My Tinnitus Article

Above is the photo of a very proud, very excited woman, holding the most challenging and rewarding article she’s ever written (so far).

I’m going to talk about that article soon. But first, I think you all need some background.

In February 2014, I lost the ability to experience silence.

To put it less dramatically, I developed tinnitus. It’s a medical condition that produces a sound in your ears only you can hear- a ringing, a hissing, a buzzing, a murmuring.

For some people, it’s temporary. It’s the ringing in your ears after a night at a loud concert. For others, it’s permanent. It can occur after you catch a cold, or develop an ear infection. There are dozens of reasons why someone develops permanent, or chronic, tinnitus. I’m one of those people.

According to the American Tinnitus Association, about 50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus. 2 million suffer through “extreme and debilitating” cases. That’s akin to a roaring train, or a blaring fire alarm, trapped in your head.

Tinnitus can lead to depression and anxiety, or make mental health conditions worse if you already have them. Severe cases can lead to suicide.

When I first developed tinnitus, it was a struggle to adapt to my new normal. My life was a chaotic mess of anxiety, a common feeling for many people immediately after they develop the condition. The loss of silence is something so nebulous and strange, it was hard to process. Lots of sleepless nights, and worry, and wondering if it could get better.

My tinnitus didn’t get better, but I did. Four years later, I still have the condition, but I’ve learned to manage it and live a very happy, healthy life. My tinnitus is close to background noise now, but it’s never quite left my mind.

I’ve never been able to forget how alone I felt when I first developed it. I know there are other people who were in the same place I was four years ago.

That’s why, in September, I reached out to the American Tinnitus Association, a national non-profit that publishes a quarterly magazine, Tinnitus Today.

Eight months later, I’m incredibly happy and proud to present my article in their Spring 2018 edition, “Pursuing Dreams, Life, and Joy…Despite Tinnitus”. It’s on page 26. In case you want to read it. Hint, hint.

Facetune_01-05-2018-16-43-07

I wanted to tell my candid story, how tinnitus has affected my life, and how I’ve coped with it after four years. Writing this article brought back tough memories I had long buried, but it was absolutely worth it. I can’t thank the American Tinnitus Association enough for giving me a chance to tell my story.

And…that’s that. I’ve bared (part of) my soul, and I’m feeling happy and proud and nineteen different other things. It would mean the world to me if you read my article. Pass it on if you know someone with tinnitus.

As I’ve said before, if I make one person feel less alone, it was worth it.

Click here to see more of my published writing. If you’d like me to write for your publication or website, send me a note!

4 thoughts on “My Tinnitus Article

  1. Blessings Ellen….you are amazing…pass it forward…
    Comunnication Key….thx. .rb

  2. Ellen, this is a wonderful story of courage. Thank you for articulating this so well…it helps me understand what three members of my family are going through!

  3. Wow…… And I do mean wow!! First and foremost out of respect and courtesy I request your forgiveness if I sound as though I’m making light of this condition of the ears as is nothing to belittle and can be quite horrifying especially upon its initial occurrence and your initial experiences that one goes through. I have a joke I used with my soon to be ex-wife due to her intolerance of the vast number of complex and horrific medical atrocities that I deal with 24/7.. but the joke used to be… “If it were only the ears”… It started in 1994 as just Auditory tinnitus, that was after 12 years of working on F-16 fighter aircraft that are extremely loud fighter aircraft. I got out of the Air Force in 1995 and this is the point in time where I’m told by just about everyone I meet and here’s my story that I need to sit down and be interviewed and write a book and blog and tell my life story to the world and you know how goes from there… Well, 1995 after Desert Storm and Desert Shield I got out of the Air Force as I was stationed in Germany and I decided to get out to live closer to my son from my first ex-wife whom decided to partake in extracurricular activities as I was training for desert storm in Israel… I moved back to Greenville South Carolina and lived with my mother and went back to college to pursue and finish my four year degree at The University of South Carolina as this put me within close enough proximity to my son Victor who was four years old at the time in Georgia with his mother. This way I was able to maintain every other weekend visitations with him. So I guess this is where the story starts and you have to decide how to help me tell the story from here to make changes in peoples lives as I have already done, but it needs to be much broader in scope and much more impactful… May 3, 1996 in the middle of college classes one day, I drove down the road to get some lunch and pulled into a grocery store and as I was pulling in A grocery store parking lot… a gentleman walking down the sidewalk had just came from the grocery store was caring a bag full of items he just purchased from the same store I was about to enter. His bag ripped his items rolled onto the sidewalk and some rolled into the road and I yelled at him to get his attention so that I could help the this man and pick up his items, and well you see where it’s going from here. I looked left to see if there are any cars coming in it was a 3 Lane Rd. and I did not see anything in my lane so I jumped down to pick up a couple of the objects and a car traveling 60 miles an hour struck my body and the last thing I remember is hearing my bones cracking and flying 60 feet through the air. I awoke laying on the road with a gentleman‘s shirt he had taken off and wrapped around my head as he cradled my head as I had a skull fracture and arterial bleeding and fractures all over my body and my bones for my right leg were stuck through my left leg. Just across the street was a bank where there had been a bomb threat and it had just been cleared as a hoax but all of the police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances were on site, so as I got hit they were literally getting ready to leave and I landed 60 feet from the ambulance. As the story goes on I laid there another 30 seconds I would have been dead This became a three decade Journey through hell and back literally tangoing with the devil himself traveling through the abyss of Hell as I could’ve never imagined and life and death experiences I would encounter and the 23 surgeries over three decades. Henceforth the reasoning for the joke, “if it we’re only the ears”, because at that time I had also acquired pulsatile tinnitus From one of the multitude of blood vessels that got kinked near my auditory nerve in my head so I have auditory tinnitus and pulsatile tinnitus that are screaming in my head 24/7… so when I would have a day when my body was in so much pain I felt like I could not take another 60 seconds of that day, I would look at my wife and I would say, if for only the ears. Of course I know that the condition of tinnitus is horrifying enough as it is but nobody else could know that unless they experience it on top of everything else I deal with. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to make it yet another day… Back when I first discovered that I had Auditory tinnitus, it was the most frightening thing in the world knowing that I would have to live with this. I even chose after the accident to go through a cranial arterial-gram which is where they slice you in the groin and go up with scope through your main artery all the way up into your brain trying to find the one blood vessel That is kinked and while there is a relatively low chance of finding this blood vessel, there is also a relatively high chance of having a stroke and you could die on the table And I was easy-going willing to take the chance would you give someone some indication of how rough it is to deal with that noise. They also have to do this procedure while you are awake laying on a table so you can take commands from doctor staring into your eyes as you’re looking at these screens on all the walls of pictures of your brain and the scope traveling through it. Reason you’re awake is they have to make sure you respond to these commands in case you do go into a stroke while this gentleman is staring you in the eyeballs telling you to look up and down look left…and just want to tell him to shut up and say “look dude… If it were only the ears”…. so from the accident till this current day as I sit in my home alone as my wife left me five days ago, I’m depressed as hell but with the upmost faith in God wondering will this article manifest into anything at all as I speak into my phone and contact this woman in Oregon. What a beautiful state that I’ve visited when I was 13. Or will it disappear into nothingness or will it be the catalyst to my own adventure and reaching out to people… as I was just planning to do and actually just recently purchased some camera equipment but had no idea how or where to start . Well my name is Jeff Voitel and I’m 52 years old and I live in Greenville South Carolina… A man of Strong faith and I love Jesus Christ and I love people I love helping people which is kind of how this all started I guess, but I’m on disability now finally so I’m devoting the rest of my life to helping people and I’ve been looking for other people to help me get started. My life and near death experiences over the years have already helped many others. And once in a while as was the case this evening when I was in the music store I just do random acts of kindness not for any particular reason other than just because… But this young lady walked into the music store that was getting ready to close as I was checking out, I noticed she was desperately pleading to buy this electronic keyboard that was on sale and would not be on sale the next day and they could not hold it for… It was $254.00 I saw the passion in her eyes as I am a passionate man myself and her passion was accompanied with such discouragement and she looked into the eyes of her father and as they started to walk out I looked at the salesman whom I my know as I go in there quite frequently and quietly whispering to put it on my card… I’ll bet he doesn’t have tinnitus as he heard me quite well…Lol… As I walked around the corner so not to be seen The father and daughter came around the corner expressing how joyful and grateful… and all I asked is that they pay it forward some day. I’m just happy for them and I’m happy that I was able to give God the glory and I don’t know where this will go from here but I believe there’s a reason I’m talking into my phone right now sending this message so I’ll sign off for now and see what happens, hey… I’d love another trip to Oregon.

    Please feel free to contact me as I need something to do to fight this depression of being in this house alone with my wife leaving me and taking the dog, whom I trained myself to be my emotional support animal I know I’m trying to sound a little silly in this venue of communication that I’m attempting to convey as I’m fighting back the tears like it’s nobody’s business and I’m looking for some light at the end of the tunnel and really really hoping that it’s not a train coming at of me…

    Kindest Regards, Jeff Voitel
    864-982-3289
    A2ARaptor@iCloud.com
    AKA Lone Wolf

  4. I just read you article in Tinnitus Today! It was wonderful and inspiring to me. I just got tinnitus on 2/1/18. Funny how we will never forget the date when all silence was gone. Thank you so much for your information and strength. You are a light in the darkness. You inspire me to blog also. Thank you.

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