To test if I'm suitable for the treatment I talked about in entry 1, and the only in-person appointment I'd need, I would have to have a hearing test.
I've only ever had a hearing test when I was a kid and I do remember even then they mentioned there was some slight loss. Hearing is important to the The Lenire System treatment because it plays audio to help rewire the brain, so if I have hearing damage, I won't be suitable.
Aside from being tricky to find a place to do an "Otoscopy" - look inside my ear, once it was booked it was fairly straight forward with appropriate covid19 measures in place.
The clinician (or doctor, I forgot to ask) examined my ear drums and they were in tip top shape apparently. That's good.
Then off to the booth for the sound tests. The short version is my hearing is exactly as I expected it to be: generally fine with some loss right up in the 8khz range. Though I'm not 100% sure if it's loss as my tinnitus runs pretty much at that frequency and it's hard to separate the sounds out.
Here's how I did:
I can follow the line charts, just, but no real understanding what the bottom table explains, or what the letters are in the chart. I'll get around to looking it up properly one day.
Managing daily noise
Part of living with tinnitus for as long as I have, and those with tinnitus might also recognise this: I'm constantly holding the ringing at bay.
It's always there, goading me, trying to dominate my attention, and if effective, drive me to a total loss. As so, there's a mental process of constantly keeping the tinnitus at arm's reach. I sometimes imagine the bigger kid with their arm outstretched and palm against the forehead of the smaller kid who's swinging their arms.
I can manage to keep the tinnitus at arm's reach, but it is a constant task. However, since opening the door to potential hope, it feels like I've lost my grip, or it's louder, or I'm thinking about my tinnitus more.
So much so that the last couple of mornings I've woken up at 5am and the sheer noise in my head kept me awake, because it's a vicious cycle of: tinnitus keeps me awake, I become more tired, tiredness fuels tinnitus and repeat.
The effect: missing words, "pardon" and "sorry?"
Even though my hearing test was fairly good and ear drums were clean and healthy, I still miss what people, particularly my kids, say. I can hear them speaking and I can hear the bumps and formations of the sound wave, but those sounds are competing with the sound and amplitude of my tinnitus.
The result is that often I'm having to reconstruct the middle part of a sentence when I'm spoken to. I'm taking the context of the conversation (or whatever the kids are doing) and trying to quickly match up something that fits those sounds.
The kids vocal range is at a higher frequency than adults I speak to, which is closer to the frequency of sounds in my head so I miss slightly more. Equally, if the kids try to whisper to me first thing in the morning, my tinnitus is worse and honestly I can't make out a single word. I'm not deaf, I'm just being pummeled by noises - which has the same outcome.
I hate having to say "pardon" or "sorry?" (the British version of pardon 🤦) and after requesting a repeat a few times in a row, I have to stop and hope I can guess a suitable answer.
This is magnitudes worse in social situations (not that the pandemic has allowed for that), but I'd find in pubs or busy locations, I'd need to angel my ear towards the speaker and focus hard to catch everything. I know I'm not alone but it still sucks that I'm useless in these situations.
First punch to the gut
Now that I've got the hearing test I can move to the next part of the Lenire appointments, but upon sending the hearing profile I got this reply:
Your Audiogram is slightly out of range at one point (8KHz) for Lenire, [...]The team is happy to proceed with an assessment and discuss Lenire as a treatment option for you, as your hearing loss is only slightly outside of our fitting range for Lenire.
I realised I had already starting to pin some real hope into this treatment because when I read this, even though they said we'd still proceed, I can now see the possibility of it not working for me.
So we'll see. I have my next appointment tomorrow online and I'll find out more about what options there are.