I have had tinnitus for over 25 years, ever since I became severely ill with M.E. The sounds heard differ between patients, but for me it’s a high pitched continuous whistle mixed with crackling white noise. Most of the time I can just ignore it but this becomes more difficult at night when I want to go to sleep and it’s quiet – the sound seems much louder then and is more intrusive. My solution is to listen to a talking book which helps my brain switch off from the noise, though I have to wear an earbud actually in my lughole – a loud speaker in the room doesn’t cut it.
At around 10.40pm on Christmas Eve, still suffering horribly from my cold and feeling rubbish, I decided it was time for some shut eye so I began preparing to settle down to sleep. As I turned off the light I became aware of the sound of music. Quite loud music, and to add insult to injury it was panpipes. Fucking panpipes! Who the hell has a party that loud on Christmas Eve in a quiet little hamlet?!
Grumpy as all hell, I get out of bed to try and find where the music is coming from. We have a huge holiday complex near where I live and quite often hear noise from there travelling at night, so I open the back window certain they would be the culprit……… but there is silence outside. The other most obvious noisy fuckers in the village are the young couple who live opposite and just up from me, who often smoke dope in their garage at 11 o’clock at night and play loud music in the house, so I open the front window but all their lights are off and there is dead silence.
I close the window and the sound of panpipes gets louder. WTF?! I pull on my dressing gown and venture downstairs, thinking I might have left the telly on or the dishwasher is making weird noises, but all is well.
It’s only then I realize there has been no break in the music. No coming to the end of one song and the beginning of another. The sound was continuous…………..and it was coming from inside my head 😮 Why on earth my brain would decide to play panpipe music, which I can’t abide, is beyond me and is also beyond annoying. Exhausted, I get back in to bed, put in my earbud and turn the volume up on my talking book. It only just drowns out the music.
The next morning I Google ‘brain playing imaginary music’ and discover a phenomenon called Auditory Hallucinations. I’m already familiar with visual hallucinations because I have migraines with aura, but auditory hallucinations are new to me. They turn out to be uncommon but not unheard of, particularly if you already have tinnitus. Super, another bloody symptom to be dealing with. I ask Santa for a £30 million lottery win or a handsome husband (either is fine, I’m not greedy) and get goddamn panpipes instead! I’ve no idea if this is now going to be permanent, or whether it’s linked to the fact I’m still suffering horribly with a cold and my entire head is full of catarrh – I guess time will tell.