$300 off tinnitus sound therapy. Limited time only.  Learn more

Try tinnitus maskers risk-free for 45 days. Start Now

Mark’s Journey of Tinnitus Habituation | Tinnitus Retraining Therapy

Mark has worked with us at Treble Health for Tinnitus Retraining Therapy via Telehealth.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Ben Thompson. I am here with Mark, someone who has worked with us for Tinnitus Retraining Therapy via Telehealth. 12 months ago, about one year ago, Mark was going through some of the hardest times of his life which he’s going to explain in detail. Now a year later, his tinnitus is significantly better, significantly reduced. Mark, please give us some background of who you are and how we found each other.

Dr. Ben Thompson checks in with his patient Mark to discuss his tinnitus habituation journey. 

Mark

I’m an educator and I work at a private Christian University and yeah, led quite a stressful life. The work-life balance was probably out of whack for a long time. And wow, I’ve started the tinnitus journey a year ago, as you mentioned and tinnitus is a journey, that even puts a positive spin on it. I’m not even one to do that but yeah December 20th, 2020 darkness descended acute tinnitus was raging and yeah, it was a pretty desperate time.

My wife was, we were, we were grasping at everything reaching out to ENTs, medical professionals, and my wife, who’s the researcher of the family, given my job and vocation. But yeah, she was online looking at tinnitus retraining or habituation conversations, neuroscience, and I was already kind of queued into that kind of thing from things I’ve encountered in my work with OCD folks and neuroplasticity. And so I was already set up for that and I was down for that kind of an approach and yeah, eventually I found Dr. Ben here and you were talking a language that I was, I thought had potential.

And so yeah, we signed up about April, where something got going then and yeah, it’s that’s how we found one another and it’s been a great, great, great journey, to move from darkness into the light a little more.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And the purpose of this podcast is to share an inspirational story of, “Hey, Mark is a normal guy, Mark has a job, Mark has a family, Mark is just like any of us. He’s made some good decisions, he’s made some bad decisions about tinnitus and you eventually got a lot better.” You eventually have habituated. So tell us about where you’re at today and we’ll go into the details of the steps along the way to get there.

Mark

Okay. Yeah, I’m to use language we’ve used in some of our sessions. How aware are my tinnitus right now? I would say I’m, if I go to look for it in my mind, I can find it. It’s still there. But the awareness as I go through my day that there’s something background noise is way under 5% of my waking time I would say, and the volume I would say is probably a one or on activities that kind of amp up my limbic system, my whole system, it could get a little, maybe like a two but still it’s not very noticeable. And it’s quite, quite quiet compared to what I have gone through, how we started in this whole last year.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

When we first met, you were describing that you were going through an intense process with the tinnitus.

Mark

Yeah.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

It was loud, you were having some panic attacks, tell us about really those first weeks to months and how was it affecting your life?

Mark

Yeah, I say darkness descended. This was the tinnitus, the onset of this was, it came from nowhere, to, you know, constant noise in my head and I would’ve put the volume quite high eight or something like that. It’s a little difficult to categorize because there is a great deal of subjectivity and perspective in here but it definitely was the greatest health crisis I had ever faced in my life. And I didn’t know how, how to manage, I’d had hopelessness, despair that I could ever be quiet function again, my job requires, you know significant periods of, you know, being in solitude and researching and writing and things like that. And it was all filled and all different. And so, yeah I’d say the first eight weeks were a critical period that you know, the hardest times were when it was there was no ambient noise, you’re just laying in bed or something like that and it’s just you and it, and I was afraid to even… it’s in one ear, it’s in my right ear, I was afraid to put that side of my face in the pillow, to just kind of lock it in. And like I said, that there are a couple, there were two definite kind of panic attacks, where it got very emotional, very hopeless and that’s why I say it was the most, it was the greatest health crisis I’ve ever… I didn’t know how I could function and how I would be able to move on. I’d dispared of life, really, it was very dark time for me and my wife bless her, bless her soul was hanging in there. And we had a couple of panic walks that she just had to take me around the block to change my outlook, my atmosphere. It was just so oppressive.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yeah and I have some notes here that you went to the ENT doctor who evaluated, did a hearing, they did a hearing test and the ENT doctor determined there’s no medical abnormality in your, in the structures of your hearing system.

Mark

That’s right.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And then that led us to working together eventually and eventually proceeding with hearing aids that were fit and programmed, according to the sound therapy protocols that we follow.

Mark

Right.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

So around that time, you reached out to me and the company was formally known as Pure Tinnitus, now is known as Treble Health, telehealth, tinnitus, education counseling, focused on the brain changes, focused on retraining, tinnitus. Promoting that neuroplasticity and what happened next? How much time did it take over the weeks and months following when you have the hearing aids that we have put program properly, when you have the professional counseling, to take away the stress, anxiety, the fears the unknowns and replace that with the facts, the education, the knowledge.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

What happened over the next months and weeks to come?

Mark

Yeah, I would say that, you know the biggest tool that I got from you Dr. Ben, was the empowerment of the knowledge of what tinnitus is and how there’s kind of a, it’s kind of a natural response that you need to kind of counter mentally with what you put your mind on but it’s I also appreciated from you. It wasn’t just a, you know, this is no big deal type of learning those types of techniques, that this is natural, that this is nothing wrong, that this is something you can manage but it was also moving into the whole body type of thing but I really appreciated that. So we had meditative types of things. It was a great time for me to reassess kind of a hectic life that I had led. I was became very convinced that my tinnitus was exacerbated by stress and maybe brought on by it. I don’t know, in my case, I know there are many sources of tinnitus but stress was a big one. I was burning the candle at too many ends and so just lifestyle changes. COVID helped that too, that naturally kind of reset everybody but in my life too, less demands. And so a better work life balance, started to notice got these sound generators in my ears and got all used to dealing with hearing aids, had a slight hearing loss but it wasn’t really a candidate that the ENTs would say that you needed hearing aids but it was not accident, I think that my tinnitus is in the ear that had the greatest loss, whatever mine was. And so, yeah, wearing those, we start to even, you know play with the amplification so that I can hear a few more things in the range that I wasn’t before apparently. So I noticed that there I was got started to get a few every eight weeks or so, a step down I was what I’d call it of the volume and where I would notice that even on the bad days, it wouldn’t be as, you know, bothersome or invasive intrusive as it used to be. And here again, I don’t know how much there is subjectivity and your perception. Maybe I’m just habituating and you know, doing that to it. But I would say that the volume, I think just on a raw a raw scale, the volume is less. And so there’s also, there’s that the physical side but there’s also the mental side of learning not only how to live but also what to think about and train your though processes, when you do notice this. And so, yeah, I started to gradually move through the months and here we are about 10 months later or so to the place where I am now. And it was a gradual step down in volume and also awareness. And yeah.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Are you able to read in quiet places right now?

Mark

Yes, I do.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Are you able to…

Mark

like I said, I have no notice of this, that it intrudes of what I’m doing.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Are you able to fall asleep without sound therapy?

Mark

Yeah, I do that. My tinnitus, I know some people have had tinnitus so that it does in intrude into sleep but mine has never done that. I’ve always been able to fall asleep but it was just terrifying. The moment you wake up and there its. But mine never kept me from falling asleep anyway.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Like going to a cafe or music, does that do anything or no, no effect.

Mark

Well, my tinnitus I didn’t notice that it would be amped up when the ambient noise would be greater. Okay and so if the environment was noisy, then I started to no notice the tinnitus was rising and seemed to be, so I had competing and it became quite noisy in my head. And even during, and I would say right now, I can go into a noisy place but the tinnitus, I’m aware of it and it’s a little more active, I would say but it is still nothing to what it was those early weeks and months and so I can still continue. And I think the hearing aid for people of my vintage, I think that I’ve become a believer in that, that it does help me in some places where there is a lot of conversation going on for me to be able to focus on on where I need to, the part of the conversation I need to. And so…

Ben Thompson, AuD.

that’s great.

Mark

I think that’s, that’s important for me too, just in my own journey.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And as well as keeping the best brain health possible, having the best access to sound is one of the, factors that have been cited in medical research as something that we can choose to do more of, something that we can act upon that has an effect of…

Mark

Right.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Keeping the brain healthy, keeping the risk of negative brain changes down, keeping good, keeping good health.

Mark

Yeah, I remember when you told me that a couple of meetings ago and I took note of that. People of my, we need to do all we can to conserve our brains.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yes, absolutely. And I think, your brain will be just all right.

Mark

Well, I hope a little better than just all right.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yes, yes, yes. Well, I’m happy to share your story. And the reason we’re doing this, is because if you saw this video 10 months ago, it probably would’ve helped you a lot. And that’s exactly what, that’s the feedback we get. If anyone who’s watching this right now on YouTube feels that way. Please give a comment, say yes this helps. Give us a comment and say, yes, this helps.

Mark

I think that’s very true for me. You know and since this, my journey here with tinnitus other people have asked me, it’s amazing the people that you run into that find you have this that they talk about there, that you didn’t know about. And so I’ve been able to point several to your direction but yeah, videos like this, I’ve seen ’em all and they’re all encouraging there’s hope. This is not something catastrophic that is life ending that’s for sure.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yeah, one of our main messages is there are things you can do.

Mark

Yes.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And you follow the protocol to a T, right? You follow this protocol very well under our guidance, under my guidance, which is the recommendation. I meet someone on the street, they say, “hey, my mother, my sister just developed tinnitus, what should they do?” I say well, scientifically, they should follow a system where there’s a professional an audiologist trained in tinnitus retraining therapy to provide consistent counseling and education over a matter of months. Plus the use of ear level devices for sound generators. That’s the foundation. Yes, there’s other things that can be done too, for anyone who’s listening, I highly recommend keeping that as your foundation and Mark, you’ve done that. So were there any hesitations along the way or maybe before starting, were you saying, “is this really going to work or.”

Mark

Well, early on, when I experienced my first step down, I started to have hope that this wasn’t catastrophic life ending. And that was part of the process. When I’m gaining knowledge, when you are giving me counseling, I’m getting my toolbox of, you know, meditation, stress relief. I started getting therapeutic massage and those types of things are, like I said the whole life things I will keep doing for sure. And like I said, I COVID and this tinnitus kind of gave me a reset to, you know, schedule management and a balance that is, you know, the body key keeps score. And my body was saying scores is unbalanced here.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yeah.

Mark

So you’ve been very helpful for me and you know, it’s changed my life really. It’s a threshold moment for the rest of my life.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And what is it that excites you in your life these days?

Mark

Oh, well, I’m currently enjoying a season sabbatical, our university grants that every seven years and so for the next six months, I can really concentrate on focus on some topics and projects that have been kind of languishing. Time for some travel and enjoying our family. We got four kids and they’re all in the process of launching recently married, newly new relationships. And so it’s a busy time with good things, for sure.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Excellent, excellent. So you are just like many people who are watching this and you did follow our, the tinnitus retraining therapy through Treble Health. It helped you, I’m happy to share this story. I want to, you know, just, just remind the audience anyone listening is that, it was a bumpy road at the beginning. You were trying some things out at the beginning and some of them probably didn’t work and you probably felt stuck and had some dead ends and that’s okay. We can still get better, even if that happens. Do you agree?

Mark

The body is an amazing thing. And I think that our job is to work with it and explore and to understand that when we do that we can really start to, you know, put the sail up direction the wind is going and enhance it. And so, yeah, what you brought to me in this journey was that and the better we can do that, the better things will go, I think.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

There’s a natural process of improvement, that the brain and the ears can do with tinnitus and that’s the wind. And as you’re saying, if we’re a sailboat we use our knowledge and our tools and we can adjust the sale and adjust the angle of the boat. And then we’re able to go faster and get to our destination quicker. It’s a perfect analogy.

Mark

Well, thanks. Yeah, thanks very much.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

All right Mark, Thank you for, for joining us here on today’s podcast. For anyone who is new or who has been watching videos for a while and would like professional consultation. You can find us at treblehealth.com. Mark, I’ll leave the last words to you.

Mark

Well, I would just say I highly recommend the offering, the professional services that you’ve offered. I benefited from it and I do con I recommend it to others that I meet a along the way.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Thank you so much.

Mark

Yeah, thank you.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Thank you so much. All right, take care, everyone. Talk to you soon. Bye, bye.

Mark

Bye, bye.

What To Do Next For Tinnitus Habituation

At Treble Health, we know the importance of having a comprehensive approach to tinnitus management. That includes neuroplasticity, sound therapy, and proper medical tests. We put together a consumer guide to help you master tinnitus management so you can improve tinnitus once and for all. Click here to get the free Tinnitus Guide: 2022 Edition

Want to speak with an expert audiologist about your options for tinnitus treatment instead? At the tap of a finger, you can schedule a free Treble Health Tinnitus Consultation today! You’ll be connected with a real audiologist, not a salesperson, and there is no obligation or commitment.

More To Explore

When does tinnitus become permanent and other tinnitus questions.

When Does Tinnitus Become Permanent?

Many patients that we work with initially come to us with similar questions regarding the permanence of tinnitus. Three of the most frequently asked questions

Recent Posts

CONNECT WITH TREBLE HEALTH

Treble Health Newsletter

Get exclusive guidance that we only share with email subscribers.