HYPERACUSIS CENTRAL

Travis’ Hyperacusis Story

by | Mar 21, 2023 | Patient Stories | 14 comments

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Travis playing guitar with his cat, Toby, who he refers to as “the love of his life.”

Hello, my name is Travis Scott Henry and I suffer from hyperacusis and tinnitus. I think the onset came from a combination of factors. I feel like I was more susceptible to getting these conditions due to physical and mental stressors. I’m 6’6” and have poor posture, which caused me to develop neck problems. These issues were made worse when I was stabbed three times in my shoulder, forearm, and back of my neck, after coming to the aid of a young lady at a party who was being harassed by a group of guys. I’ve had to deal with a lot of psychological and physical abuse that has taken a toll on me over the years and given me trust issues, anxiety, and OCD.

Prior to the onset of my symptoms, I had a long history of noise exposure, but until I got the COVID-19 vaccine in August 2021, I didn’t have any ear issues. I started noticing tinnitus in quiet settings after that. Over the next few months, I went to 3 concerts with no worsening of symptoms, so I thought I’d be okay.

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Travis with his dog, Beans, and cat, Toby.

Unfortunately, in January 2022 I listened to my dad’s band play in a small space one evening, and afterwards my tinnitus volume increased substantially, began to fluctuate, and I developed hyperacusis. At that time, I was able to listen to quiet music, exercise, and work, so I had some coping mechanisms. The same month, I went on a ski trip with my girlfriend and my symptoms continued to worsen. After I returned from my trip, I tried 2 different masking devices to help me sleep with the loud, intrusive tinnitus—Bose sleep earbuds and a headband with sleep headphones. In each case, the constant noise in close proximity to my ears worsened me even more. Everything around me began sounding so much louder and overwhelming, and my tinnitus turned to a deafening electrical sound mixed with a gushing water faucet. Without the ability to mask my tinnitus, getting sleep became a major struggle.

I was growing very concerned about noise exposure worsening me at this point, so in February and March, I went to 2 separate clinics where I was told I just needed to learn to mentally accept my conditions and that every day noise wasn’t what was causing the exacerbation. They advised against wearing hearing protection in my daily life, and insisted if I did that it could actually worsen my hyperacusis. Following this advice, my ears continued to become more irritated on a daily basis. I was given several ototoxic medications in attempts to calm my anxiety over my ears. When I tried them, they also worsened my symptoms, so I stopped taking them.

At this stage, with the progressive worsening, I decided to start wearing musician’s earplugs when going out and about. I thought that it would help. Sadly, I had sustained too much damage already and the low amount of protection they offered was insufficient to prevent further worsening. My ears continued to become aggravated by more and more things.

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Travis volunteering at My Possibilities.

In early April, I was talked into going to a music festival against my better judgment. This was a huge mistake. I wore hearing protection the whole time, but this event worsened me so much that I really began to struggle to get by on a daily basis. At the end of the month, I went to a TMJ clinic in hopes of getting some relief, since I had read that many people were citing jaw issues as a factor contributing to their tinnitus severity. At the appointment, they did a low level laser therapy session on my jaw, ears, and surrounding areas. On my way home from the session, my hyperacusis became even more sensitive and my tinnitus turned extremely reactive to any sound input. This combination brought my tinnitus volume to new heights. From that day forward, I have been homebound and unable to tolerate any sound without it aggravating my symptoms. The hyperacusis sensitivity and tinnitus reactivity caused me to lose all of my coping mechanisms. I can no longer tolerate music at any level, I can’t exercise without irritating my ears, and I’m unable to work. Now all I do all day is try to find the most silence I possibly can.

In May, I was given a benzodiazepine. My doctor said it could help me cope with my tinnitus and anxiety over my suffering. While it did help some at first, I quickly developed tolerance to it and began experiencing tolerance withdrawal. My symptoms began to worsen between doses. I decided to taper off the drug and that process further aggravated things. I now have what I consider to be an unlivable level of hyperacusis and tinnitus. I even tried reinstating the benzodiazepine at a higher dose and it didn’t provide any relief. Since then, I have desperately scoured the internet and tried a plethora of treatments, but have yet to find any relief. I only seem to get worse as time goes by.

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Planting trees with Retreet.

Up to August 2021, I had a wonderful life. I was an insurance adjuster on a catastrophic storm team that chased storms. I loved my job because it was adventurous and I was able to help people. I also did volunteer work for non-profits, like helping Retreet replant trees after a wildfire, and helping provide college style courses for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at My Possibilities. In my day-to-day life, I would go out of my way to help people if I saw them in need. I was a social butterfly, always the life of the party. I loved to travel and had dreams of seeing the world and starting a family. These conditions have taken everything away from me.

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Travis today in isolation.

Now, I’m not even able to work or take care of my household anymore. I can’t help myself, much less help others. I can’t fraternize with anyone outside of text messaging or social media anymore. I can’t tolerate any sounds; all of them feel like they’re attacking me and raise my tinnitus. There is seemingly no limit to how loud it can get. It keeps getting louder. My tolerance levels to sound are so low that the nerves—or whatever’s damaged—don’t allow me to take any noise in. I can’t even shower. To remedy that, I came up with an alternative method of bathing, where I drip water on me and use a washcloth with soap, but it still worsens my symptoms because the process produces sound. It’s truly a nightmarish situation that I’m in. Sound is everywhere in life and there’s no way to avoid it. With every exposure, I’m worsening more and more. My life presently consists of constant isolation in a rural house that a friend is letting me stay in, so I can avoid noise as much as possible. I try to explain my situation to people and most can’t understand. It’s such a crazy thing, you know? Who would’ve thought that such a thing could happen? I never knew that ears could do this—no one warns us about this.

Please help raise awareness for these afflictions. We need people to understand the true nature of these conditions to combat medical and societal gaslighting that’s thrown on sufferers. I’ve spread the word everywhere I can on my social media and raised over $1,000 for the cause. We desperately need real treatments for these ruinous conditions. There are many of us lost in the shadows, hoping one day to see the light and regain some semblance of a normal life.

Love y’all,

Travis Scott Henry

14 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Travis, thanks for sharing your story. As someone with tinnitus and hyperacusis I understand how mortifying these afflictions are.

    It all seems so surreal. I am sure you are in a state of constant disbelief about how things pannned out. I am!
    Who the hell invented such torture? Why don't we intuitively stay away from loud noise? Why aren't we made aware of the real harm medicines can do to our ears? It seems nobody thinks about their ears until it's too late.

    I really hope your situation improves so you can get some relief.

    Reply
  3. Adven Villa

    Stay strong man! If we get through this then we can get through anything. Just know you’re not alone! Take care.

    Reply
    • Rahel

      As someone with perfect ears and no Idea how it is to be in such a situation, i fell to my knees to pray, crying.
      Love and understanding for you so unnecessarily tortured wonderful human being..

      Reply
      • Travis

        I love you and everyone so much.

        Reply
        • Dana Hall

          Travis, this is me. I am so heartbroken about what you go through on a daily basis. Thank you for always trying to bring awareness, push for treatment options & help others who suffer by telling your story. Please do not give up; cures are coming through gene therapy. Honored to be your friend!!

          Reply
  4. Travis

    I fought as long as I could. Tinnitus has no limit to how loud it can ring and how many tones it can bring. All sounds attack and cause pain and my brain is ringing beyond insane levels. My family threw me in a mental ward for sound sensitivity cause they are narcissist and been killing me and down playing my pains all my life and allowed my brother to abuse me and my family all my life.. as a Highly sentimental sensitive person that gaslighting and mind games they have played me with all my life and my brother telling me to kill myself many many times and my Mother and Father not doing anything about it have definitely been the main cause of all my problems.. Staying near a violent and vile family and them pushing me to poison all my life and insomina and lack of self worth and not respecting any of my boundaries and turning me into a people pleaser….100 percent was my down fall. I never got to be me. I am a amazing person inside and out and instead of seeing my truth, beauty, love and light as a vital asset to the family they saw it as a threat. Pure Narcissist evil is why so many of us wound up with these conditions. I would of been married and had kids and far away from all the poisons they pushed me too had i got instilled with confidence, freedom and independence and protected as a child, teen and young adult. I am sadden I fought for truth in a family that so readily denies it and hides from it and lets their oldest child destroy all the love and light the family had.

    Reply
  5. Travis

    With all due respect to your lack of understanding and inability to read words and implement fully what they mean in your mind with imagination…what you linked is Poppy cock. Absolutely gaslighting bullshit.

    “The problem with tinnitus is not the sound of the tinnitus. The problem is how the body and the mind are reacting to the sound of the tinnitus. While we can’t change the sound of the tinnitus, we can, through mindfulness training, alter the way our body and mind respond to the sound of tinnitus.”

    No the problem is with how bad the system can be damaged and the lack of damage control protocol by doctors and loved ones thinking tinnitus is no big deal…when auditory damage has no limit to how bad it can be. If someone tells you they had bad tinnitus from a recent noise exposure and its not stable and scarying them because of how loud it is, they need at the very least to prescribe to stay in quiet and not do anything to make tinnitus worse as they have lowered sound tolerance and that is why tinnitus is reacting to sound.

    A immediate steroid injection to ears is best bet to reducing the inflamation and damage done to what had caused tinnitus to flare up.

    Tinnitus, hyperacusis and noxacusis have no limit to how bad it can torture you and have you homebound hiding from all sounds. All sounds can become damaging.

    I was blasted by my father( who supposedly has bad tinnitus i find out after i get mine) in a 12×12 room with his band that played entirely too loud for way to long…. yet my parents still couldn’t believe in hyperacusis for me and sound sensitivity when they and doctors all pushed me to keep going and exposing to sounds with no rest until I became homebound by the ever lowering sound tolerance because no one takes tinnitus inflammation damage seriously and told me to stay off the internet and avoid the horror stories where I could of found life saving advice to go to quiet asap and live in my new parameters of life to avoid worsening and death. The horror stories need to be told first thing so people don’t become one !!!! Plus so these uneducated people know and there is more awareness to keep people from falling in this trap.
    Tinnitus has no limit!!!! Tinnitus can kill. It’s like any other body part. Auditory damage…. It has no limit to how bad it can be damaged and torture you to death.

    Just like if I had a vice grip clamped your foot twisting it constantly giving you pain every second of the day … youd want it to end anyway possible. Auditory damage can get that bad. Kent Taylor road house Millionaire isn’t here anymore souly because of how bad tinnitus can get. Especially with vaccines involved. If he got told to stay in quiet and avoid all medications when he first got tinnitus , he’d still be here. But he got gaslighted also.

    Reply
  6. John kelly

    I see your still going at people. Mindfullness hea!ing lol

    Reply
    • Dana Hall

      My friend Travis and others who suffer from the unceasing torture of this poorly understood condition do have many people who empathize & want to help. You’ve just shown to all who do care that there is something terribly wrong with you. Try harder; love higher.

      Reply
    • Jake

      If you are preaching mindfulness about tinnitus.. you aint got jack shit. It’s obvious this dude has significant damage. The lack of awareness of how bad it can get..even by other people with Tinnitus is astounding.

      Reply
  7. Tracey

    Hi Travis, I also have severe pain hyperacusis. I developed the condition after receiving an injection of 300 units of Botox in a medical operation. Note that it was not cosmetic, but Medical hence the high dose. The Botox did something to my central nervous system and subsequently 2 loud music exposures – one for a minute and one for 25 minutes brought me to severe pain hyperacusis.

    I wanted to tell you, because it’s a similar mechanism to yours, and no doubt you suffered neurological damage from the vaccine which set the scene for subsequent loud music noise exposure to produce hyperacusis. It has been suggested to me To take nortriptyline, I’m working up the courage to take it, but I’m not that keen.

    Reply
    • T

      Don’t take any meds

      Reply

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