"The sound that I had was like the way TV programmes would represent the noise of electricity. It was like a “shushing sound” at a really high pitch and got louder the more I focused and concentrated on it."
Bernadette Newman, an accounts clerk from Aldershot in Hampshire first noticed the sound in her head during February of last year.
“I was at Mass on a Saturday evening and the organ was playing and it seemed to vibrate uncomfortably in my left ear. Later that evening, I spoke to my husband in the kitchen and even his voice seemed to vibrate. I had never noticed it before and I started to back away from him to get away from the sound. It was then that I realised that there was something wrong with my ear. This event coincided with a very busy time for me at work and at home.
I spoke with my twin sister in Ireland about the really strange noise in my ear and my head and straight away she told me that it was tinnitus. She is really into medical stuff but I had never even heard of it. She then followed up by saying there was no cure for it!
The sound that I had was like the way TV programmes would represent the noise of electricity. It was like a “shushing sound” at a really high pitch and got louder the more I focused and concentrated on it. I would be sat in the sitting room with the TV on but I could still hear this noise.
There was this thing at the back of my mind saying “you’ve got this problem and it’s not curable” that stuck in my mind. I went to the doctor as I had something wrong with my eye and asked him to check my ear. I told him my sister had explained to me that it was tinnitus and there was no cure. He just told me “that’s right”, he gave me nothing, no encouragement to try anything. I just thought this is terrible! I continued for a few weeks and more and more it became a problem for me because I would be sitting watching TV and not be able to concentrate on the programme. I was so aware of what was going on in my head. At work I had to concentrate on my job and I could ignore it for a short time but it was always there.
"I sometimes felt quite claustrophobic, I felt that I was so trapped with the tinnitus, that it would never leave me, it was not something I could shake off."
When I went to bed I couldn’t sleep. It had a grip on me and it affected me so badly. My feeling was that I was trapped. I would put the radio on just so there was something that would distract me. It was so scary and I thought my life had changed forever because I couldn’t escape from this continuous noise.
One day Gordon went on the computer to see if he could find something that would help me. When he came home that evening he told me he had been on the internet and had found something that he wanted me to see. I remember I had had a really awful day and I said to him “no, I don’t want to be scared anymore, I don’t want to look at something that isn’t going to help me”. I was afraid to look at it because at the back of my mind I knew there was no cure. He told me that The Tinnitus Clinic could help me.
So after Gordon showed me The Tinnitus Clinic video of a lady explaining her story, I rang for an appointment the very next morning.
Gordon came with me on all of the appointments so that I wouldn’t forget anything that was told to me and it was really nice to have him in the appointments with me. He kept telling me that this would work.
I was very lucky because my first consultation included an ENT doctor and an audiologist and they were going to decide whether I was a candidate for the type of treatment they offer. After the assessment Naziya, the audiologist told me that I was suitable for Acoustic Neuromodulation, but she said that we should wait a few weeks because as I hadn’t had the tinnitus for that long there was a chance that it could go away.
When Naziya told me that I was suitable for the treatment I went home completely different, I knew that I could have the treatment and it stopped me from panicking. I went to bed trying to think of other things and knowing that I had someone out there to help me.
I had my first ‘fitting’ appointment with Mark I was a little nervous and didn’t know what it was going to be like or what I had to do. However, he explained it very well.”
“Bernadette presented with high frequency subjective tinnitus that she reported of being tonal in nature,” explained Mark Williams. “It was clear from our first meeting that the tinnitus was really affecting her quality of life with chronic disruption to her sleep pattern being one of the more troublesome issues.”
"I thought the device was easy to listen to. I just plugged the ear phones in and at the beginning I was aware of the tones but after a little while I didn’t even notice them."
Bernadette continues, “I thought the device was easy to listen to. I just plugged the ear phones in and at the beginning I was aware of the tones but after a little while I didn’t even notice them. I was keeping them in for six hours and was hardly aware that the ear phones were there.
At my next consultation with Mark he told me that it had reduced dramatically, a lot more than would normally happen. It has improved immensely. The outlook is so much brighter for me. I can cope with it, I can handle it and it doesn’t dominate my life at all.”
Mark describes Bernadette’s improvement, “at her post fitting appointment Bernadette made encouraging progress with her tinnitus loudness and severity scores reducing by around 40% after just over 5 weeks of therapy. This clinical effect was shown to augment and become sustainable at around 20 weeks.”
“I am now feeling a million times better. My husband says “I’ve got my wife back!”. It’s just so different now,” said Bernadette.
I am still using the device on a daily basis. My last consultation is in May 2015 at which point Mark has indicated he will suggest that I use it less often. The other thing Mark gave me to use was the purple disc with the pillow speaker.
I think positively about the future and the cage I was in has been opened. I’m not locked in there anymore, I’m not trapped.
It has been absolutely brilliant in the Clinic. From the very first time I arrived, they have been terrific and I really couldn’t have got through it without Gordon either.
"If I spoke to other people with tinnitus I would say there is help out there and so don’t panic. There is help and you won’t be trapped anymore. Go for it and if you are suitable for the treatment, you will get relief and you will get your life back."
Watch our video to learn about the neurological causes of tonal tinnitus.
The Tinnitus Clinic has clinics throughout the UK
An important part of my mission at The Tinnitus Clinic is to share our knowledge of tinnitus; its causes, how to prevent it and what to do if you are suffering from the condition. This blog will go some way in achieving this aim.