Chris’ Story

When landscape gardener Chris went out to meet up with friends for a drink one night 20 years ago, he didn’t realize that it was a journey that would change his life. On the way there, a drunk driver ran into him head-on. Chris was thrown into the windshield, bashing his head on the steering wheel on the way through. While he recovered quickly from the physical injuries, he believes the accident was the start of a lifetime of tinnitus. Chris tells his story…

It became so bad that I was in that category they talk about of people contemplating suicide.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I think now that the big bang on the head caused my tinnitus. In fact, it took me a couple of years to register this very annoying background ringing noise in my ears the whole time. It wasn’t like a noise in my ear.  It was in my head, so I just thought it was something I’d have to live with. But it amplified in times of stress, or if I listened to loud music, if I went out and drank alcohol, or if I didn’t get enough sleep. It became so bad that I was in that category they talk about of people contemplating suicide.

At that stage I was a young person in my 20s and I wanted to go out to listen to live music. I wanted to stay up and party. The tinnitus didn’t stop me, partly because I didn’t know enough about it to realize that that this lifestyle was going to affect it.

I was pretty anxious about it. Some people talk about not being able to get to sleep; my problem was when I woke up in the morning. I’m an early riser, so at 4 a.m. I’d wake up with this intense screaming in my ears. For years and years, the first thing I would do in the morning was jump out of bed, because I couldn’t stand lying in bed in that very quiet situation with this ringing in my ears.

It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I came to understand that this was tinnitus and I could do something about it. First I went to an ear, nose and throat Specialist, who gave me the option of severing the hearing nerve, taking anti-epileptic pills or using a background noise speaker under my pillow at night. It seemed to me that he was just shooting in the dark.

I tried alternative therapists and naturopaths, who offered things like gingko biloba. The major benefit I got from the naturopath, though, was an understanding of how much stress and coffee affected my condition. I found the best ways for me to control my tinnitus was through relaxation, meditation, and lifestyle changes: not drinking too much, not staying up late, eating well, getting plenty of rest, doing yoga. I saw improvement, but it was very difficult to keep up with this treatment regimen. I’m the sort of person who’s willing to put in effort, but if I’m under stress I’ll drinking coffee!

The Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment has given me an easier and more practical long-term solution to tinnitus.

I got involved in Neuromonics during a bad period when the tinnitus was really bugging me. I’d either been listening to loud noises or I was stressed with something happening at work – probably a combination of both. It was at the point where I’d be saying half a dozen times a day, “This is driving me crazy.” I had to find something.

This must have been about two years ago. Now I’m at the stage where I only have to listen to my device when it’s necessary. For example, if I know I’m going out late, or if I have to do something noisy like use a chainsaw or leaf blower, I’ll listen to it before and after. So I don’t have to wait for the tinnitus to get out of control: I can do something to manage it before it happens.

It’s made life more tolerable. Before, I would actively avoid social situations like loud concerts or where there were lots of kids screaming; now I don’t worry about that because I know no matter how loud it is I can just put the device on and get some relief. I sometimes listen to the treatment when I am lying in bed at 4 a.m., and most mornings I’ll fall back asleep. My life is 100 percent better.