I don’t tend to think of my self as “suffering” with anything. But I do live with hyperacusis. In a nutshell, sound hurts me. Little sounds hurt me. Big sounds hurt me. Common sounds you would not normally give any thought to hurt me.
How did I end up with hyperacusis? It is a result of Bell’s palsy. Several years ago I noticed my tongue was numb. It felt as it would after having taken a drink of too hot coffee or eaten too hot food. I didn’t think anything of it the first day which was a Monday. Tuesday I was a little surprised the feeling lingered, by Wednesday I was raising an eyebrow. I had a physical already scheduled for the upcoming Monday so I decided to mention it to the Dr. if the numb feeling remained. I also noticed a pain in my right ear and in my jaw near my ear now and then. I was thinking a bad tooth or ear infection was trying to settle in. By Thursday I had a horrid pain in my neck. I dismissed this pain. I had previously had a rotated vertebrae in my neck and I assumed it was out of whack again. I put a bag of frozen peas on it and asked my husband for a neck massage. He then gave me a timed ….. ONE MINUTE…. “massage”. Sigh…. Thanks a lot. I guess it was better than nothing.
The next day was when it all settled in. I noticed my face was twitching like crazy. I had never seen or experienced such twitching which could only be compared to what one’s face may do just before some alien life burst forth from said face. I was convinced aliens were using my face to hatch their young. Thankfully this was not the case. Though maybe I would have preferred it. By that evening I had googled all of these symptoms and discovered Bell’s Palsy. I was relieved yet afraid. I could look in the mirror and see my face slowly fizzling out as I tried smiling, raising my eye brows and puckering. Only the left half was working. It was a very strange feeling to have only half of my face functioning. The next 6 months were going to try me. A LOT. The Dr. gave me an anti-viral and also prednisone. I was unable to take the prednisone for the course because it had a terrible effect on me. The neurologist said they only prescribe it because it’s “the thing to do” not because they have any real proof that it actually helps. I found that disturbing.
Over the next 6 months I was unable to close my right eye unless I did so manually. This had me wearing swim goggles in the shower, avoiding the wind, poking myself in the eye pretty much constantly, unable to put on lip stick, eye liner, blow my nose on the right side, or close my right eye to sleep. I slept with my face in the pillow to hold the eye lid shut. I had to constantly apply eye drops to keep my eye from drying up and withering away. My hearing in the right side was affected also. There was zero acoustic reflex on that side.
Once the palsy slowly healed I was left with some residual effects. The biggest one being my permanent hearing problem. Because the left side became sympathetic to the right I now have hyperacusis in both ears. No one understands what this hearing disorder does to the one who has it. Ear plugs hurt as they tend to press on the nerve on the right side in my ear canal, and I can’t wear them while eating so I avoid restaurants. The list of sounds that have become intolerable include:
certain music at any volume
the sound of the keys on a key board
my own voice
the sound of plastic bags
crunchy food when I eat
music in the grocery store
the beep as groceries are scanned at the check out
Just to name a few. Some of these sounds bring on odd and unpleasant sensations. Such as a “whoosh” like feeling in my ears, a sound/feeling of water rolling through my head, the feeling that my brain is vibrating or that a string is being pulled through my brain, a feeling that I can only describe as the fluttering of my ear drum, or just a plain old piercing feeling as if knives were being stabbed into my ears. My face still looks a tad droopy on that side though people say they don’t notice.
I find myself feeling depressed at times. Depending on what caused the hyperacusis in the first place there are possible therapies that can help. But there is no cure or treatment for the type of hyperacusis I have. I have days where it is much worse than others. I also find myself wondering how many other people out there have this disorder too. I am always surprised at doctors who have never heard of this.
I don’t complain as much as I did in the beginning. I feel like a whiner and a burden to others. I don’t feel comfortable always asking others to lower their voices, or to stop making “that” noise etc…. I just try to cope in anyway I can. I find myself seeking solitude more and more. It’s good to vent. This forum allows me to do that with out feeling so bad about going on about it. Maybe someone else who has hyperacusis will see this and feel better knowing someone else out there knows what they are living with.