Continuing my short diary of tinnitus treatment using the Lenire device (entry 1, 2, 3), I'm now at the 6 week mark.
The entire treatment period is 12 weeks, and at this point in time, I have a consultant appointment to ask how I'm getting on, and then to return the device for an adjustment and then it's sent back for me to continue the next 6 weeks.
So, how have I been getting on?
The short answer is not great. In fact, bad. I was warned that my tinnitus could seem worse during treatment but was assured it will, at least, return to it's base level, both by the Lenire consultants and the people on the tinnitus forums.
However, thus far this hasn't been the case for me. My tinnitus is currently at a high level, loud enough to take my focus and exhaust my concentration. Loud enough that, at the moment, if I don't have a decent line of sight to the person speaking, I can't fully understand what they've said.
Worse still, is that there's been no relief at all. It's been the same high level all day, all night. So when I wake up, as I usually do, around 5am, typically I'd expect to go back to sleep again. Except now the ringing is so loud it keeps me awake.
So then I'm tired from not being able to get a good night sleep, so my tinnitus has more fuel which makes it hard to focus, which leads to hard to sleep and repeat and repeat and… you get the idea.
I feel incredibly tired at the moment, and I only really start to perk up around 4pm which leaves me wanting more of my day so I've been going to bed later (11-12am, but no later) which all leads to a vicious cycle.
I'm fairly confident in saying that the Lenire hasn't caused any hearing damage, but my brain definitely isn't behaving the way I had hoped and the Lenire people would have expected.
Having now had my 6 week consultation and passed along this, I guess, "discomfort" - when in reality it's like a god damn prison of noise - the consultant decided it was best to take a break from the treatment for a week to make sure that my levels at least return to "normal".
During that time, the device is being sent back to Ireland (where their offices are) for adjustment. Previous the audio that I listen to and the tongue stimulation was in sync, as specific moments in the audio, the tongue-tip would stimulate my tongue in rhythm.
The adjustment being made will take the tongue-tip out of sync. I can understand the thinking here. It's similar, I think, to physical training. If you do the exact same routine all the time, you body gets used to the process and no long makes any progress. So you mix it up, "surprising" your muscles with new behaviour, to trick it into reacting again.
So that's where I'm at. So far, it's having no positive impact, and in fact in my case, I'm having a negative experience. That's a rather diplomatic way of saying that I can't escape this torturous sound and I'm trying to hold back the fear that I'm getting a preview of actually being deaf, or very hard of hearing. I'm just trying to see this therapy through.
There's also things I can do that will help regardless: go to bed earlier (I've heard that a lot lately) and I need to do some kind of exercise - anything to help the blood move to my brain.
For now, I'm hoping the next few days the ringing goes down a little, if only for a tiny bit of time. Then I'll be resuming treatment (probably) next Wednesday for a further 6 weeks.