Seeking The Sounds Of Silence

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For more than the past eight months, I’ve been unable to hear nothing.

Yes, I meant that exactly the way I wrote it — for more than the past eight months, I have been unable to hear silence.

More than eight months ago, I noticed that even when I was surrounded by silence, I still heard a constant sibilance in both ears — very similar to the extremely high-frequency sound that old analog TV sets make.

But a lot louder — like several old TV sets in the same room.

In fact, it got even louder over time.

It got so loud that I couldn’t ignore it any more.

Then it got so loud that it made it difficult to hear the TV set — and normal conversations became torturous exercises in trying to understand what the other person was saying over the loud hissing sound in my head.

Then it got to be as loud as the TV.

It eventually got so loud that when I would mow the lawn, wearing earplugs, the hissing inside my earplugs was as loud as the lawn mower outside of them.

The constant sound made it hard for me to sleep at night, and very difficult for me to concentrate on my work — it was like someone was whispering loudly into both of my ears all of the time.

It was more than annoying — it was a serious distraction, 24/7.

I did several Google searches for “tinnitis,” but all I really learned was that many different things can cause it (including a brain tumor), and no one really knows how to cure it.

In addition to the sound in my head, I started feeling tired all of the time. Even right after I woke up in the morning, I felt like I could go right back to sleep, and by the end of each day, I felt exhausted, even if I had taken a nap in the middle of the afternoon.

Then one day, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I was feeling a little dizzy, and my left nasal sinus was pretty painful.

Recognizing the symptoms of a sinus infection, I began to take some decongestant, wash out my sinuses with saline solution, and massage the nerves that affect my sinuses — the one in my left eye socket, next to my nose, and the one that goes from my left temple back toward my ear.

But the dizziness and sinus pain continued.

A few days later, while massaging my left temple, the tinnitis sound suddenly changed. It changed so suddenly that I couldn’t tell exactly how it had changed, but I could tell that it was a little less noticeable. I think maybe it had suddenly lost some of it treble and had become a little more of a rushing sound instead of a hissing sound.

That made me wonder if maybe the sound that I had been hearing might have been caused by a more-than-eight-month-long sinus infection.

So, for the past ten days, I’ve been “working on” my sinuses — rinsing them, and massaging the nerves on the sides of the bridge of my nose with a big, baseball-shaped vibrating massager, making myself sneeze over and over, to help loosen the “plug” of infection in my left sinus.

At first, my left sinus was very “angry” that I was messing with it. For two days, its pressure increased, it became sharply painful, and it felt very “raw.”

I was really relieved when the “raw” feeling and sharp pain finally subsided — even though the “normal” pain from the sinus pressure continued, along with the hissing sound.

Then, two days ago, I finally had a breakthrough. Using all of the techniques described above, I was able to get my left sinus to partially drain.

Even better, within an hour or two, the constant sibilance in my head reduced significantly.

That confirmed my suspicion — the tinnitus had been caused by a more-than-eight-month-long sinus infection!

That infection must have gotten really bad over all those months, because it looks like, even after all the work I’ve done so far, it’s going to take several more days to get my sinuses completely unblocked and uninfected.

Even today, I still feel some of the characteristic pressure that tells me that my left sinus is partially blocked.

But at least I don’t feel dizzy any more, I don’t feel exhausted any more, and I can mostly ignore the vestiges of that once-horrible tinnitis.

So I’m hopeful that, in a few more days, my left sinus will finally be completely clear.

And maybe I’ll finally be able to hear nothing again.

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