This week is Tinnitus Week, and J. D. Rider explains what reactive tinnitus is. “Reactive tinnitus is different from common descriptions of tinnitus. It reacts to sound, for one. The sounds of traditional tinnitus are much more stable. Yes, they’re like a never-ending alarm clock that’s blaring in your head. However, the addition of reactive components will make the phantom melodies much louder and aggressive with noise stimulation. The trigger? Normal, everyday sounds.
For example, people’s voices may cause the tinnitus to rise, driving in cars, exposures to furnaces . . . anything with sound. The ‘fruits’ that you adore. Everything you love. No exaggeration. Life is sexy fruit, a taste that’s so amazing. But reactive tinnitus makes the fruit forbidden. When you realize the limits, it’s really overwhelming. You lose so freakin’ much. Like scrolls of pain and detriment, charting the ‘sins’ and forbidden fruits that persecute reality, unrolling their papers will frighten and discourage the people they apply to, as oranges, berries, bananas, and apples are listed as forbidden, ’cause tinnitus is sovereign, and sensitive to sound, and sound is everywhere. In life, almost every task is married to the soundscape, fruits withheld from sufferers hang from every tree, and trees are everywhere — there’s no way to avoid them. They’re toxic to the sufferer and spite their grand existence, so much so that even passing by them cripples everything. The remnants of their ears that they guard so profusely fall to hellish realms.
And therefore the affected souls isolate themselves, attempting to stop or control the cruel dilemma which stands before their feet: that sounds are torture traps, ransacking their quality-of-life severely, as exposures can permanently worsen their tinnitus, making it so horrific that it’s too much to bear, like jackhammers that drill and pierce with physical pain sensations, reaching one-hundred decibels. In those cases, housebound isolation is forced upon them to rein in temporary nightmares that come with spikes and also permanent worsenings that come with sound exposures. And it’s tragic because oftentimes even ear protection fails to protect them. It’s like a form of hyperacusis, or nerve degeneration, making sound intolerable. That’s my theory.
It’s important to recognize that tinnitus is not just tinnitus for some people — it’s a great oppressor that must be honored to stop profound defeat. The thing about it is, is that these people must adhere to the slavery that confines them. Otherwise they’ll worsen. And looking closer, when you realize that sound is everywhere, it’s really a catastrophic situation to be in. Of course I’m talking worst-case scenarios, but these people do exist, and I know a lot of them. I myself am one of them, sadly. We say goodbye to the sacred treasures of life that find their footing in sound, which is almost everything when you think about it, not by choice, of course, but by necessity. We’re allergic to sound, pretty much.
You know, forgoing the pleasures and beauties of life is so tragic that words, nouns, verbs, and prose will never capture the hell that comes with such a loss. And listing what I’ve lost would take pages and pages and hours and hours. You get the idea, but here’s a snippet: that peaceful high that grabs the heart when cruising down an asphalt wonderland of winding country roads on sunny summer Sundays; the freedom of dining at restaurants and cafés, looking across the table to see a lovely woman staring back with star-wear in her eyes; walking through a park as sunlight saunters in, the birds singing daydreams; the simple things in life; the joyous, precious things . . . swallowed by a phantom.
Basically, if sound is required to do a task, it’s out — I can’t do it. Even brushing my teeth spikes my tinnitus. I have to be really careful. My ears are glass and every sound threatens to shatter them. You see, life itself is merciless when health comes into play. Life can turn on a dime and stop you dead in your tracks. That’s what happened to me in 2021. A stack of injuries led to this condition. Reactive tinnitus — the thief of liberation — is now my cross to bear. People should read my story and shudder at the notion of losing everything. It can happen, believe me. Protect your ears. I’m only thirty-eight now. Oftentimes the average male lifespan is seventy, seventy-five, eighties perhaps. So forty or fifty years of housebound isolation is what I’m facing here. Ears don’t recover for many and treatments are elusive. There are no real treatments. So I take it one day at a time.”