Tinnitus is a burden and really sucks. Medical professionals say, it doesn’t really exist. But I can hear it now, as I sit on my deck on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a burden and it really does suck.

Tinnitus can cause tremendous suffering in some cases. In the worst cases, tinnitus can lead to suicide.

A starboard bow view of the frigate USS MARVIN SHIELDS (FF-1066) underway.

How it Started

I was tested for hearing loss in 2019. It’s extremely common for people who served aboard US Navy ships since they’re basically tin cans with you in the middle.

On a ship, you are aware of every hammer or tool dropped 300 feet away. Ships are made of metal. This allows the sound to carry (to some extent) throughout the ship you’re on.

Next, we have sonar “pings” (technical term “ensonification” of the sea). The pings are heard at the roughly double the sound level of the loudest recorded rock band. Fortunately sonar pings are rarely used, usually, only during training, since they’re considered an “act of war.” During my time on the USS Marvin Shields, we pinged only 3 or 4 times. But I still remember the hair standing up on my arms when that ping went out.

My hearing loss

I have minimal hearing loss. I’ve been tested by an audiologist and have only normal, minimal hearing loss (for a man of my age). The frequency range I’ve lost is in the range of women’s voices (so, if I ignore a plea to take out the trash you’ll know why). This hearing loss manifests itself in an difficulty to distinguish words like “think” and “thing.” My brain has to take over and analyze the conversation to see whether “think” or “thing” is the proper word. I don’t really notice it, since all these things happens instantaneously.

Where I’m at

Today, I’m sitting on my back porch. I can hear the traffic on nearby I-80, my dogs shaking their collar, and the “tink” of my glass as I set it down on the table next to me. Yet, the overwhelming thing I notice is the loud ringing in my ears (that isn’t really there).

Tinnitus really sucks and is a burden.

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