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Author Topic: The Bells Are Ringing (Hearing Problems)  (Read 34748 times)
Simon
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« on: May 12, 2012, 09:11:38 AM »

There comes a time in everybodyís life where they have to admit that things just arenít the same anymore.

Take Robert Ramsay for example; his cross dressing days while once a highlight of band rehearsals is no longer the sensational spectacle it once was. Jim has found that burning childrenís kites with home-made flame throwers holds less of a thrill these days, Paul has long since ceased spending time trying to irritate the Spanish ferry industry while Leon has now come to terms with the fact that itís just not as much fun to create life size replicas of human genitalia out of rice anymore.

For my part, I have stopped collecting pictures of giraffes on fire because lets face it, once youíve seen one giraffe at full gallop heading for a waterfall, youíve seen Ďem all.

All of the above has been part of the everyday lifestyle of Tinyfish for as long as I remember but we all understand that nothing last forever (except perhaps, The Apprentice or Little House on the Prairie).

If you are wondering why Iím talking such utter wank then clearly you havenít ready many of my blogs. In this instance however, itís because I have some rather bad news to impart and Iím hopelessly trying to soften the blow with toilet humour and mis-direction.

Breasts.

As some of you might know, around 2001 (cue Thus Spake Zarathustra), I was attacked by a gang of rather grubby youths on the platform of Teddington station in South London. I gave as good as I got but somewhere in the middle of the altercation, one of the young gentlemen decided to use my skull as a bottle opener. The subsequent concussion was mild (and quite entertaining when you consider the highly involved dreams I had under the influence of the uber strong pain killers I was prescribed) but it left me with a hearing condition known as Tinnitus.

For those of you who donít know, Tinnitus is a form of hearing loss that manifests itself as a constant ringing or rushing wind sound in your ears. It is rather rare for a blow to the head to set it off but we Godfreys always like to take the route least travelled. The usual method for purchasing Tinnitus is through being subjected to loud noises such as erÖplaying in a rock band.

Now might be a good time to warn you that I will be employing mental imagery throughout this blog to offset the seriousness of the subject matter and thus enabling everybody (including me) to get through this without being too depressed at the other end.

Ponies and Pandas, running gaily through Trafalgar Square, throwing flowers into the air as they go.

My condition back then was mild enough to be just a minor inconvenience and although I was subject to occasional attacks of extreme noise (ringing), it was over in a few seconds and pretty much forgotten about. All was well for ages after the event. Tinyfish was formed, songs were sung, womenís underwear catalogues were looked at and things were going swimmingly.

Just after Christmas of 2009 however, I had what Iíd describe as my first major attack. I was out with family at a restaurant to celebrate my birthday. We were walking up the street when all of a sudden I was engulfed in what seemed to me like an ear splitting sound which just would not go away. I tried to ignore it, thinking that like many of the attacks before it would ease up but the bastard noise just kept on going. I sat there trying to brush it off but became increasingly more agitated as the evening went on. After an hour, the ringing subsided somewhat which was a blessed relief but the warning bells had quite literally gone off inside my head.

Picture a nice family party with balloons, chocolate cake and jelly. Children run about happily while in the background, Grandma sits slumped in a chair after drinking entirely too much sherry. There is a faint smell of wee.

This was when I went for my first proper Audiogram up at the local hospital. Just so you are aware, an Audiogram is a series of tests designed to determine if your ears are playing silly buggers. I sat in a soundproof booth listening to various tones and sneakily wondering how much the booth cost. Youíre never off the clock when you are a musician it would seem.

The results came back and it wasnít good but happily it also wasnít the end of the world. The Audiologist asked me if there were any possible contributing factors which might account for my tinnitus and I told her that I was in a band. She arched an eyebrow in a way Iíve only seen Roger Moore and Spock achieve in the past.

ĎYeah, probably best not to do that in your condition.í She intoned.

I nodded sagely at her advice and then ignored it.

I joined the Tinnitus Association in the vain hope that subscribing to their quarterly newsletter might actually cure the condition. What I did discover is that Tinnitus is a very perverse form of deafness. Apparently the frequencies I hear take up some of the sound spectrum that a normal ear would pick up i.e. instead of things getting quieter, itís going to get louder for yours truly.

During 2010, the attacks started to happen more and more frequently but I kept quiet about it hoping things would go away. For someone in my predicament, this is a monumentally stupid thing to do. On my return from RoSfest, things were not getting any better so I secretly decided that Iíd give myself some time off from gigging and concentrate upon studio work. My hope was that it would give my ears a chance to recover somewhat. Even with the lack of gigs however, the attacks continued to increase and what was once maybe an annual affliction began to make its presence felt on a monthly basis.

I started to dread the idea of walking back on stage for fear of making things worse. I thought about using earplugs but you are effectively cutting yourself off from the one thing (the monitors) that keeps you in tune with the rest of the music. In ear monitors could also have been an option but I soon realised I couldnít permanently walk around with them in and any musician will tell you that youíre only one moment away from something feeding back onstage (especially at a soundcheck). It started to dawn on me that the next loud noise could be the one that triggers an attack which doesnít go away and it would be entirely self inflicted.

Shabba Ranks and Zippy from Rainbow, on skis, kissingÖwith tongues.

I thought there might still be hope and went back to the Audiologist to see  if there had been any degradation over the year since I had seen her and the results were pretty plain; I am going deaf (and not in a cool, hip-hop kind of way).

Over and above the Tinnitus, the audiologist discovered significant losses in the upper, mid and lower ranges of my hearing which werenít there the last time I sat in her sound booth.

This naturally is the worst possible situation any musician can face outside playing Celine Dion covers at a local wine bar. Iím not kidding you when I say that Iíd rather lose my genitalia than go deaf. Weíll if truth be told; Iím long past the time when my genitalia are going to impress anyone so saving my hearing in exchange for a little weight loss down under would be a pretty fair deal.

Upon hearing the news, everybody in the band was incredibly supportive. The only person that laughed was Robert but Iíll admit the reason he did so was because I was giving him the bad news through the medium of interpretive dance.

So you ask; where does that leave me and more importantly, where does that leave Tinyfish?

The short answer is that right now we donít honestly know. Currently Tinyfish has two more full shows to play this year which we fully intend to honour. After that, Iíll have to take stock of the situation and see if there is a way forward that produces the least inconvenience for everyone involved. There is no point gilding the lily however and in all probablity the shows in Swindon and Kingston in July are probably going to be my last live electric gigs for the foreseeable future.

No news like this is ever going to be easy to deal with. I fully recognise that me leaving the live music scene as a performer is going to be very hard to bear as I love it up there on the stage with the other toss...er, incredibly talented musicians that go to make up the band. Iím pretty sure youíve all seen the fun we have for yourselves and it seems terrible to think that no-one will ever see me in just my underpants on stage ever again.

Weíre looking at all the options available to us given the constrains this sodding condition is going to impose upon both me and the band but weíll let you know what happens next as soon as weíve had a chance to sit down together with a few beers, some party hats, a goat and a bucket.

Lots of love.

Simon & Tinyfish.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 09:34:55 AM by Simon » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2012, 09:24:42 AM »

As a tinnitus sufferer, who has also noticed it getting worse over the last few months, you have a great deal of sympathy from this direction.
My ear problems are from a combination of 30+ years of loud gigs, and the same time period of riding motorcycles (apparently the wind noise past a crash helmet is almost as bad as a Motorhead concert).
I'm was about to go to the doc to see if they have hearing specialists that I can consult, and your tale certainly makes me want to start the process sooner than later.
As for the you and the band, I can't say, but if it concerns your health, I'm sure you'll have our support whatever decision you make.
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2012, 09:39:45 AM »

:-(

Very sorry to hear that, mate...
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2012, 09:44:01 AM »

Wow, not the kind of news any musician wants, nor the fans of said musician(s).

Hope you can work something out - I know from personal experience that the in ear monitors a/noise sheilds are very good these days, if a tad on the expensive side, but as you say, you'd rather lose the danglier bits of you anotomy rather than your hearing so I'd recommend checking them out, maybe in conjunction with your audiologist
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A James
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 09:53:59 AM »

Blimey.  That is not what I wanted to be reading this morning, and not only because it mentioned pandas.

You just do whatever is best for you.  Nothing else matters.

(I presume this has not changed the deadline for Shineback)

No, seriously, nothing else matters.
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 09:55:08 AM »

Shock!
Worth checking again at some point & taking a break from live music.
Guy that plays drums in my band had it really bad a while ago after a severe blast from a monitor but he's a lot better(if more mad) these days so there is hope.
Don't know what else to say really Sad
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johninblack
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2012, 10:09:12 AM »

Really sad news Simon. I've suffered from hearing problems since birth and have mild tinnitus attacks now and again but fortunately not bad enough to stop me from playing and attending gigs. I really feel for you and hope that maybe there is a solution out there somewhere for you that allows you to carry on, even if it means less live work.
Fecking gutted.......
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2012, 10:13:05 AM »

I feel for you Simon.  Tinnitus is one of the conditions that Carolyne (my former partner) is afflicted with - in her case, brought on by a serious road accident about a year before I met her.

Clearly the only important thing here is your health.  I am not an expert - only an expert in living with someone who has the condition.  One of the problems that Carolyne had was inability to sleep because of the noises that the tinnitus, which I, of course, could not experience.

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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2012, 10:34:29 AM »

Terrible news Simon, I had a bad attack for a month a couple of years back after Nico's gig in Bromley. Scared me silly and like Rob says, sleep time (or lack threrof) was the worst. I'm never without my earplugs at gigs now. Most important thing is your health.
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 10:42:52 AM »

There's nothing wrong with him, he's just feeling bad because of the giraffes...

...but seriously...bad news, this, primarily because tinnutis is such an intractible and debilitating condition. Your health has to come first, mate, for the sake of your own sanity.

I'm sure you and the guys will explore all the options, and actually, there are loads. Quite a few excellent music acts rarely or never perform live - Big Big Train is the one that springs to mind immediately - and although Tinyfish gigs are always a great live act the 'crown jewels', for me, are the recordings, and particularly the last album.

They say that curry is an excellent remedy for all hearing conditions.
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 11:04:21 AM »

Terribly sad to read this.  I can't even imagine how you must feel.

In 1995(ish) I had a hearing test as part of my employment requirements with ICI. They found that I had above average hearing in the low and high frequencies, but mid frequencies, particularly around the human speech area was only slightly above the threshold for being classed as a disability (my own built-in smiley EQ).  This means I find it very difficult to understand people when there is any kind of full frequency noise in the background (such as music).  They compared it to the original test when I first started (15 years previously) but that wasn't detailed enough to be definitive.  It showed a similar tendency as the new one, but the resolution was such that it could not be confirmed as actual hearing loss or measurement error.  They said they would send the info to my NHS doctor for further tests and to monitor it for further degradation.  That was the last I heard about it  Roll Eyes Tongue  I then escaped the country and haven't done anything about it since.  Reading your post makes me think that perhaps I should.

As everyone else has said, the most important thing is your health, protecting and maintaining it and everyone will support you in that I'm sure.  I can only hope that you find a way to stabilise or improve the situation and that you can still find an outlet for your creative/exhibitionist urges under whatever context.
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 11:06:57 AM »

So sorry to hear this Simon  Sad
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2012, 11:30:00 AM »

I can only hope that you find a way to stabilise or improve the situation and that you can still find an outlet for your exhibitionist urges under whatever context.
Bloody hell, don't say that!
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David 'Wilf' Elliott
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2012, 11:33:43 AM »

First off I must tell you the first thing I thought when i read that post:

Does the Tinnitus Association newsletter have cover CDs? I can just see track 1 entitled "700 Hz".  Smiley

Now that's dealt with.


Bummer. Dude. That sucks and not in a 'ha ha' hold index finger and thumb on forehead at 90 degrees kind of way.

Rick

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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2012, 11:35:45 AM »

I can only hope that you find a way to stabilise or improve the situation and that you can still find an outlet for your exhibitionist urges under whatever context.
Bloody hell, don't say that!

Compromise?

Quote
find an outlet for your exhibitionist urges under whatever (legal) context.

 Cheesy
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