14 July 2008

Where Chant and Westerns collide

I have tinnitus -- a chronic case of never-ending ringing in my ears. As a child, I had tubes put in my ears when I was in first grade. My ears were pretty much OK until a few years ago, when I experienced some dramatic hearing loss accompanied by the hideous ringing.

Actually, I've always had the ringing in my ears, but it was so low that the room would have to be quiet before I could hear it. Now, the ringing is so loud I can't hear the phone ringing and have to have the TV on pretty loud just to rise above the noise in my head.

Rush Limbaugh has lost most of his hearing. He also has tinnitus. Rush attributes his tinnitus to a fertile, active brain. But, the real kicker is that he says his tinnitus sounds like Gregorian Chant...and sometimes a western tune. (No, I don't listen to Rush, I find him too bombastic and inflammatory for my tastes, someone who knew I had tinnitus told me about Rush's comments).

It's called tinnitus, "ringing of the bells," for a reason. If it was called Schola-itus I might believe he was hearing Chant. I only wish I was hearing Chant instead of ringing. Chant would put me in a good mood, calm me down, maybe even make me more contemplative. I'd trade the noise in my ears any day for persistent Chanting.

I hadn't heard that "fertile brain" song-and-dance before. What I had been told about tinnitus is that your brain gets used to hearing a range of sound. When you suffer hearing loss, your brain freaks out because of the silence in parts of this range and starts making its own noise to fill in the areas where the sound is missing. I don't know if the medical world really knows why this happens and they don't have any cures (other than teaching you to not "hear" the noise by not concentrating on it).

Everyone has aches and pains and various afflictions. I think this is God's way of giving me something to offer up each day. Many days, when I'm lacking in anything good to offer up, I always have this little suffering. Not much, but I think God knows my limitations. I used to pray God would take the tinnitus away. Now I just pray it doesn't get louder and I pray I don't start hearing rap music instead of ringing. Yes, I count my blessings, it could be worse.

A few years before my father died, I asked him one day after he had been praying silently for hours saying his daily rosary, knowing that he had a litany of intentions for so many people, who and what he was praying for. First intention he mentioned: he prayed for his daughter's ears and his son's eyes. This is 30 years after I had tubes put in my ears and had no subsequent problems. And, it was 30 years after my brother had surgery for a lazy eye. Dad was still praying. God bless him. Some day I hope to learn just how much my father has interceded for me. Sobering to think that I could possibly be deaf if it wasn't for his prayers.

Transcript from Rush Limbaugh:

RUSH: In fact, there's a story in the stack today that the brain creates noise and the smarter and the more active the brain, the more noise. They figured the older that you get the less noise the brain creates. Now, you people know about my brain; it's one of the best. And my brain does create noise, I'm not kidding. Some people have said, "Well, Rush, it's tinnitus, the ringing tones that you hear in your ears." Since I went deaf, I have this all the time, but in my right ear constantly. It's been there since I lost my hearing, and finally it's become so much a part of my existence, I have to concentrate on hearing it, but it's there. I really think I'm hearing Gregorian chants all day long, and it's crystal clear. I asked the ear doctors about it, they said the mind plays strange games, but it literally sounds like a high quality tape just looped in my brain as though I have normal, very good hearing. It's the strangest thing. I read this story today and it explains it. I have a great brain, and great brains make a lot of noise. Why it's Gregorian chants, I couldn't tell you. My own personal soundtrack and it's in there for something.

Speaking of soundtracks, sometimes I do hear soundtracks from Westerns. I do. In fact, let me give you an example of a soundtrack of a western that I sometimes hear. You remember the old Blazing Saddles tune? Well, my brain plays a different version of that.

(playing of Blazing Saddles spoof)

Right, all right. That's white comedian Paul Shanklin, ladies and gentlemen, of course the takeoff on Blazing Saddles, theme song for the movie Blazing Saddles. There's something on the tip of my fertile brain and now these Gregorian chants are so loud that I cannot remember what it was I was going to say.


Ray from MN said...

Is there a tinnitus support group?

I've had it too for a long time, but not as severe as what you describe. It doesn't interfere with TV, radio or conversations. Mostly aware of it when it is silent. Since I rarely listen to the radio during the day, and live alone, that is most of the time for me.

But it hasn't gotten worse over the years so I've never reported it to my doctor.

I figured it was just part of the "wear and tear" of the aging process.

I hope and pray that yours doesn't get any worse, Swissie!

sexy said...
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