A long time ago, when I was still living at home with my parents, I was sitting at my desk getting some work done. As I plugged away on my computer, I suddenly heard a high-pitched ringing noise.
Oh no! I thought, It can't be!
Not an hour earlier, I had been listening to a CBC Radio feature on tinnitus - and now it was happening to me!
No, no, I thought, more than a little concerned, It can't be. It's just too much of a coincidence to be possible! There's no such thing as "suggestive tinnitus" is there? It can't be possible to develop tinnitus just by hearing about tinnitus!
Thinking and hoping that the noise was coming from my radio, I turned it off. It wasn't my radio.
Thinking and hoping that the noise was coming from my computer, I turned it off. It wasn't my computer.
I unplugged everything in my room. The high-pitched whining sound remained.
Walking into my dad's home office, I asked him if he could hear the squealing, infuriating "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeee". He couldn't.
My heart fell. It was so loud! Would I have to live with this my whole life? It was going to drive me crazy! I started thinking about how I could get immediate treatment for my spontaneous tinnitus.
Trying to ignore the ringing in my ears, I went back to my room and turned my computer back on, trying to get some more work done. It was hard to focus. I couldn't concentrate. The ringing was enough to drive any person INSANE!
Desperate, I looked down the vent. Maybe the noise was coming from the forced-air furnace! Yeah! The air was blowing as I bent down and stuck my ear over the vent. The noise got louder! It must be coming from the furnace!
I ran down to the basement, the noise following me every step of the way. When I reached the furnace, the furnace turned itself off.
The noise remained.
Confused, I went back upstairs to the kitchen. I opened the sliding door at the back of the house just wide enough to stick my head outside. The noise was quieter when my head went outside! I tried it again for good measure. It was definitely coming from somewhere in the house!
Search as I might, I could not find the source of the infuriating ringing. I checked with my dad again, but he couldn't hear what I could hear. How could he not be hearing it? It was churning out more decibels than a lawnmower!
Having run out of places to look and not knowing how to stop it, I resigned myself to getting some more work done.
It was hard. I was literally squirming in my seat. My eyes started watering. I was being tortured! After an hour, I had hardly made any progress in spite of my best efforts.
When my sister came home, she ran upstairs and asked, "What's that awful noise?"
With sudden relief I exclaimed, "You can hear it?! You can hear it, too?!?"
"Yeah, it's really annoying!" and with that, she locked herself in her room.
Leaping up out of my seat, I dashed to her room, flung the door open and asked, "Where is that noise coming from?!?!"
"You!" she exclaimed, "It's coming from you!"
It was only then that I looked at my watch. My trusty old Timex Ironman had gone bonkers: The watch, with its normally-quick hourly beep, had turned into a wrist-mounted sonic torture device.
I share this story to illustrate, not how much of a moron I can be at times, but my dad's hearing loss. At the time, I could not comprehend how he couldn't hear that infernal noise.
Or course there are studies that show hearing loss, especially in the high frequencies, occurs as we age. The use of the mosquito ring tone is an applied example of that (Click here to see what frequencies you can still hear). Lately though, I've been gaining an understanding of why we lose our hearing as we age.
It's because of kids. Little children are to blame.
Halia has discovered the joys of shrieking - and the kid has a powerful set of lungs. Jade, not to be outdone, reciprocates. It becomes a competitive shrieking match where each child seeks to outdo the other on both volume and pitch. The loudest, highest shriek wins. I can feel my ears failing a little with every shriek, and with every shriek battle, my sympathy for my dad's high-pitch hearing-loss grows. Sorry, Dad. Now I understand that I had something to do with that.
As for me, if you call my name and I don't respond, I apologize. I'm not ignoring you, I just can't hear you anymore.
Why don't kids come with volume control?