog post on that soon!

Liam

Thoughts on Tinnitus

This week is Tinnitus Awareness Week. For those who don’t know, I’m mildly deaf and have tinnitus. Tinnitus itself differs for each person, but for me, tinnitus is a loud ringing in my ears that appears whenever it is silent or there is no background noise.

Imagine this: you are about to go to sleep in a peaceful environment when a loud ringing noise emerges in your ear. You cannot ignore it. It distracts you, and deliberately focussing on it does not make it disappear…

Thankfully, I wear my hearing aids all day, which helpfully cut out tinnitus with background noise. However, that does not cure tinnitus, and some people still live with tinnitus in their daily lives.

Action on Hearing Loss have loads of useful information about tinnitus on their website. You can read more by clicking here.

Liam

First Visit to Scotland | My Second NDCS Residential

It was a day after the referendum that I flew over to Glasgow for my second residential as a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) member for the NDCS (The National Deaf Children’s Society). You can find out about the first residential, when I visited Birmingham, by clicking here.

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On Saturday, the day comprised of learning about education and future plans for deaf people, as well as campaigning. It was really interesting, learning about things I never knew were available for me as a deaf person, as well as giving me new ideas and perspectives.

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Then, on Sunday, the primary focus was on what the YAB would be focussing on over the time we have as members. The top three were Education, Planning for the Future, and Information and Support. In the end, once all the YAB voted, Education came first. However, the YAB will still focus on the other two too!

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Overall, I had a great first time in Glasgow. It is such a beautiful, historic city! I had great fun playing Crazy Golf with everyone, and Nando’s was good too. Every bit of it was awesome! Thanks to NDCS again for the amazing weekend!

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Liam

Review – ER20 Earplugs

I’ve mentioned on the occasional blog post that I am deaf/hard of hearing. The problem here is that for someone who plays the drums (very loud) – how do I balance hearing protection with actually being able to hear?

I knew earplugs would be the answer. At first, I was given the generic earplugs by my dad that are used for anything from industrial environments to those who have to put up with snoring other halves…

The problem here was that, although they had a greater protection rating (around 30 decibels), the earplugs were so protective that I couldn’t hear the music I was playing along to that much!

So I decided to buy ER20 earplugs. Shaped almost like a Christmas tree (with semi-circles increasing in size towards the ear), the earplug is designed to reduce sound to a safe level and thus make the person hear the music, whilst their hearing is protected.

They have now recently arrived, and over the course of the past week, I have had two occasions to try them out. Here’s my review!

So immediately, inserting the earplugs was difficult, uncomfortable and sometimes painful when getting them to fit in the right position. I later learnt that there is a specific way to insert the plugs – pull on the earlobe, then insert slowly…

Anyway, the first time I used them was for a generic drum practice. In the past, I have had to play my music (dangerously) at the loudest volume on my MP3 player, in order for me to hear both the drums and music I am playing along to. But now, I can play at the loudest volume, but after removing my headphones I am not (immediately, at least) met with the high-pitched ringing of tinnitus in my ears. It actually works well.

The second time was at a gig I went to on Saturday. There, I chose to try them out for listening reasons, rather than me playing. If anything, I couldn’t hear the vocals that well (but not really a problem in my opinion), but other instruments felt much more refined. I could hear the instruments well, and the volume was safe too.

So, the uncomfortable feeling should hopefully reside when I know how to insert the earplugs correctly. But for any other drummers/musicians out there, I do recommend at least trying out the earplugs. Let me know what you think!

Liam

An Amazing Weekend | My First NDCS YAB Residential

So I didn’t mention this a while back, but I heard that a charity for deaf young people in the UK, known as NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) was recruiting for its new YAB (Youth Advisory Board). I’ve wrote blog posts for them before and I soon found out about it!

Being on some youth groups/boards before, I knew that this would be awesome to get involved with – to meet new people, make new friends, and also, in this case, to learn some sign language! (Something I’ve always wanted to learn!)

So it was at the start of the year that I went to an interview, and they liked it! I have since been offered a place, and last weekend saw me go on the first residential of four!

I went on a train on my own to the location of the residential – this time it was Birmingham, which I’ve never been to before (ish – I went there for Cadbury’s World). Upon arrival at Birmingham, I immediately liked the city. As well as that, the Waterstones near the station was huge!! Always a good sign for a massive book-lover!

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Not to mention the station looked pretty cool too!

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Other buildings had cool architecture too!

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So we had a walk up to the venue for the residential, but along the way I couldn’t help at this rather “pointless” (pun intended) road name…

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The meetings with the board itself took place in a rather vibrant and colourful centre. It was a great place. For example, these were the clocks that were situated around the building…

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As for the meetings themselves, it was great as we learnt all about our deafness, had some interesting discussions about our deafness, and learnt about our role as YAB members.

Then, on Saturday evening, we went bowling! This saw me get a few strikes and spares – always a good feeling!

As for Sunday, we reviewed the first residential. It was this reflective mindset that made me realise how awesome the weekend was! I made some great new friends, and look forward to what the future holds for the YAB!

I’ll keep you posted!

Liam