6 Months Tinnitus Success Story: Tinnitus After Covid-19

6 Months Tinnitus Success Story: Tinnitus After Covid-19

Genoveva

At the beginning, it was really loud, it was like a 10, and I could hear it even coming out of my ears. It was just so loud and I couldn’t sleep. Right now, it’s like a two or three.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Hi everyone, welcome to episode 26 of the podcast. We focus on hearing and tinnitus. In today’s episode, we have Genoveva, who I have worked with personally for tinnitus retraining therapy over the last six months. We met in late January, February, 2021, and we’re making this podcast episode to educate other people on what it’s like to be six months into tinnitus retraining therapy. Genoveva, how are you doing today? Please tell us your journey over these last six months. What’s happened?

Dr. Ben Thompson asks Genoveva about her tinnitus journey.

Genoveva

Thank you, Dr. Ben for inviting me. I actually got tinnitus after having COVID. I got COVID in early November of 2020, and by November 14 right after my two weeks, when it was, I guess I was clear, I woke up with this horrible noise in my ear, I couldn’t control. My immediate reaction was to contact my doctor and my doctor told me that it was going to go away, don’t worry about it. Two weeks later, it didn’t go away, It was just getting worse. So, I went to see the doctor and they pretty much told me there was nothing they could do, then they gave me the pamphlet. They was just like, “It’s just going to go away, “it’s going to go away.” I was like that for three months. I couldn’t sleep, I was really frustrated, I actually went into depression, very anxious that no one was giving me an answer, and it was a horrible feeling of tinnitus. It was super loud, and it control my mind, and I couldn’t concentrate. I actually was watching TV, I could hear the noise and the worst part for me with not being present. As I told you, I’m a very active member of my community, I’m super involved with my kid’s stuff, and my, like I shared with you, my husband and I, we were struggling to have… My kid is adopted, but we were struggling to have our natural kids, and we were going through the in vitro process. So, having this problem and that no doctor was giving me a solution was really frustrating for me, really, really frustrated. And the fact that I didn’t know if I had a bigger neurological problem and I was just in a whole, I was really frustrated and no one was giving me a solution. For months, I couldn’t even get up. I was just really depressed, I couldn’t figure it out. And the fact that I couldn’t sleep was more frustrated. And at one point I even questioned if I was going to be a functional citizen, being myself very active, you know, if I was going to be able to go back to work, if I was going to be present.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Genoveva, so you just told us those first three months, sleep trouble, insomnia, stress, anxiety, questioning what was your future now? Where are you now six months after you started getting help, getting the right resources together? Because the reason we’re having this podcast is to showcase people what can happen in a six month period. So where are you in the last month?

Genoveva

Dr. Ben, I didn’t give up. I actually called all the counselors. Through the American Tinnitus Association, I was able to contact you. The support that I’ve been getting through your program monthly. I met other people who were going through the same experience. I think the frustration was that, not knowing information. So, once I started getting more information, reaching out to all the councilors, through American Association, to you and the support, and that we’re going to to be fine. I went to see a neurologist. I even though, not only was I dealing with tinnitus, but also the long-call effects of COVID, which is fatigue and all this stuff, I still made it very powerful. I fight like a lion to make sure that I get up and make sure that I, even though at the beginning, I couldn’t really hear what you were saying on the Zoom because of tinnitus, but now, thank God, like you mentioned, one of the key things that you mentioned, that I had never tried it in my life, is meditation. Never tried it in my life. So, I actually went to a meditation center to learn and practice how to meditate, and to other counselors, they were telling me the same thing, meditate, meditate. And they were giving me those skills of meditation. And at first, I actually thought like… I was thinking like, I need a pill, or something, I don’t really want meditation. But I did it because I have no option and–

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Did you ever try a pill?

Genoveva

Well, yeah, the neurologist just gave me pills for anxiety, and for depression, and I was like, “I don’t need those pills. “I need to get better, you know? “In terms of the tinnitus.” And so meditation helped me a lot. You were keep saying that we have to focus on making tinnitus not important. And so I had to, once I start might not, I started seeing the different, I seriously thought I was not going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m seeing it. This weekend, thank God, I was able to move my kid to San Diego State University, he’s actually living over there. I seriously said I was not going to miss that moment, and I was really concentrated. I still have the tinnitus, but it’s not that loud. It actually has lowered and I have function at work. I thought I was never going to… I’m actually at work, and I’m very blessed to say that. I’m still working on getting better. I reach out to everybody who tinnitus wasn’t their subject, to other counselors I was seeing. You know, you recommended also prenatal massage, I did that, meditation. I actually was also, a lot of people in the support group also recommended acupuncture, I did that. Everything, everything that you mentioned, everything that you promoted, I actually… And now, I’m learning that it is not good to get so much into the topic, but I was really desperate for solutions. And one of the things that I was looking, before going to sleep, I will, before doing my meditation, I will look into your videos of tinnitus. When you first get tinnitus, the basics. And just to remind me, and just to motivate myself that I was going to be okay. And at first it was hard for me to believe that because I have never dealt with this in my life. And the fact that there’s no cure, I think that scared me the most at the beginning. But it gave me peace just to know that there is a support group and I want to thank you. God sent you through my way, ’cause I was praying a lot for God to help me, and thank you, by the way, Dr. Ben, for helping me and answering my call when I most needed it, ’cause I didn’t have no answers and also solutions. Like, I am actually now want to be an advocate that more people should know the answer, ’cause it’s really frustrating at the beginning when you experienced this, and you’re like, “Am I going crazy? “Or is it, what’s going on?” You know? But I’m in a better situation, but I’m still learning how to cope with it, you know? I haven’t gotten out of it, but I still have it. And like I told you, I hear it mostly in the morning and at night. But I haven’t been as really bad as before, where it will wake me up every three hours, I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t work. I couldn’t even be a good mom to my kid. I mean, we were even questioning if we were going to have more children. Just really upset. It’s just seems like all my goals were upside down, but now I know I’m in a way better situation now, thank God.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yeah, thank you for your kind words, and there’s a lot, there’s a lot that you shared that’s very important. It’s not a black and white thing. It’s not a type of condition where it’s either a cure, or I have it. Either I have it, or I don’t have it. It’s usually some spectrum of, I have some of it, but is it affecting my life? How loud is it? How bothersome is it? In the last six months, what has changed for you? Is it the loudness of it? When you’re in a quiet room and you listen for it, how loud is that on a one to 10 scale, between now and six months ago? Or is it how much it bothers you, or annoys you? Tell us more about that.

Genoveva

At the beginning, it was really loud. It was like a 10. And I could hear it even coming out of my ears. It was just so loud and I couldn’t sleep. Right now, it’s like a two or three. And the skills that I have learned, like you said, like the skills and, you know, the counseling, you know, the support group, several support groups that I have joined, several counselors that I have joined, they have given me the practice, like all the practice that I have mentioned, and they have lowered the volume. I’m still working on it because I’m so new to it, it just happened to me last November, I’m still working on it, and then learning how to cope with it. But the fact that the volume went down, I never believe you when you said, “It’s going to go down, it’s just going to.” I , but it went down, thank God. And it is not controlling me. I think that’s one of those most important, like, I never thought I was going to control the tinnitus, but it’s not controlling, me or my life or my plans. And that’s where I think I was getting really depressed. Now it seems like I’m controlling the tinnitus, and I never thought I was going to be in that situation. Because at the beginning, I couldn’t even figure out what trigger it, or what, you know, so now I know it’s just like, okay, there’s certain I’m learning, I’m learning how to cope with it.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And through that process of learning how to cope with it, you are reducing it. You are reducing the tinnitus itself.

Genoveva

Correct. Correct, and I think one of ’em is just confronting it where not… I don’t fear it. ‘Cause at the beginning it was just so new, and the fact that we’re not giving to me any solutions, I don’t fear it no more. Through the group and through the support group, through America Tinnitus, if I have found really doctors that understand like yourself, what is tinnitus? So I have able to actually feel more confident that I’m getting the right information, I’m going the right path, and that also also has helped me not to be so stressed out about the situation. And so I think that’s one of the things that I highly recommend to get the support. You the support and all the tools and skills, and everything and fight it, you know, fight it. Like, when I learned where people were sending me… Because in March about the older man who committed suicide in Texas because of tinnitus, is I was like, “That’s not going to be me, all right? “We have to fight it, there have to be a solution “and we have to fight it.” And it was hard, it was really hard. But thank you, Dr. Ben, for providing the space because it has given us hope that there’s something that we can be done, and it’s not going to control our life, tinnitus is not going to control our life. Like, we can continue on with our life and having this problem.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

You’ve been a great example of putting the practice to work. And I remember at the beginning that we were focused on very basic, very fundamental things, but I knew that it was in your long-term interest to focus on the very basic, fundamental things first. And earlier, the first three months, you were in what we now call the urgent care phase, where you had a serious problem, and it’s as if you needed emergency help, or urgent care help, and you weren’t sure what to do. So in that urgent care phase, it’s very confusing and overwhelming. And when you’re not sleeping well, when you have high stress, high anxiety, I wouldn’t expect you to do much. I mean, just waking up, eating three meals, spending some time with family and going to sleep, that’s a full day when you’re operating on low energy from the tinnitus, insomnia and the stress, and anxiety. So, I’m so happy you were able to transition out of that phase. And like you said, “I told you it was possible.” The reason we’re making this podcast is to showcase people that, okay, even when the first few months are very tough, there’s still hope. You’re not finished with this. You’re not done with tinnitus retraining. You’re not done with keeping to work on the practices that you’ve learned, but you are definitely at a different spot than when you started. And I wanted to bring you on to showcase that positivity and that hope, because we’re not just talking about you coping with it and dealing with it. We’re actually talking about your volume went from, what did you say? Eight out of 10, to two or three out of 10.

Genoveva

Where I couldn’t even, I couldn’t… Remember Dr. Ben, I couldn’t even do a sentence without even crying ’cause I couldn’t figure it out. The noise was very, very loud, very loud in my head, and I was almost felt like I had a radio in my head controlling my head. So I couldn’t really concentrate, or read, or paid attention to even a movie in a TV. I really appreciate your support group, and my story can give hope to anyone out there. Please reach out to help for help, and there is hope. There is hope, and I understand the frustration of when you don’t see that solutions. And I think part of it, Dr. Ben, honestly, it’s because of the lack of information that a lot of doctors out there don’t know. It’s really frustrating. I actually shared with you that I changed insurers to get more private doctors. I went all over San Diego, over the nation, and there were other counselors too, who helped me a lot in those skills, you know, like a local doctor, Dr. Sarah, and you know, my counselor, Dr. Franco, and Dr. Hubbard also. Dr. Bruce Hubbard was also very key and essential in my therapy and my concentration and getting up. And in your support groups, just like hearing other people who are going through the same experience and that’s really validate me to like, make myself stronger that if other people went through it, really bad, like myself, and they got all right, I can do it too. And so, I want to share with the group that I adopted my nephew when my brother got murdered, when he was eight and my nephew is now the first man in our family to go to college, and I seriously thought I was not going to see that ever in our lives, moving my kid to college. But this weekend I have the opportunity to, and I was really focused and tinnitus was not even in my head, or my subject or anything. I was concentrating in moving my kids to college. And so I’m very happy that I was able to live that and really appreciate, and thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Ben, for helping me find me in the support. And all the doctors that I have mentioned too, for helping me through the process and my neurologist too, Dr. Barry. And don’t discard anything, like, do everything everything possible. Like, you know, I always say, “I fought like a lion to get back, you know?” But it was hard, it was really hard. But Dr. Ben, the first call that I remember of finding hope, was your call. ‘Cause it was really late when I call you, I remember, I didn’t even thought you were going to answer your call, but you did.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

I remember answering that call very well, because I was driving back from the grocery store. This was early on in my business when I was answering all the phone calls coming in. And it was after driving home from the grocery store, and I answered, and we had a long conversation while I was in the car. And, yeah, so what did that mean for you?

Genoveva

It meant a lot doctor. It was really late and I was giving up all hope. I was going with this not in my head and it meant a lot. And I, you know… Like right now I’m being the biggest support coordinator in my office. You know, I’m in