Dedicated to funnyoldlife, who is having her first CI on february 25th! Good luck to you!
In the last few months I have been increasingly aware of the impact stress has and HAS HAD on me. In this post I will get into the subject of stress related to my hearing history and to sound-triggered stress reactions. It will be my subjective observations and thoughts, and by no means a scientific paper of any sort. If you would like to read up on various forms of stress, stressors and the short and long term impacts, this article from The Franklin Institute is a good place to start. Also keep in mind, that this is a complex issue, there is a lot more to this subject than I write or think about…
First of all, my sound perception is coming along nicely now, as described in previous posts it takes less and less effort to cope in everyday life. This leads to an alteration in my focus. I no longer have the absolute focus on the ability to comprehend audio. Or to survive the ordeal of on-the-brink-of-deafness, for that matter. I have lifted my head and started looking further up ahead. Among other things I’m venturing into a new partnership with my great girlfriend, and I am pursuing the notion of re-educating myself. The last part is a direct result of my progress, recovery and consequently; motivation.
Frustration over things like medical doctors who act like career counselors, tinnitus, the bad sounding voices or still funny sounding music are replaced by hope and motivation to keep going and to keep fighting. And the goals are becoming clearer simultaneously with the sound getting clearer. The biggest obstacles in my life now are stress and the future of my own working life. I will have to find a way of controlling the stress, which finds new venues as my life transforms.
I think I’m taking well care of the career thing, but the stress is another history. For the past few weeks I have started a stress management course. The course itself increases my awareness of my own stress, and this post is a clear reflection of just that fact. It makes the stress worse in short term. But it’s a good thing in the long term. My aim is to be in control of myself in terms of stress.
For the past 10 + years I have been on the brink of deafness and actually over it as well, the last 3 to 5 years. Listening to my hearing aid today, it strikes me just how unbelievably little sound there is left. If I turn it up, it’s downright unpleasant (ref. “recruitment”). It’s like I have been attempting to run marathon with amputated legs and one lung… The hearing aids were just devices that made me capable of exhausting myself even further. In the end the hearing aids themselves made me sick due to too high sound levels – thus inducing constant sound based stress.
I will attempt a abbreviated list of stress factors before and after CI (Unilateral) that are connected to sounds.
Audio based stressors in my pre CI life:
Stressors in my new sound world:
Ok, I’ve investigated a lot of the causes of stress, also called stressors. What is more interesting though, is what the stress does to me, mentally and physically. Something worth reading might be an article concerning psychoneuroimmunology, which is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.
And can something be done with it? Further down in this post I will write about a stress management course I’m self-studying, which is also a tinnitus management course. The two are more or less about the same since tinnitus is most often triggered, or more prone while in a stressed condition…
I have been living with severe chronic stress due to “recruitment” and struggle to cope with additional daily stressors related to my hearing.
Pre CI stress symptoms:
Post CI stress symptoms:
So how did I cope with stress before my CI surgery?
As you can se, the pre CI lists are both much longer than the post CI lists… In general I don’t really know or understand it myself. But, as the years went by, and my health declined, I compensated in many ways.
- I quit smoking
- I went to a psychologist for my depression tendencies
- I engaged in social activities, forcing myself to do the opposite of what I wanted, knowing it was the right thing to do
- I did a lot of physical exercises, lifting weights and swimming in the winter and being outdoor in the summer
- I prioritized being with my son and family
- I tried engaging into serious relationships with women
- I did work where I could, also for my family
- I enjoyed my hobbies and interests
- I did a lot of soul searching and introvert examinations, also by reading spiritual material like “the Tibetan Book of the Dead”
- I reduced substance abuse
- I worked a lot with my diet, eating healthier
And the list goes on…. All in all, I started living healthier, which enabled me to keep things going a bit further. But the reality came to me; I was going deaf, and there was nothing I could do about that. Then came the question, what CAN I do? The CI quickly came up as the solution. And the more I investigated, the more I understood that that was the way to go for me.
Enter this Blog
Then came this very blog that you are reading right now 🙂 It has also been a safety valve for me. Here I’ve had the opportunity to vent things good and bad. And in the time of waiting for my CI, I certainly had a few things to say 🙂
And, now, just as the CI is starting to work rather well, the process of coping with my life begins. And it is a mind boggling mountain I’m about to take on… I haven’t been in a regular job since 1999, and my last effort at working ended in me becoming burned out. This was in late 2005. First of all, I have a few ghosts to kill. Bad experiences and memories must be dealt with. And motivation need to be nurtured.
In order to be able to take on this mammoth task (this is a description of my feelings regarding this process). I know that all I have to do is to put one foot ahead of the other one, and start walking. I’m not new to getting up again, been doing that my whole life… Put this is a process, and in the process, one have to deal with both the old and the new.
Stress and tinnitus are part of both the old and new me.
I went to a counseling service office for hard of hearing and deaf in Oslo. This was due to the fact that I wasn’t happy with my first audio-trainer. I felt things were to slow and old-school.
Anyway, I had a second motivation for going there as I had learned that they could help people with tinnitus. And I started going to this great audio-trainer as well as working with the tinnitus-management course. The course is also a stress management course.
I was told to purchase a book written by two Swedish specialists: Viktor Kaldo & Gerhard Andersson: “Kognitiv beteendeterapi vid tinnitus.” This book is unfortunately not available in English, I have checked with the publishing house. I found this on Amazon, though: Tinnitus: A Self-Management Guide for the Ringing in Your Ears. It is supposed to be of high quality according to an acquaintance of mine who runs this site: Tinnitus tips. (check out the list of books in English on the right side!)
As I sit here writing, a thought just occurred to me: I think it would be better if I wrote a post for each step I take, thus taking you, my readers with me on this journey. (rather than having a word diarrhea over the subject here…)
I can tell you about my initial experience and how I feel about this approach: The book had been waiting for me to pick it up for a few weeks. I had been sick and without energy, and more focused on training with audio. Then came the day with my physician who practically told med that I have no business in social work. (what a load of crap!) This was on Friday, and I had the weekend with my son ahead of me.
The experience with my physician provoked and scared me so much I had a sky high stress level when I came home. I operate with a scale of 0 to 100. Where 0 is sleeping or totally calm, and 100 is total uncontrollable rage. This Friday I was well into the 70 on the stress scale. That is my subjective measurement. I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t find calm, and I went about using that energy by tidying up, doing the laundry etc etc. Eventually I found the book, and I decided on the spot: “This is it!”. I took the book with me to the bathroom, locked the door, took out my CI, and did the first exercise. The initial effect was remarkable! I started yawning and became really tired. By the end of the exercise, I got myself down to around 40. Which was low enough for me to be able to lie down in my bed and calm down even further. That was a very powerful first time experience, and it woke up the motivation I needed to make the time it takes every day to do these exercises.
Will write more about this in future post…