Living With Tinnitus

Imagine hearing a low hum constantly. Even in an empty room where there is complete silence.  This is the lower end of the tinnitus spectrum. A constant, almost unnoticeable hum. That never goes away.

Now imagine what I can only describe as having a jet engine’s high pitched whine in one, the other, or both ears. Or, maybe, a tornado. Although this is not an accurate description, it is as close as I can get.

Now imagine going through this on a daily basis at varying degrees. Most days could be at the low end of the spectrum, but the high end could strike at any moment, caused by any sound…or just the wind blowing in your ear. Or nothing at all. Onset can be heralded by a sudden case of vertigo or even a sudden loss of balance for no apparent reason.

Tinnitus, by definition, is the excessive vibration in the inner ear, causing a buzzing or humming sound that can only be heard by the sufferer. Even definitions cannot define or describe the attacks accurately. These minimally descriptive definitions mislead the majority of people into believing that tinnitus and its effects are “imagined” by the sufferer, even though it is very real and very devastating and debilitating to the one who suffers from it.

Side effects include vertigo, migraines, and temporary (sometimes for hours) deafness. Of course, all of this depends on the severity of the attack.  At the very least, someone speaking to a person suffering from an attack will seem muffled. At the very worst, the person will not be heard. Some attacks can make the sufferer physically ill or double over in pain. One famous sufferer, Vincent Van Gogh,  even cut off his ear and eventually went insane.

Upon hearing that one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, has come forward and admitted that he also suffers from it and is going deaf has caused me to reflect back on my own experience with this maddening problem. It also reminds me what can cause the problem. Yet, mine was not caused by fantastically loud guitars and concerts. Mine was caused by something much more mundane and yet, much more abusive.

When I was five, I had to have fluid drained from my middle ear. When it was through, I had extremely acute hearing. The doctor did warn my parents that I would probably have occasional bouts of tinnitus, but he thought it would clear up after my ears got used to not being full of fluid.He also warned them that there should be no loud noises or there could be the possibility that there could be nerve damage or permanent tinnitus.

So acute that I could hear a mousetrap being dropped five rooms away! My father, thinking himself clever, delighted in waiting until I was nearby, then dropping a mousetrap just to watch me jump because of the loud noise. And, as the doc had warned, I began suffering tinnitus. At first, it was the low  hum. But as my dad continued to persecute me with the traps, the tinnitus began to rise in pitch and severity.

It reached a peak when I was in my teens. I did not know when it would hit or at what decibel I would be enjoying my next bout.  People thought it was weird that I would lose my balance for what they thought was absolutely no reason (one of the reasons I never went pro as a boxer) or would have to stop and wait for “the colors” to go away so I could see. Some couldn’t even understand the connection between my migraines and my “inner ear problem”.

Over nearly 40 years (I am only three years short of the 40 year mark), I have staggered, lost balance, nearly fallen down stairs, winced in pain, had to cover my ears, had to stop for no apparent reason, or sit down for a few minutes simply because I was hit by a sudden barrage of sound that no one else can hear. I have gotten sick to my stomach, had to go lay down, had to brace myself, and had to suffer through migraines that caused me to vomit. I have had more times than I care to count where I had to embarrass myself and ask someone to repeat themselves because the tinnitus had started up and I did not hear a thing they had said.

I can attest that, at its worst, tinnitus is enough to make the one who suffers from it want to commit suicide. And yes, the thought had crossed my mind a few times about chopping off my ear just to find a little quiet. Both were never truly options to me, though. A buzz is bearable enough to stagger through life with and I can handle having that 747 take off in my ear from time to time as well. And though I don’t feel comfortable with asking people to repeat themselves, I will patiently do so as long as they are as patient with me as I am with them.

I was lucky enough for three and a half years, to be relatively free of much of the worst of my tinnitus. While Kelly was alive, my tinnitus had died down to a barely noticeable hum. The migraines and vertigo were almost nonexistent. I had stability and someone who understood my problems and was patient with me.

Now, my tinnitus is back with a vengeance. And I have nothing. No way to keep it at a minimum. If you remember, I told you at the beginning that tinnitus does not need a trigger. silent rooms can shriek louder than noisy ones. The irony is, with tinnitus, one learns that the old adage “silence is deafening” is very true because in silence, the plague that is that infernal hum of tinnitus can grow to a deafening roar.

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RTZ…Or Not to RTZ

OK, so I returned to the original title. Seems to be a better fit. Take Me Back seemed to fit better as the episode title….Since we are going back in time only to walk forward 80 years through the whole series.  We are now exploring the year 1920. Next up, after this episode, is 1921. Like The Morrow Family Saga, We are covering a huge period of history year by year, rather the daily grind. May actually do a historical fiction series as a daily thing if this takes off. Don’t know yet.

So How did we like the end of the last “scene”? OK, I admit. I am being a very naughty boy. But I have never shied away from sexual content. Ever. I even have a flair for including food in my stories (and plays) for a reason. Food and sex are the two ways to a man’s heart. At least that is what I have been told. Not that I would know. I am one of those men who also knows that food and sex also helps win other hearts…at times.

Pain

I sit here with a migraine, knowing that I have work to do. Pain. My constant companion. It has been there since my childhood. It has been there through my first two marriages. And now, it has returned to haunt me now that my reasons for not focusing on it is gone.

While Kelly was alive, I had been migraine free. I had been nearly pain free. Sure I had a few stomach issues, but those could be tolerated. Sure, I’d had a month of stress pains and panic attacks brought on by a college financial aid department, but I had gotten past that.

But now, the pain, all of it, has returned. With a vengeance.

Happy Holidays

I will try not to be too preachy. I promise. Oh, fuck it. The truth always sounds preachy, especially at a time like this.

As Christmas Eve approaches, I am reminded how blind “Christians” have become. They think a war is being waged against a holiday that has never really had much to do with Christ, except as an attempt to draw Pagans into the faith through creating a fake holiday “to celebrate Christ” even though it was simply a thinly disguised version of the original holiday it was meant to replace.  Modern “Christians” have perceived imagined oppression and persecution as well.

Let me set things straight. The only war against Christianity is one being waged from within. Fake “Gospels”, false teachers, a moving away from Christ by those who claim to follow Him, and a rejection of the true fundamentals of Christianity through the insistence upon the returning to the oppression of the Old Testament–this is the real war against Christianity, not the neglect of “Merry Christmas” when being wished a happy holiday season.

It took me twenty years to realize the true war. It wasn’t until I began waking up from the spiritual stupor I had been in that I was able to see what was really going on. Politics, money, health, and all things physical have replaced spiritual rewards in the hearts of Christians. They have also replaced Christ and God as a center. “For whatever is in your heart, that is your god.”

So, this Christmas season, Let’s stop hating each other and start personifying the pure unconditional love that was Christ. Let’s drop our prejudices and begin trying to understand with an open mind and open heart. Let’s turn away from our selfish pursuits and return to the true fundamentals of Christianity: the words and example of Christ, not Peter, Paul, Moses, John, or James.

Most of all, let’s remember that a real Christian is never offended by anything. They see each and every person who crosses their path as a messenger of what should be fixed in their own hearts, not the hearts of the person before them. Let’s remember that the greatest mission in our lives is not those around us, but rather our own heart and soul.

Let’s remember our true calling: to follow Christ and love all unconditionally. This means that we expect nothing in return for the love we give. I guarantee you that if you love unconditionally, your rewards-in the end-will be far greater.

Let’s stop judging and condemning each other. Let’s quit waving around our Bibles and start actually Reading and understanding them again…and come to realize that the Bible is a guide for the individual believer, not a tool to be used to justify our biases or our hate (hate is anti-christian, not Christian). Let us begin to work on the planks in our own eyes before we look at the motes in the eyes of our brothers. Let’s remember that the measure we use is the measure we will receive when we stand before God and Christ in the end. Our words will either uplift or bind us, bless us or curse us, save us or condemn us.

Finally. let us resolve to begin the year to come in a new walk. Let us turn again to the true fundamentals of that which we profess to believe and cast away the popular worldly  “Gospels” of health, wealth, and happiness not to mention the popular un-Christian desire to return to the Old Testament, which was fulfilled by the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ. Let us resolve to understand that though the information held within the Bible is good and, to a certain extent, right, we must also understand the dynamics and history of the times that everything was written. The epistles were written to answer specific questions that are not relevant today. They were written to churches that were facing unique and-at that time-common problems which we no longer face. Now, the greatest problems we face are from within our own from people who would seek to mislead and destroy…and even to create a world religion that is so distorted that it doesn’t resemble the belief that it derives its name from.

So now, I take my leave and wish you Bonne Noel, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas…and to my non-Christian reader, Happy Holidays/Holy Days.

Hunger

I have always had problems with my stomach. I would (and still do) have times where no matter how much I ate, I still felt hungry. Other times, I barely ate anything at all and felt full. I also have a problem where it takes very little to nauseate me or make me sick. It was this last problem, along with another more serious problem, that led the doctors to discover that my gall bladder had ceased functioning.

The surgery for that took place in 2010, the year before I got divorced from my second wife. After surgery, the attending doctor looked at me and exclaimed “I don’t see how you are still alive!” he went on to explain that my gall bladder had completely died and had been releasing all kinds of toxins into my body in such quantities that would have killed most everyone else in the same situation. Of course, I counted myself lucky and went home to heal.

But the “heartburn”, times of excessive hunger, times of lack of appetite, and the sick spells did not end. Nor did the…other problem. It has since made me wonder what is really wrong with me. It has also made it extremely difficult to hold a job. And most people do not understand.

Lately, the excessive hunger seems most prevalent. I can eat a full meal and still feel hungry. But for me, a full meal is not a large one. It only consists of a meat item and one or two veggies. I try to balance my meals in my own limited way. I will also eat bread, but not very often. If I have toast, I will not fix anything with bread (or potatoes) until dinner. Lunch is usually meat and a veggie.

The doctors can find nothing wrong with me, even though I have voiced my concern. It took them until I was between the ages of 35 and 38 to find out that my gall bladder was dead…and the doctor informed me that they had no idea how long it had been so. He conceded that it very well could have failed when I was still a child or in my teens and had taken that long to manifest itself health wise.

Most days, I don’t feel well. I awaken in pain, so I do not know when something is truly wrong. I have been tested for Diabetes, which is a pre-existing familial illness, but do not have it. I am tested for many other things every time I have a physical or a partial physical, or when I have blood drawn, and everything comes out clean. And still, I watch as my overall health slowly fails.

Please understand that this has been going on for at least the last 20 years. Yes, I used to smoke, but have been smoke free since 2011. Yes, I used to drink, but have been sober since I was 25. I am now 42 going on 43.

I do know that my system was screwed up when I was put on Statins for a triglycerides problem. That was why my current physician prescribed bananas and tonic water, to combat the charliehorses and cramps caused by the damage done to my muscles. I no longer have a problem with the triglycerides, but I have the lasting effects of the medicines used to correct the problem.

But, then, I have slowly begun cleaning up my diet. I eat only organics when I can afford them. I eat very little processed  foods (hot dogs, bologna, etc) or snack foods. I limit my sugar to what I use in my coffee and do not use white sugar. Still, this is not helping.

My stomach is still causing me problems and I have no clue how to fix it. Being unable to take most meds that would be given for such problems, I am stuck. At the same time, I don’t have a clue what is really wrong. All I know is that I have a problem and it’s killing me.

Lofty Expectations

My life is stranger than fiction. I lose a client and gain a client. The problem is that one client is not enough to pay the bills.

So, to gain some equilibrium, I am going to have to take a couple terms off from college to take HRM exams so I ca become certified. I was hoping that I could wait on this but since the last scare with the school’s financial dept.,  I am thinking that I will have to be working at something more substantial than a minimum wage level job in order to be able to hold any hope of actually making any headway.

I had hoped to gain enough work as a ghost and as an editor to keep things afloat, but my original client, the one who had been a mainstay. decided to go on a 50,000 page expedition (he wanted me to write 50,000 pages (?) because “content and number of pages are the key to sales”. While I believe that 50,000 actually meant number of words, he took it to mean 50,000 pages. I warned him that nobody would even WANT to download it, let alone read it…but he thought I was just raining on his parade.

I hope, upon hope, that he will come back…but who knows? In the meantime, I also hope to acquire more clients to meet with my needs. Still, certification would afford me a salaried job rather than a wage. And I am good at HRM.

At the same time, I have ideas going through my head. Not writing ideas, but business-related. Like flood control that doubles as sustainable energy+drinkable water. Or an idea on economic rejuvenation that takes the agricultural lifestyle of the area and turns it into a community based cooperative/collaborative effort to create both jobs and revenue for the area.

Unfortunately, these ideas are at a standstill while I await  answers.   As are the film projects I am trying to write proposals for.

Adding to this is new trouble from my mother. At the beginning of the year, I agreed to save money and buy her old car. When the college messed up on my financial aid, I ended up having to use the money I had already saved so that I could survive after missing out on last month’s stipend check.

Apparently, moms no longer understand how things that can go wrong sometimes DO go wrong. Oh,well. It’s just another Thursday.

The Frustration of Taking a Rest From Writing

So I was looking over the first three books in the Morrow Family Saga: 1950’s and noticed something disturbing. In Hand Me Down World, I started Natalia out at twelve. In Dreams, she is ten or eleven. And in Laughing,  she is yet another age. Apparently, in my writing, my intent to start out with a ten-year-old Natalia was unintentionally ignored and her age misstated.

I am surprised that no one who has taken time to read the serialized books here caught the age mistakes. I guess that the story is good enough that no one notices the discrepancies. That is both surprising and flattering. I suppose that this means that I am doing my job as a writer.

Anyway, the actual chronological age order is as follows:

1950: 10 years

1951: 11 years

1952: 12 years

1953: 13 years.

etc.

At the same time, I am wondering if I should begin at age 9 or keep it according to the original plot.

Either way, this means that I do have to pull the books in order to do a wee bit editing. But that is the only bit I have to do, which is good. Perhaps, after I do the fixes, the books will take off in sales. After all, there is always a reason why things aren’t a sudden success, and sometimes it is something small.