Catching part of the Sean Hannity show yesterday, I heard Hannity say due to his six week ordeal with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) he pretty much stopped shooting, despite a longtime involvement in the sport and having ccw’s in several states (including California). He did say he might take his son out this summer with a .22 but that’s about it.
It happened to me about five years ago when I was helping teach a firearms course as an assistant instructor. Dumb mistake: I forgot my own electronic ears and borrowed the range’s ears without knowing the condition of those ears.
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of commercials for tinnitus remedies so it seems the problem is on the rise. There are many groups affected—veterans, aging concert goers, motorcyclists—but due to the growth in the popularity of shooting many shooters are affected, and maybe it will help someone out there if I comment briefly about my own experience. I was never much of a concertgoer, never much of a motorcyclist, and I am not a vet, so I didn’t know anyone else with the problem and that made it worse.
First, let me say definitely go see a doctor with expertise in this area. In rare cases, the problem may have a physical origin other than loud noise, such as a tumor that a surgeon can remove. Nothing I say here is medical advice and I am not a doctor (of medicine). These are just my own experiences and your mileage may vary.
BAD NEWS: Most of the time, tinnitus is caused by excessive noise and there is really nothing they can do, it seems. They may prescribe some kind of pill for it, but that is just to give you something to rely on while your body and mind adjust to the problem. Be careful not to cause more health problems by overdoing it with any of these pills, and definitely stay away from alcohol (just makes it worse).
GOOD NEWS: You WILL adjust, and the problem will become minor and infrequent—eventually—it’s just a question of when. Many people recover in only a few weeks, as did Sean Hannity. In my case, it was absolutely horrible (my worst health problem ever) for close to a year and a half. Like Hannity, aside from the ringing I experienced some hyper-acuity—very strange and very scary. When it happened I was finishing up a masters in tax law and was interviewing for a job in a big law firm. I got the job, but it was a very rough year. After about two years, I would say the problem was minor. I would much rather have this then, say, back pain or a number of other common ailments. Most of the time I don’t notice the noise, and when I do my reaction is “ahh, so what” because I know it will disappear.
The cause is physical, but the recovery is mental. If you are like me and tend to focus intensely on things, your initial “horrible” period may be lengthy like mine. One particular thing helped me improve dramatically, and I urge you to try this: I started keeping track of which days were good, which were bad. Sounds simple and goofy, but it worked because it allowed me to focus on the positive, on the half full rather than half empty, and realize things were not that bad. After that, the problem immediately improved. It’s now been about five years and the problem is so minor as to not significantly affect me.
Deal with it as you must during the initial “horrible” period. When it happened to me, I took the Second Amendment bumper stickers off my Tahoe. I just did not want to be encouraging others toward guns when this awful thing could happen to them. The VERY next day, I got better bumper stickers advocating the Second Amendment even more effectively. As bad as the tinnitus was, I knew how necessary guns were given the direction of the country.
Although I’m sure many atheists get through this fine, I think it’s a huge help to have faith. Tinnitus really ranks up there as a faith-building ordeal. For me, it helped to attend Stations of the Cross and view it as sharing a small sliver of wood from that Cross. I also took sailing lessons.
Stay in good spirits. It WILL get better.
DO protect your hearing from further damage. DON’T let tinnitus keep you away from shooting, a responsibility we all have as free men. DON’T let it prevent you from teaching the next generation of patriots. Because of my experience, I discuss tinnitus and hearing protection at length in my CCW CLASS (http://worldexaminer.com).
Every concertgoer should attend my class.