Stop, Hey, What's That Sound?*
(Tinnitus on Steroids)

by Tina Blue
August 30, 2003

          A few days ago I was walking home from class at about 1:00 in the afternoon.  It was a typically hot August day, and as is usual, my tinnitus was loud in my ears.

          Actually, it was even louder than usual. Normally I don't mind my tinnitus at all.  In fact, as I explain in "The Sounds of Silence" and "The Sound the Universe Makes is Really Just Tinnitus," I rather like my tinnitus.  I made friends with it a long, long time ago, when I was a mere child.

          But tinnitus does bother a lot of people.  I know, because I hear complaints about it all the time.  Usually I advise such people not to concentrate so much on their tinnitus, because the more they fret about it, the more it bothers them.

          But this time, as I walked home from class, my tinnitus seemed to be screeching in my ears.

          Darn, I thought.  That's loud.  Good thing it's not normally this loud. I'd never be able to hear myself think!

          Then I got home and stepped inside my apartment, into what seemed almost to be a dead silence.

          Startled, I listened to the "silence," and realized that it wasn't silence at all.  There in my left ear were the whistling, ringing, and humming I always hear, and there in my right ear was the newer, but by now familiar, whoosh of the air-conditioner--or rather the tinnitus that sounds like an air-conditioner.

          How weird, I thought.

          After greeting and feeding my cats, I remembered that I hadn't checked the mailbox when I came in, so I opened the door and stuck my head outside to see if the mail had arrived yet.

          At that very moment I was overwhelmed by a loud screeching sound.  Holy cannoli!  I thought. It's back! Then I closed the door, and once again blessed "silence" (that is, the ringing, whistling, humming, and whooshing that I equate with silence) descended on my overwhelmed ears.


          So I opened the door again, only to be blasted once more by an onslaught of sharp, high-pitched, incessant noise.

          Ah, I realized. Not tinnitus.



*For those of you who are too young to remember, this is part of the refrain of a popular 1960s protest song by a group called Buffalo Springfield.

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