I woke up on Saturday morning in my London hotel room, and had a loud ringing in my ears from the party the night before. I thought it’s go away. It didn’t. And this post is to tell you how it feels so you never do the same to yourself.
I had been on a party boat on the River Thames with a DJ friend of mine the night before. The charity he works for (danceaid.org) had kitted the boat out with a loud soundsystem, a bar, and a dancefloor, and they pimp it out to corporates to raise funds. He was DJing, and his music slowly moved from great house into what he calls his “shit folder” as the night went on, ending in the inevitable Christmas tunes, and the night got louder and louder.
I had not intended to be on that boat, and I couldn’t get off (it was a boat…), and I remember the audio went from sounding great to hurting, and feeling distorted in both my ears. Although we were trying to have a “meeting”, I was in a DJ booth, and I remember I had to say a few times to him “I just can’t hear you…”
And now it was Saturday morning, and I had a loud ringing in both ears. “It’ll be OK,” I thought, “It’s not like I haven’t been here before…
But it wasn’t OK. The next day, it was still there. A week later, it was still there. Jumping on a plane to a meeting in the USA nine days later, I was in a bad place. I’d been reading up online about tinnitus, had an appointment booked with the doctor, and resigned myself to my fate, quite mad at myself for forgetting earplugs that night. Just another DJ with damaged hearing, joining so many of my friends – and I’d kidded myself I’d escaped it over the years, too!
So here’s the good news. On the flight, I put my earbuds in and sat back to watch a film. And after 11 hours in the air, I realised it had practically gone. I think the pressure differences combined with the earbuds holding my ears open had unblocked them, and the blockage had been what was causing the ringing, not permanent damage.
Over the next few days the tinnitus came and went but it’s more or less gone now, and I have put it down to a combination of blocked sinuses from a bad cold I’d had the week earlier, with my ears reacting to the loud music making things worse. Who knows if I haven’t done some damage too that might come back to haunt me?
I am guilty of being a bit blazé about hearing and earplugs, but now I realise that’s because I had never experienced extended tinnitus before. I would have lived with it, sure, but it is really not nice. And now I understand what many of my good friends who suffer in some degree or other from this are going through.
So if you’ve heard advice about earplugs and not heeded it in the past, I’m here to say you should. If my words convince just one person to be sensible and use musicians’ / DJs’ earplugs from now on, they’ve been worth writing. Looks like I may have been given another chance. But I’m not taking it for granted that there will be more.
Basically, don’t assume that the next time your ears are ringing after a heavy night that it’ll go away – because maybe it won’t, and trust me, you don’t want that.
Do you suffer from tinnitus? Have you ever temporarily lost your hearing or had to deal with loud ringing or other sounds? How did/do you cope? And do you have any advice to share? Please join in in the comments.