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The End of Silence

The End of Silence

by Paul Bloomquist

Those that know me well know what this is about. Others might think perhaps Paul will reveal some juicy hidden secret. One thing is for sure I am definitely not alone in this. Well God for one is always with me and I have tremendous support from my family. That is definitely true but that is not what I am talking about. I have asked many people if the same is true for them and more times than not the answer is yes. Perhaps not as severe but a definite yes is what I get in response. It is at this point you would like me to come out and say what “it” is? However, please give me some leeway as it is not the easiest thing to talk about. I was surprised at how many people are impacted by this and yet remain silent. It is nothing you can see on the outside other then perhaps an occasional bad mood, some anxiety and perhaps some depression. But not normally to the point where it is noticeable by others. In fact in this one case it seems best if you can get to the point where you can just forget it. Except when you can’t.

I guess I can say what it is like, it is like waking up with a dull headache. Then going through your day smiling and answering the questions on how are you doing? With “good” or “doing well“ or perhaps if someone knew about the headache and asked how’s the headache? Well that is probably the worst question so you answer quickly trying not to think about it lest it rear its ugly head with a vengeance just for thinking about it. Well what if you woke up with a headache every day. Well then every day would start to feel like the movie Groundhog Day. You know the one staring Bill Murray where it doesn’t matter what you do every day you wake up it’s Groundhog Day again time for that same darn headache. Some days are slightly worse than others, some days are slightly better. If it is slightly better you start to wonder if there was something you had done differently. Of course in the end it really didn’t matter you start living one day at a time answering the same how’s it going question as you pass people in the hallway. You start to answer with I’m okay with an occasional good or well thrown in so people don’t start getting too concerned. The last thing you would want is to start talking about your headache as then you are sure it will start pounding. That is all fine and dandy for an analogy, if it was a persistent headache you would take some Advil, cut the caffeine, see a doctor to make sure it is nothing more severe.

I am not here to talk about headaches. Besides I indicated that many people are impacted by this. In fact it is even considered a partial disability that is if you can prove it. What I am talking about is tinnitus, some of you are saying what is tinnitus. The word itself in an onomatopoeia or a word that sound is associated with its name i.e. splash, drip, ring, click, etc... Since for many it sounds like a metallic white noise. Tinnitus comes in many different variations some hear thudding, ringing, hissing, or swishing sounds these sounds are internal, not heard by others, and are most noticeable when the room is quite.

For me my tinnitus started sometime early 2016 and was mainly noticeable when I went to bed. It was a high frequency whistle around 9.7 kHz. It started during a high stress time at work. I didn’t give it much thought at the time after all it was easily masked with my daily activities. However, in early 2017 all of that changed when the frequency and intensity sharply increased to 12.5 kHz and I could no longer ignore the sound no matter what I did. I could blast music as loud as I could stand it and it would be louder. I can hear it over a crowded cafeteria. It is persistent 24/7 with some days better than others but more bad days than good days. Fortunately I was always a good sleeper that has helped but not always as some nights it hinders sleeping. To give you an idea sounds that people are most sensitive to are in the 2 kHz to 5 kHz range some speakers/headphones don’t even produce much of a signal at 12.5 kHz. The sound is so piercing it is painful at times. If I ever get a headache it is amplified by the tinnitus. Now getting back to the headache analogy, with tinnitus the best solution out there is to try to forget it. This can be very difficult, it is like trying to forget you are hungry when your stomach starts growling in a quiet crowded room. The more you try to forget about it the louder it becomes. The same is true with tinnitus. The best approach is as always try to stay busy, but then how do you maintain concentration with constant noise. I have been in meetings where the tinnitus is so loud I feel like running out of the room screaming. Or “wake” up more like get up in the morning and feel like calling into work sick. Then I think how many days would I be working if I took that approach. Thus I take the day one day at a time with lots of prayer by me and my family. I continue one day at a time, it’s Groundhog day again.

Then I remember “I will never leave you or forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:8, and I am ready for the daily battle. Realizing that as loud as this is for me God hears it too yet he has a purpose for it. Even if that purpose is to bring me to my knees, I love Him all the more for I know that He is in control. I can take this time to pray for those in chronic pain where my inconvenience would be a welcome sight. I don’t know what God has planned but I know it will be great and look forward to His plan daily. Taking this day and every day forward one day at a time.

-Paul Bloomquist