September 26, 2011


i've had a sudden return of severe hyperacusis over the past several weeks. 

hyperacusis is a fancy medical term for sound sensitivity. wikipedia defines it as, 

"a health condition characterized by an over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges of sound (a collapsed tolerance to normal environmental sound). A person with severe hyperacusis has difficulty tolerating everyday sounds, some of which may seem unpleasantly loud to that person but not to others."

really using the term "over-sensitivity" or "unpleasantly loud" sounds so, well, nominal in comparison to what it is really like to live with this phenom. we're not talking a little irritation one experiences when some kid in a restaurant throws a tantrum or chills that run up the spine from finger nails being dragged down a chalk board or the irritating sound of the drip-drip-drip of a leaky faucet. albeit those are certain to make nearly every one cringe.
rather, hyperacusis is a barbarically heightened sensitivity to normal every day sounds...and it elicits such profound reaction of the nervous system that it can be a virtually paralyzing symptom to live with.

paper crinkling
glassware tinkling
keys on a key chain
clanking cutlery
clickety clack of shoes on the sidewalk
the droning buzz of more than one person speaking at the same time

those sounds incite panic attacks, leave me in tears, or on the verge of hysterical rages, they make my heart race, pulse pound, head spin, send pin prick sensations hurtling down my extremities and leave me curled up in a fetal position, the ordinary and mundane incite a riot in my head and leave me feeling like i'm gonna-lose-my-freaking-mind-if-that-doesn't-stop-right-now...

but those sounds are the very vibrations to which life hums along. they are the common place, every day sort of gotta do to live sorta sounds which means i'm at odds with the world around me all the time. i live with earplugs in and in order to get thru the day, i must make frequent retreats to the quiet, dark prison of my bedroom... and that's on a day when my hyperacusis is relatively mild. on a bad day, i'm holed up in my room, blinds drawn, windows closed, ear plugs in, pillows cushioning ears, covers over head, and a fan on (white noise to drown out any other noise) but it has to be free standing fan - the fans in bathrooms? those drive me insane! 

it is a miserable way to live
it is miserable for my whole family to live with.

the cutlery thing has been by far the most intolerable. i do my best to get out of ear shot the minute any one needs anything to eat. which means i spend most supper times cringing and sweating in my bedroom.

last week, it got so bad, i literally thought i would lose my mind. graham was down stairs emptying the dishwasher. i, of course, had to be upstairs, at the opposite end of the house, in our bedroom with earplugs in, fan on, door shut, etc. etc. etc.
i could still hear the clinking of the plates and the clanging of the cutlery.
he was unloading the dishwasher as QUIETLY as humanly possible yet 
it doesn't matter
super sonic boom
he may as well have put a plate on my head and scraped a fork across it

that's how loud and shrill it sounded to me

i tried pushing thru, sweating it out, deep breathing
it was just way too much
it's as if the utensils were doing the tango and my eardrum was the dance floor

finally i burst forth from the bedroom, wailing and hyperventilating and shrieking and shaking and pathetically pleading,

"stop. STOP. STOP. STOP."

the pinacle of hearing horror.

most women would be over the moon if their husband helped with the dishes.
here i am screaming, begging, pleading for mine to stop.
twisted world this is.

after that, it was decided, 
my sanity over rides responsible consumerism
my mental health edges out eco-consciousness
until further notice,
this house will be fine dining with royal chinet and plastic utensils

peace of mind comes at a price

1 comment:

Lynnelle said...

I know exactly where you are right now. I was that way about a year ago, and this post has helped me realize just how far I've come with this symptom. Thankfully I am doing much better with it. Unfortunately, I think it is due to hearing loss.

I had/have severe insomnia so I I always did and often still do try to sleep while the people in the house are eating.

I couldn't stand the sound of people quietly walking around the house. Or my sister humming quietly in the other end of the house.

Also, another thing, I can NOT handle having somebody looking at my face, but most my ears, and talking. even though I am loosing my hearing now, I still have to have people look away, because it feels so horrible!

I will pray for you, that this would let up a little and that God will touch your nervous system and grant you healing!