I'm coming to accept that I'm beginning a new life journey. It's going to be one with more artificial waves by my bedside, and plenty more gratitude for Spotify.
I have ringing in my ears, tinnitus. It is not made of out of my mind, out of stress or anxiety: I know because I was having a calm evening with my daughter, having just danced our way through the evening, when the ringing entered. Of course, I was aware that the ringing had been going on for two weeks, I might have been anxious about it and that anxiety might have "caused" the "ringing." There's a theory that that is what occurs.
But I stopped blaming my mind last night. The ringing returned almost "objectively," entering so firmly into my ears that I was, in fact, even confident that I was hearing a loud, external source. I tapped on my husband. "Can you take off your ear plugs? Do you hear that now? That loud eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
"Then, what do you hear?"
"The air con and the clock."
"Me, too!" Our daughter, Summer, chimed in. "You hear the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee again, Mommy?"
"Yes, sweetheart. Yes, yes, I do. It's so loud. You're sure, both of you, that you're not just overlooking it?"
I am going in to see the ENT specialist today, at 9:30 a.m., after I drop my daughter off at school. The journeys down the hill to catch the bus and train alone after I send her off, have changed. Since two Mondays ago, they've been filled with more careful listening: I listen out to see if the ringing, a high-pitched tone that sometimes happens in beats but sometimes happens as if there is a straight line endlessly being drilled horizontally into my head, is there (I didn't know my head was this wide). Walking nowadays, I smile if I hear the rustling of a squirrel or lizard (or snake - they like the drains!) or the flutter or chirps of a bird. I used to look to find the source of these sounds if I ever did hear such things; but for the past two weeks, I've basked in the hearing. I've appreciated sound for all of what it is.
I was always smiling whenever I heard these little sounds of nature, but the smiles for the past two weeks have been different. I smile now because I am grateful that I can still hear little hopscotches of animals, little slippery sounds near my feet, or the rough, but tender pats of footprints, higher on branches and leaves. I smile now from a depth in my heart reserved only for gratitude. It's not a place entirely positive: this gratitude shares some space with sadness. Tears for two: joy and woe.
There is no cure to tinnitus. There is only management. What I am trying to tell myself about where I will go includes this: "Beethoven also had tinnitus. You can still do great things."
There you have it: now I aspire to be like Beethoven.
It is not altogether untrue. I have been, for the past year, working on a book or two. I don't intend to put those projects on hold. Roaring to the lyrics of Roar and Fight Song last night with Summer, I was set on still going to writing conferences and making it in literature. On Saturday morning, it did feel, however, like putting my writing on hold was what I needed to do: the ringing in my ears became so loud that I, even with a goal of quitting being a hypochondriac, had to schedule an appointment with my psychiatrist, Dr. Kua, immediately. Was I making all of this up? That was still a question that I had then. Now, I know - even he knows - that I should go to the ENT. (I have not popped a Xanax for this, I have not had a panic attack for this <-- these facts are all the more assurance that it's time for an ENT.)
Summer has been sweet about all of this. (I think my husband was too tired and sleepy yesterday to carve out room for great care - which is fine. I'm learning that the strongest proponent I have for myself is me. It's good to be reminded, because he's usually so consistently sweet and giving, that I forget that in the end, I give myself a strength that no one else can.)
Yesterday, on the mattress, Summer's eyes were twinkling and she asked, "What if you think about happy things?"
"Like what, sweetheart?" (I had mine, but what are hers?)
"The moon, the stars."
"That's a great idea, Summer."
"What about this? I'll open the... uh.... uh....paa man-"
"I'll open the uh... curtains... and if you see the moon, you can put your ear to the window."
She might be right.
I write this now, lulled by the waves of Spotify. It is five a.m. Is there still a moon? Let me go look. If there is, I will tiptoe, arch, and press firmly: do whatever it takes, to get so close.