Tinnitus Success Story – Pattie – #20

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode 20 of the Pure Tinnitus and Hearing Podcast. I’m the host, Dr. Ben Thompson of Pure Tinnitus. Today we are here with Pattie and her husband, and Pattie is going to share her story of tinnitus and how she went from very loud, obtrusive, annoying, bothersome tinnitus to a significant reduction in her symptoms. And any time I work with a patient via telehealth who has this kind of success story, I do my best to share it to motivate and inspire others. So, Pattie, I’ll pass it to you. Please tell us a bit about what happened around the time of your tinnitus when it began in April 2020 and bring us into that place initially. Welcome.

Pattie

Thank you, Ben. It’s a pleasure to be here. Yes, I want to help anyone that has tinnitus. And actually my story kind of started at the end of 2019 when I developed a heart problem. And so I was really anxious from all that, and so in April ’20, the tinnitus started, and it was horrible. It was so loud. I was afraid to tell people that I had this noise in my ear because I was afraid that they would think, oh boy, she needs to go to a home or something. I didn’t tell my husband for the longest time or go to the doctor. But anyway, that said, I finally told a really good friend of mine, and she knew all about the tinnitus. And so I was really surprised. So she was happy that I had shared my story with her. So then I shared my story with Terry. It was not only loud noises. It was also some music that would kind of float in and out, and that was quite scary.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

You had musical tinnitus, and you had some other noises like ringings. Is that correct?

Pattie

Yes, really loud ringing.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And I actually had some notes of those initial times. Eight months later, we actually met, but for those eight months, what was your life? What was your experience of dealing with this tinnitus? How did it affect you?

Pattie

It was really bad. It was really bad. I talked to my husband about it, and then finally I had to go to my doctor. And so he checked my ears and everything, and he said, “Oh, your ears are fine. but do you want to see an audiologist?” I said, “Yes.” And so she came in to Hilo from Honolulu. And then it was quite scary because I was in denial because she told me, she said, “You’re deaf in both ears.” Oh, okay, thank you. See ya. But the tinnitus was so loud. It was night and day all the time. It was really, really scary. And so, yeah, I was living with that for the longest time.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

I have a note that you said your general practitioner, your doctor, they said, “It will always be there. There’s no way it’s going to go away.” Is that correct?

Pattie

Exactly, that’s what he said. And so me being the person I am, I wouldn’t accept what he said. So you can ask my husband. I was on my iPad practically day and night until I found a, would find a solution. So I found a couple of solutions, but then I met Ben, and Ben was my really big hope for my tinnitus.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Before we get too deep into that, so that was eight months after you’ve had tinnitus.

Pattie

Yeah.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

In those eight months, did your volume change? Did it stay the same? Was it constant?

Pattie

It was constant thing, and I was crying. Or I would come out, and I’d say to Terry, “Well, today we have got a siren going off in one ear, and something else going off in the other ear.” I mean, it stopped my whole life. It did. Everything stopped. And I wanted to find a good solution for this, and for eight months, it was bad.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

When you got the hearing test, and they said, “You’re deaf,” well, I reviewed your hearing test. It didn’t show that you have complete hearing loss because you’re actually able to hear, but it did show that you had some hearing loss in the high pitch tones, correct?

Pattie

Yes, and it happened to be my right ear, which is really the worst. Now, my left ear, I could hear. I could hear. And so I talked to Ben about all this. I sent him my hearing test. He went over it, and he confirmed pretty much what the audiologist here in Hilo said. But I didn’t want to hear that hearing aid word. But Ben was, he was so good about it. He just kind of gently nudged me a little bit toward the hearing aid idea. And so finally I went to an audiologist here in town who is also really pretty good, and he didn’t push me.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

So you and I started the tinnitus retraining, which is the individual education, the individual counseling.

Pattie

Yes.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And part of that was recommending, hey, you have a hearing loss, and you have tinnitus. Let’s follow the protocol. Let’s get hearing aids that also have sound therapy inside of them.

Pattie

Think so.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

So we did that, and we also were working on the holistic part of this. So you were sharing that the hearing aids, did they help immediately, or did it take time to adjust to them? What did you notice in that process?

Pattie

They helped immediately. I love my hearing aids. I do because they really helped me so much to get my life back together. And I’m not afraid of them anymore. But, yes, they helped immediately. If anyone out there has partial hearing loss, and you need to have hearing aids, do it. They’re expensive, but do it because now I can hear all kinds of sounds, and I wear them all the time.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

So around winter, around December or so of 2020, now about eight months after you develop the tinnitus, you started the tinnitus retraining, hearing aids plus sound therapy plus individual professional counseling together. And also you had a holistic part of this. You were taking a holistic approach as well. So can you talk to us about what you did because now your tinnitus, as you told us, or as you will explain more, is essentially nothing even with the hearing aids off, and that’s quite incredible. So I just want you to work us through, what did you do for the last six months in terms of the holistic part of this?

Pattie

What I did was I never walked into a quiet room. I always had some sort of music going. I like Zen, water, that kind of thing. So even in the kitchen, I have like a little thing that you can turn on. And bedroom, I always had music going. Everywhere I went, even if I didn’t have my hearing aids in, the music was there so it could fill my brain with something else other than the tinnitus noise. And that’s what really, it turned my life around because I’d think, yeah right. This doesn’t work, but it works. And to this day, my tinnitus gotten so much better that I don’t even notice it anymore. And if I do notice it, I stop, regroup, take deep breaths, and do my good breathing. And it’ll pass. It’ll pass. But now it’s quiet.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And what was the volume level consistently for your tinnitus before you started the retraining, and then what is it now six months after you did?

Pattie

Before, it was so loud. It was so loud that I couldn’t sleep. No, I couldn’t sleep at night. My poor husband, I was up to two, three o’clock in the morning, walking the floors, but he was so good to help me work through this part of my tinnitus. And now it’s a one. It’s a one. it’s a zero, actually, even without my hearing aids in.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And that’s very hard for some people to believe almost because we think, oh, the hearing aid helps with my tinnitus, but then when I take the hearing aids off, it’s back to what it was. But from what you’re telling us, that’s not what you’re experiencing at all.

Pattie

No, not at all. If you still do the retraining, and I do even without my hearing aids, I still have some sort of noise going whatever room I’m in. The televisions might be going, or the radio might be going, or there’s other noise. Even when I’m outside, I’m experiencing new sounds, new noise.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

You took the sound therapy part of this very seriously.

Pattie

Yes, I did, and I still do. I still do.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And now, if you have no sound therapy, if you’re in a quiet room, what do you hear in your ears or in your head?

Pattie

Nothing. It’s quiet.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And I asked you earlier, I asked you,

Pattie

Quiet.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

I asked you, Pattie, if you told this story eight months ago, what would you think if you were the person viewing your story instead of the one telling it?

Pattie

I think they would say yeah, right. How could that happen so quickly? Yeah, well, she must, he must be paying her to say these things. And he’s not, and I’m not an actress. I’m a real person. And it really happened. If you just follow the protocol and do the sound therapy, and if you need hearing aids, get them and keep doing the sound therapy. And it’s changed my life back, you know?

Ben Thompson, AuD.

So happy to hear that. So happy to hear that, and we can celebrate that. And did you also practice meditation and things like that, taking care of your health other than your ears and the sound?

Pattie

You know, during the first stages of the tinnitus, it was hard for me to meditate at first because I couldn’t bring my thoughts together because it was so loud. But now, and I found you can meditate anywhere. You don’t have to be in a special place or anything. So, yes, I do deep breathing, and I do meditate when I’m outside or when I’m sitting quietly. So, yes, deep breathing and meditation was a big part of my life.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And I have a quote that you shared with me the last time we spoke. And you said, “Even though I was hesitant,” that me, Dr. Ben, was gently pushing you forward through the protocol and making sure you were doing it. So did you feel some hesitation and some resistance at the beginning of not being sure if it would work for you and things like that?

Pattie

Yes, of course. Just like anyone, you’re not sure. And you’re thinking the hearing aids, you think about, okay, maybe your aunt who had these old-type hearing aids where they were loud all the time or ringing or something. But these hearing aids that I have are just, they’re awesome. And I can turn on a noise in my hearing aids if the tinnitus gets loud, but I don’t have to use it. I don’t have to use it at all, and, yeah, it’s pretty awesome. But, yes, I was really hesitant. But Dr. Ben was so good about just gently pushing me and not really saying this is what you got to do. And then I talked to my audiologist here, and he did another hearing test and confirmed everything. And there, again, he didn’t push, he didn’t push.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

So we had a team approach, and it worked. It did work.

Pattie

It did.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And how about you and your husband now, of course, being in relationship and going through loud tinnitus? It really affects relationships. I see that every day with the clients that I help. And do you want to comment, either of you, on any of your relationship or how the tinnitus was probably a central theme in your household for a while?

Pattie

Well, I think once Terry understood about the tinnitus and everything, he really became concerned. And he helped me through it. He was there every step of the way with me. He was my big support. If I didn’t have that kind of support, it would be hard to get through the tinnitus. So yeah, he was my big support in helping me. He understood. He was very patient. So, don’t make me cry.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

I will not make you cry. Terry, how you doing back there?

Terry

I’m doing fine. She’s always been able to hear me. So I always thought, why do you need hearing aids? She’s always been able to hear me every time I talk, so I kind of said, “Well, you have to do what you have to do.” I never stood in her way. I said, “Just do whatever you have to do to get better.” There wasn’t much I could do outside of,

Pattie

Support.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And what have you noticed, Terry? What have you noticed in terms of joy, happiness, her energy levels? Of course, living together, you’re very on the pulse of that. So what have you noticed over the last eight months?

Terry

Every day I ask her, “Well, is it a one or a 10 day?” Last week, it’s always been number one, which is very good. So things right now are good.

Pattie

Yep, it’s been a number one. That’s what you need to strive for, is that number one to where the tinnitus is, eh, you know, I don’t think about it, really. If I have a little stress, it might try to come in, but then I do my deep breathing, and it’s gone. So, that’s a big relief.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And how long has it consistently been like that for you? Obviously, there’s a transition. There’s a progression to it, but how long have you been living in this space of one out of 10 days?

Pattie

Let me see. Just actually, what, about three weeks? No, it’s been longer, one out of 10 days. It’s been couple of months, a month, couple of months that I’ve been.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

And moving forward, just like you said, there may be some periods of stress or a temporary change in the tinnitus, but there are tools, there are resources. It’s not a permanent change. So I’m so happy to share your story. And, again, for anyone who’s listening or watching, the reason we’re doing this, the reason Pattie, Terry, and myself are doing this is to hopefully help the individual or the family of someone who is where Pattie was maybe eight months ago. And do you have any messages for that person who’s listening or watching, Pattie, with the caveat that not everyone has your exact history. So we can’t absolutely say that if someone follows exactly what you did, that it would work for them. But we try to follow the protocols that work for most people. Do you have anything to share to help others?

Pattie

Get a hold of some good resources about tinnitus because there’s some not-so-good and good. So follow what you can. Listen if you’ve gone to see an audiologist, listen to what he has to say. Just choose your own path and go for it and do the best you can. And you’ll work through it. You’ll work through it.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Yeah, thank you so much, Pattie and Terry, and this has been episode 20 of the Pure Tinnitus and Hearing Podcast. We are sharing stories. We’re sharing professional interviews. This specific conversation is really important and dear to my heart because, to me, there’s nothing more valuable than helping someone out of stress, insomnia, and suffering into a place of peace. And, Pattie, I’ll leave the final words for you guys, and then we’ll sign off. Please take it away.

Terry

Back to golf, US Open, yay!

Pattie

Just listen, just listen to what good people have to say about tinnitus. And like I said before, get yourself some good things to follow. It’s got to go through certain, you need to just take it one day at a time, one day at a time, and it’ll work. It’ll work for you. Just get some good information. Try to follow certain kinds of protocol, and it’ll happen. It happened to me. It’ll happen. And I was skeptical, but just follow your heart on what you need to do. Get some good people behind you and go for it, and it’ll be great.

Ben Thompson, AuD.

Thank you so much, Pattie. All right, everyone, talk to you soon.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson is an audiologist in California and founder of Pure Tinnitus. Dr. Thompson has a comprehensive knowledge of tinnitus management. He completed his residency at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a past board member of the California Academy of Audiology. Via telehealth, Dr. Thompson provides services to patients with hearing loss and tinnitus.

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