by J. D. Rider
The cruelest fate on planet Earth is excommunication, the state of not belonging; to lose your life and more — your place of residence. And sadly, it can happen. In a noxacusis hell-hole, you’re ditched by planet Earth, as if the world marked you, or the universe itself, waging war with savage mortars, every sound attacking; noise as the mortars, the enemy combatant. You plead with God and Mother Earth, asking for remission, but armies with artillery invade and conquer life. Sound — a cosmic nightmare, deep inside the framework — is so ingrained in every task, it rules the atmosphere. It’s a hallmark feature of existence, crucial to your sentience and part of this creation, but not through man alone — it’s fueled by nature, too; the countryside, wildlife, environment, and more. When noxacusis comes (in a catastrophic state), it mars your life so violently, beyond recognition, forcing you to isolate, avoiding every sound … ’cause if you don’t, you’ll feel pain; you’ll worsen more and more. From home, your own abode, you see the hell, the devastation, the seismic obliteration. The world, once-benign, is now a place of horrors. And you’re trapped inside for life, watching from afar. As a lonely prisoner, your fate is now secure, where a chasm of catastrophe will haunt you day and night … until you die a natural death.
If you were deaf and couldn’t hear, you’d still have peace and concord (from an existential stance), but not with noxacusis, where every sound is kryptonite, causing endless pain. For Superman, the hero, it’s a toxic ordinance, stripping him with radiation, poisoning his body. That rock disrupts his molecules as soon as contact’s made. With noxacusis, though, noise is the glowing rock that pummels you with violence. A wave of pain attacks your ears with horrifying power: sharp stabs incessantly, thumping so maniacally; or razor-wire instruments dragging through and through. It stops you in your tracks and makes you powerless, as you question the audacity of such a brutal foe — how it can thrive and coexist with such a special world. The threshold for your tolerance is lower than the norm. Healthy people feel pain when a sound is super loud, like 120 dB, and it’s often instantaneous, with stabbing, burning, awful throbbing, or a full, dull sensation. In contrast, you — a person with extreme noxacusis — feel those same sensations to almost every noise, even tiny ones. In many ways, the soundwaves of your world are 3-dimensional, felt from deep within. So the feat of all feats is surviving, learning how to live with such a huge aggressor.
But this disease is futile, plagued by nonconformity, which makes it hard to fathom; the way it comes and manifests in different shapes and sizes, where some are mild, some severe, or even catastrophic; where some have pain with noxacusis or loudness hyperacusis, and a wide array of symptoms. There’s damage in the body — that’s a fact or given. The exact culprit, however, is still debated highly. It has no laws or limits, no blatant barriers, and more or less, anything is possible. The origins of this strange disease leave mysteries unresolved, as the stats are very odd. For example, a million people can do the same things in life and only 10 get noxacusis — 4 mild, 2 moderate, 2 severe, and 2 catastrophic — and the other 999,990 get nothing. Ten thousand people can attend a concert and perhaps all but 1 walk away unscathed. And maybe, they all walk away fine. It’s truly baffling.
So it stands to reason that a strong piece of the puzzle is still missing. Perhaps it’s genes or other things aiding in the process, like cofactors. Everyone’s unique, though, every story different. Some believe it’s a degenerative nerve disease, where the type II afferents play a vital role. The cochlea is so small and so hard to study. The whole ear is. It’s a complex organ and we haven’t cracked how it all works, especially when it breaks or doesn’t work. The ear is so intricate that it’s like a timepiece — a Greubel Forsey with 935 parts. If something breaks, even one part, it makes the watch a lemon. With watches, though, we have expert watchmakers to solve the issue or figure it out. But for ear problems like noxacusis, experts are a rarity. And really, they’re so rare that true, definitive experts don’t exist. Knowledge is still in its infancy when it comes to these conditions. So at the end of the day, a labyrinth of mysteries is unavoidable, eluding our progression. We only know the basics. We can only guess. It’s a nightmare to navigate these problems, as your watch is spinning in all directions or saying something’s wrong. And though it looks like six o’clock, it might be eight o’clock. It might be night instead of day, p.m. / a.m. misconstrued. Sometimes, the dial lies and you can’t trust it. You think something’s true or safe, but it’s not. It’s a trial-and-error process to determine what’s responsible for all your awful symptoms, and stuff that makes them worse. No 2 people are alike. There are so many factors to consider.
What helps one person may hurt another. With noxacusis, there are countless stories of person 1 doing X to improve their symptoms and person 2 doing X, too, but with tragic results, making their illness permanently worse. But nonetheless, it devastates your life and you’re fighting to survive. Think about it … what if your survival (your health and everything) were hanging on a paradox — avoiding every sound? That is noxacusis, the catastrophic kind, where noise is your enemy, a force that you resent. To be clear, the text within this post is not hyperbole. If anything, it’s an understatement. Having noxacusis — in any shape or form — is truly unrelenting, especially when it’s catastrophic. It’s vile and absurd; so crazy, in fact, that it made The Twilight Zone.
In 1964, Rod Serling — the anthology show’s creator — penned an episode that resembled noxacusis, titled “Sounds and Silences.” The plot? A man goes mad when every sound is painful and deafening. Serling, I’m guessing, was unaware that such a thing could happen in real life, as the series took refuge in fantasy alone, not the realm of fact or logic, and was also drenched in creepiness; the horror genre. So it just goes to show how crazy this disease is, that he — a master storyteller — envisioned noxacusis as a formidable foe in a world of disaster, a nightmare worthy of The Twilight Zone.
In each episode, unfortunate souls are stripped and challenged to the umpteenth power, tortured by infernal regions, themes of imposition, and scary attributes. Be it pain, peril, or worst-case scenarios, the show is merciless, leaving characters and viewers alike in strange, unsettling situations. And often, the victims face a mind-bending paradox that renders life impossible, much like “Sounds and Silences.” When watching the episode, it’s wild to see art imitate life for the victim. He goes to a doctor for help, only to be turned away with disbelief and directed to a psychologist. Everyone with noxacusis has lived that very story — that humiliation or blatant ignorance from doctors, and often ENTs — so I guess it’s like The Twilight Zone, a tough pill to swallow.
As Serling said himself, “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call ‘The Twilight Zone.’” So by sheer coincidence, Serling vouched for the horrors of noxacusis as he televised the deepest pits a man could ever face, the most hellish of worlds.
For those affected, yes, it’s hell and more — a vile horrorfest, making life impossible and making Earth a monster. It swallows almost everything, except the fact you’re breathing, and makes you weak and powerless, fighting for control, as there’s nothing you can do; no treatments or a cure; no fancy way to zig or zag, or dodge the evil beast. It’s got you by the balls. It doesn’t let you live or die — it locks you up for torture. In every single way, it decimates your life, as noise is too prominent. But far beyond this tragedy lies a deeper truth: if every human, every soul, were privy to the knowledge, the dangers of it happening with sound abuse or medications, it likely wouldn’t happen. Precautions could prevent it, but the average Joe and average Jane have no idea it’s real, this evil noxacusis. Like an all-consuming curse, it’s the grand exception of existence; the asterisk and warning; the fine print that’s hard to see, hiding at the bottom. If only we had read it, knowing all the side effects that life could conjure up, maybe Earth would be okay. But now it’s not at all. It’s inhospitable, blocking your ability to have a peaceful life. That is noxacusis, where Heaven becomes Hell.
It’s so bad, you’re like a helpless child that’s abandoned, left on a doorstep, rejected by your mom or dad, a traitor in disguise; a baby who’s been sacrificed — birthed, loved, and then denied through an act of pure betrayal. You’re scorned by Mother Earth and have no residence, no place where you belong. You lose your hope and precious dreams — to have your life and home again. But the paradox is powerful and nothing can be done. You face a rite of passage, the worst kind you’d ever face in a hostile universe: excommunication. Like a strange anomaly, you don’t belong to anyone except the God above, but His universe revoked you, reneging your inclusion. It’s tragic beyond words.
You’re stuck in fight-or-flight. You’re swayed by strong depression. The guilt that comes with noxacusis makes it even worse. You know you could’ve stopped it, avoiding sound or medication, nipping it from blooming. It’s not like other ailments who come as random thieves — you know that you’re responsible, which makes it even worse. You robbed yourself so tragically and accidentally. Had you only been more careful with your ears … that’s the thought that haunts you. But you plead that you were innocent or ignorant at best, as most people are, but mercy doesn’t come. It doesn’t offer second chances and has no sympathy. And now there’s no solution, which leaves you in the dust, weeping with anxiety. You’re forced to live with your abuser, to coexist in agony and try to make it work, but it renders life impossible since sound is everywhere. You’re like a human stuck on Mars without the means to live. The Earth is dead; frozen stiff; sad and desolate. To you, it resembles the red planet more than it does Earth, the blue-green paradise that gave you everything, but took it all away. Now it’s like a barren desert, lifeless in a void.
You feel so responsible and blame yourself wholeheartedly. You’re thinking like a human, though (someone traumatized), but anyone who’s facing this would feel that way, too. It’s not a strong reaction, no — that tough despondency. It’s just psychology, mourning life or coping hard with a loss that’s insurmountable. And anyone who’s jettisoned — or damned from this existence — would have the same reaction. That’s just the way it is. People blessed with healthy ears have a hard time understanding. Sound is not their enemy, so friction doesn’t happen. With noxacusis, though, they’d quickly realize how violent it can be. Sound is everywhere. Like shadows casted east to west, there’s no way to avoid it, not with normal living. But when noxacusis strikes (in a catastrophic form), it’s wild: you’re healthy as an ox, but 2 pea-sized organs or tiny nerves, smaller than grains of salt even, render life impossible.
Often, noxacusis is joined by another foe, tinnitus, and that makes it even worse, especially when it’s severe, reactive tinnitus. Together, they’re uniquely diabolical because they’re multifaceted. Unlike most diseases, you’re facing a problem that’s two-fold: internal and external; inside, outside; your body and the world. It goes without saying that it’s rare. Planet Earth, once a gem, is now a hellish landscape, ruined by your ears. Usually, a disease is 1-dimensional, plaguing you internally as something wrong inside the body. With noxacusis, though, your environment itself — what’s going on outside the body — is just as pertinent. It’s a 2-D experience. Why? Because to you, sound is kryptonite, causing harm and damage.
Your internal struggle, tinnitus, tortures you from inward. Your external struggle, noxacusis, tortures you from outward. And sometimes, both are inward and outward, especially when reactive. Exposure to any sound can worsen both, even permanently. For some, it reduces their quality-of-life to 1% … literally. They have to hide from every sound. They’re evicted from this planet, a sacred bond revoked: belonging here; fitting-in; living free with harmony. With most diseases, they won’t strip you of your citizenship on Earth, but the combination of severe tinnitus and noxacusis will.
But no one would believe that, not willingly. They’d have to see it for themselves — a world of disparity, where sound is weaponized; a world of detention, where every day is prison-like; and a world full of shattered hopes, where every dream is out of reach, the simple and the big. You’re stuck at home, fully tortured, and yearn to live again, but life is too suppressed. Like the flames of time extinguished, you lose your life and more — your place on planet Earth. Like a ruthless parasite, a cancer that destroys you, or an illness of degeneration, it swallows each and every morsel until there’s nothing left. Sure, you’re still alive (somewhat). Yes, you’re here and breathing. But beyond that, there’s little left … only suffocation, well beyond debilitation. And it won’t kill you … ever. It doesn’t have that power. So you brace for endless suffering that has no end in sight.
As you draw and expel each breath, wondering how your ears could make you so ill — poles apart from past to present — you realize you’re doomed, that your world is destroyed. You wonder if you’re dead, if this is really Hell. You fret about the future, fearing for the worst. Your world is impossible and won’t let you live. It’s a catastrophic wasteland, sad, bleak, and blurry; a house in tatters, ruinous, black and rotting away; a sick and evil paradox, making sound your enemy; a strong distortion of creation, squashing it so thoroughly. You dream about a broken past and wonder how you got here. It’s a vicious cycle of remorse that offers no solutions.
And frequently, there’s no escape and no relief, even in your home. Your house should be a safe haven, no matter the sickness. But with noxacusis, often it’s not. When neighbors are rowdy or cut grass all day, it affects you. When birds and owls sing and hoot, it matters. You can’t even have visitors or people dropping by, as noise is a no-no, so you’re at the world’s mercy. Sometimes, you have to drop everything and change your whole day when noise is intruding. You have to move to a different part of the house or wear more protection. To you, the world’s a big, ferocious monster. Tinnitus and noxacusis torture you internally — with piercing tones and waves of static, loud, 24/7 — and torture you externally as you’re pummeled by and by … by noise in a toxic world where sound is super deadly.
People are loud, oblivious. It’s not their fault, obviously. This is their world, not yours anymore. You’re basically an alien now. And sadly, you’re the intruder, not them. They’re just living their lives. But they make your symptoms worse by causing so much noise. So your life revolves around them, their choices. You have no control. What’s going on around you is critical, of the utmost importance. And some are forced to isolate and never leave their home. Some are too disabled. People like that, they’re living in closets and windowless rooms daily, wearing ear protection. If they don’t, they’ll keep worsening more and more. That’s how bad they are. But even then, they’re still in pain from every sound, even with protection. It’s pure horror — the purest of pure — and consequently, the suicide rates are high. We need to raise awareness and lobby for a cure. Until then, it’s man or woman against the world. You’re truly on your own. And this rare disease that’s profoundly resistant to simple explanations will continue to elude us. Without proper research and aid from the medical field, it’s hard to figure out. As horrid and tragic as noxacusis is, it gets next-to-nothing in funding for research and treatments, which is somewhat disquieting given the suicide rates. But since it’s rare, it doesn’t garner the attention it should. Nonetheless, that’s something that needs to change. And we can only hope that someday, at some point, it will. With innovative treatments or medications, defeating this disease would be more feasible, or provide a way to improve the quality-of-life for those who suffer greatly. And then, maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t be paralyzed by sound. That’s the hope. That’s the dream.
Author: J. D. Rider