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Hyperacusis - Sound Over Stimulation

  • Tuesday, 18 December 2012 20:39

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor my vocabulary got bigger. But not with words I ever wanted to know. Glioblastoma Multiforme, Temodar, craniotomy, necrosis, etc. Now there is a new word I just learned, Hyperacusis. I wish I learned it back in 2000 when I first learned Glioblastoma! It sure would have been helpful.

After my 4th craniotomy sounds became more unbearable. It’s not the loudness of the sounds, just the sounds themselves, even if you can barely hear them. They drive me crazy! Someone taping their finger, turning a page in a book, the sound of a clock, any sounds. Sounds I did not even notice before now seem to be attacking my brain. I feel violated by the sounds and unfortunately if someone near me is making the sound, I often react and verbally attack back! Not pretty.

It was bothering me so much that I went to an audiologist to make me special personal ear plugs. When they are in, I can pretty much only hear my soothing heart beat. Amazing! Loved it! On Thanksgiving, I was so overwhelmed with the unbearable sounds that over 30 people made. Voices talking, silver wear clicking on plates, ice jingling in glass cups, pool table balls snapping, people laughing. Too much! I ended up hiding in a bedroom alone with my ear plugs in. Lonely.

I found myself becoming more of a hermit; hiding from sounds. Staying away from large groups of people, places with lots of sounds, and loosing patients with family members who made any extra unneeded sounds around the house. Sounds they don’t even notice.

Then I meet with my wonderful neuro-phycologist and she educated me with the word, hyperacusis and told me I had it. A new diagnosis! Caused by damage to my brain from the tumor, surgeries, radiation, chemo. Here is the definition: Hyperacusis - Abnormally acute hearing due to heightened irritability of the sensory neural mechanism. I can be a witness, YES, along with hyperacusis comes heightened irritability!!! So true! Go and Google hyperacusis, read about it, and you may say “oh that’s me too!”

If so, I want you to learn what I learned. Don’t go and become a hermit and hide from the sounds! My instinctive reaction was to run and hide, but I learned that reaction is NOT the best way to solve the problem. My neuro-oncologist informed me that if I want to “get better” and become more tolerant to the sounds, I can’t hide from them! The more you separate yourself from the sounds that you feel are attacking you, it will get worse; you will become more sensitive to the sounds. WOW I did not know that!

My neuro-oncologist recommended I work with an audiologist to become “desensitized” to sounds. I am told it’s pretty simple. Slowly exposing yourself to sounds, getting your brain used to them again. I just made an appointment with an audiologist to be “desensitized.” So in a few weeks I’ll be taught how that works and I’m sure I’ll learn more new vocabulary words. I’ll let you guys know what I discover. Just wanted to make sure others out there are not hurting themselves by becoming a “sound avoiding hermit” like me.