Just seconds ago, I saw this quote on my friend's facebook status: "The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective" - Neuharth. This comes at a time where my ability to put things in perspective is challenged.
Many of you have been kind enough to ask about the progress of my ringing ears (thank you Robin B.), and so I've decided to write a bit about what is going on. I wasn't sure how to approach the blog, and then I saw that quote and here's what it's inspired.
As I've been reading about tinnitus, I've learned that living with tinnitus and not having it can be one in the same thing. The sound may disappear, but the brain doesn't know that and continues a processing loop that creates the illusion of ringing. Now, please take that information as merely my take. I've done way too much reading and cannot say for certain that I'm interpreting it correctly. In fact, I may be totally incorrect in how I've interpreted that information, but please don't correct me, because it's the idea that I most like.
There are many reasons for tinnitus, and sometimes the cause is unknown. My (hopefully) final doctor visit will be in just over a week, and then (hopefully) I will have a better understanding of what's going on. My feeling is that it is stress-induced and that I've created this, or my body has, to slow me down and get me to look at my life. That is my hope. I have talked for hours about this with my boyfriend, who knows pretty much everything about my whole entire life. He really knows me as well as I know myself, if not better. When he mentioned that the onset came at a time of severe stress (and cited examples), I believed him. I immediately started to feel better. Ironically, whenever I am with him I feel comforted and safe, and often, the symptoms improve. He's good for me.
The day after I spoke with him about this, Tuesday of last week, I went to see an acupuncturist, Susannah Pitman, at Balance Acupuncture Center in Boonton. She asked me basic health history, history of what I wish to be treated for, and any other information that might be helpful for her to know. The intake seemed long and thorough, and I felt confident that she saw what she needed to see (behavioral), and knew what she needed to know (information) to help me.
She began acupuncture.
After she started placing the needles, she mentioned that she wanted to do something called moxibustion. On the release form that I signed, I remembered reading that there is the chance that one could get burned, so I mentioned that I was concerned about that. She explained the process, and how safe it is (and that yes, there is a chance of getting burned), and then did the procedure on herself so that I could see and feel comfortable with it. After seeing it, seeing the cream used to prevent burning, and noting that even if I did get burned, the spot would be teeny tiny, I felt very comfortable with the process and was hopeful that it would create some sort of change in my physical (ears), emotional (stressed, anxious) state.
After my first session, I felt very relaxed and hopeful. During the days that followed, I saw drastic improvement, and that only started to wane during the last two days. On Sunday, I panicked after spending hours reading horrible stories on the Internet, add to that that I'd been in the house all day, and it got dark at 4 p.m. It was quiet (not great for tinnitus) and I focused on the bad, making it bigger. This carried through to Monday, and that day had a handful of not-so-great messages, which only made things worse.
But today, a week later, I went for my second acupuncture appointment. I told Susannah about the week, and she felt good about the positive changes. Again, she did acupuncture and moxibustion. All the while I kept thinking good thoughts. I read somewhere that living with the ringing is just a matter of ignoring it, until one actually stops hearing it. I did that all day today, and even thought good, loving thoughts when the ringing got stronger. If I associate the ringing with good thoughts, then it won't be so ominous. I left feeling confident, once again, and relaxed. And I decided that I wanted to return again this week, to maintain the good feeling that I was left with after the appointment. I will go back on Friday, the day that I turn 41. It's my gift to myself. I am going to turn this mountain into a molehill, absolutely.
Thank you all for your concern. I promise to let you know the moment the ringing goes away.