How I Met Tinnitus and How I Learned to Live With It!

One day in the late 1980s I was at my desk at work and began to feel nauseated. I ran Customer Service for the new Bloomingdale’s store in Tysons Corner, VA. My boss, the store manager, was very concerned and said he would have someone drive me home. I lived (and still do) with my husband Joe nearby. When I got home, I began vomiting and my equilibrium deteriorated. I had trouble standing and was so dizzy! My mother came to try to help me. My husband was out of the country on business, so she stayed with me that night and the next morning I was still in bad shape! I had to crawl to the bathroom and brushing my hair and teeth were not possible. My mother looked up the name of the Internist my husband and I became patients of. Unfortunately, he was in Washington, D.C. My dear mother drove me there and still, in the waiting room, I was nauseated and vomiting.

When Dr. Perry came to the door, he called my name and I weakly looked up. My mother helped me up and the doctor went to his receptionist and told her that she should never let a patient in this condition sit in the waiting room again! He examined me and said that I had a virus that was attacking the inner ear. He prescribed medication and my mother drove me home and stayed with me. I followed the directions of my doctor and in a few days began to improve.

Time went by and in the early 1990s, I began to hear ringing in my ears. I was frightened by this, as it persisted and did not go away. My sister, Trish, called me one day to check on me and I admitted that I was upset by the ringing that would not go away. I was in tears! She tried to calm me down and said one of her work associates had a similar thing happen and she was going to talk to her. She did, and for the first time I heard about tinnitus and the Tinnitus Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center!

I went to the appointment and was warmly greeted by Susan Gold. She listened to my story and the next step was to schedule me with a doctor the next week. I arrived at that appointment and was evaluated by an audiologist and was scheduled for a follow up appointment the next week. At that appointment, I was told that I had tinnitus and was a classic case!

From there I was lucky to be the beneficiary of extraordinary care. I participated in a program where I would wear hearing devices in both ears that would emanate “white noise” that would distract from the loud-pitched noise and my brain would learn not to fear the tinnitus. I was told I would eventually not need the ear devices. Once wearing them, I couldn’t imagine not needing them! But, as I was told, after some time, the tinnitus noise did not frighten me as much, and eventually I was able to stop wearing them!

In December of 2015, the tinnitus noise began to seem louder and I was having trouble sleeping. An old fear was emerging. During one night, I awoke and felt Joe holding my hand and looking at me. He said I seemed very restless and the next morning he suggested I call the Tinnitus Center. I came back to the Tinnitus Center in January of 2016 and after evaluation, I was told that the noise could come back louder. I knew once again that I was back in the right place!

At my appointment I was reevaluated and met with Dr. Christina Shields. She verified that the tinnitus noise can come back and suggested new ear devices. I was shown some different styles and measured for them. Once again, I was saved by the Tinnitus Center! All of my anxiety and fear that had erupted melted away. The Tinnitus Center at UMMC had once again come to my rescue!!

With great appreciation and thanks, Pam Linnemann