Note: This post was written before Pearl’s passing. As far as we know she no longer hums.
One summer Pearl stayed with her daughter for a couple of days. When she returned, she brought with her a little something extra. A hum. It stops only when she is asleep.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it becomes extremely nerve-wracking to live with. It continues when we clean, when we listen to music, when we watch television, when we talk to each other, when we read, pay bills, visit with family, go somewhere, shop, nap, etc, etc, etc. But the worst time of all, is when we eat.
Asking her to stop or pointing out that she is humming again will get a chuckle from her. “I guess it’s a habit”, she’ll answer, then with the next breath, she will up the volume (hers goes to 11). I chalk this up to a memory loss and hearing loss combo. I know she isn’t doing it on purpose, or she would be forgetting to keep it up.
Ron and I play music during dinner to no avail. I will often plug in my headphones to drown it out but she is louder or deeper or something. I can still hear it. We believe that her hearing loss is so severe that she can’t hear herself humming.
When she lived alone, she would phone us to report a buzzing noise that got worse when she went to bed. We left whatever we were doing to drive over and investigate at different times of the day or night. We got nothing. Not even the sound of the furnace or freezer. We tried to explain to her what tinnitus is, but she was insulted that we thought it was all in her head.
Tinnitus is a sound of roaring, buzzing, tapping, ringing etc. It’s often called “ringing in the ears”, it has many causes but can become very loud to the patient who is losing hearing. Weird, right? Lying with her head on the pillow amplified the sounds.
She was convinced that her neighbor was running a machine at night, as the sound was always louder when she was in her bed on the side of the house nearest his. She was also convinced that he was using her electricity to run aforementioned machine.
Not the end of the story! Read on…
She called the police on him. More than once. One day as we approached her front step while he was in his yard, she pulled us aside and said this, “Don’t believe anything he says about me. None of it is true.”
Truthfully, I was a little excited to hear what he had to say, but he just gave us a nod and went into his house. I guess he was used to it.