I hope you won't mind the medical nature of this post, but if you've ever had a CT scan you'll perhaps agree that it really does seem like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. The idea of being fed through a machine as red laser lines make intangible marks across you, and having your veins injected with 'dye' so that someone else can see the inside workings of your head, your blood vessels, even your brain, is (no pun intended) pretty mind-blowing. And for us patients in the UK it's all for free. Thank you, wonderful NHS.
I couldn't help wondering beforehand what else might show up inside my head, though - a mouse's nest? A boxful of dreams? All the things I've ever lost perhaps (that hoover nozzle we were looking for the other day? My book on 1970s interiors that mysteriously went missing in 1995?) But, I'm glad to say, the thing they did find was the thing they were looking for - the answer to the question I've had going round inside there for the last three months: what's causing me to hear that 'flock of sparrows' that I wrote about here, cheeping away every second of the day...?
I'm so relieved to say it's not a tumour, or a narrowed artery, or a build-up of pressure around the brain, all of which can cause this Pulsatile Tinnitus. I've had two ECGs as well, and full blood tests, and things poked inside my ears and up my nose, plus a hearing test, and they all turned out ok, so it's felt like a long three months. But I found out last week, thanks to the result of the CT scan, that I do have an anomaly, which is an 'enlarged jugular bulb' (this, as a very lovely friend suggested, really should be the title of a track by Peter Hammill or the like, shouldn't it? I can hear it now, a noodly instrumental perhaps.)
After a lot of wondering, worrying and some dark nights (and days) of the soul, it's such a relief to have a diagnosis at last. For anyone who's interested in our incredible anatomy, as I understand it the jugular bulb is something we all develop at around 2 years old, a pouchy part of your jugular vein, at its top, where it bends round and forms a kind of junction with a sinus vein. My 'bulb' is now pressing against or protruding slightly into the inner workings of my ear and so it's like putting a loudhailer up to your jugular.... which perfectly explains why I can hear my blood flow pulsing past all the time (and seemingly a few other noises from inside my skull too - it's a busy place!)
I do wish I could get rid of the incessant noise but, unless things get very extreme or there are any physical developments requiring intervention, I have to learn to live with it. Habituation is the key - training your brain not to tune in, to ignore it - apparently the more attention we give something the more our brains automatically log its perceived importance (this particularly applies to anxiety too). So I must keeping working at it, and the lovely ENT consultant is going to monitor things regularly too; I go back for a follow-up in June.
In the meantime, music and art and other happy distractions are, as ever, therapeutic, and I'm so grateful I don't have to do a job which requires me to sit in front of a computer screen all day as that has definitely become a bit more tiring and uncomfortable for some reason. In fact my circumstances couldn't be better really, I draw and paint for a living (I've also reduced my hours a little) and I do it with music playing or the radio on, and birdsong outside my window. The cheeping of real sparrows is fine; Spring is, well, promising anyway, to turn up soon and at least the heartbeat in my head keeps confirming I'm alive!
Let's have some more Buzzcocks... they do seem to have cornered the market in tinnitus-related themes...
Glad all the more serious causes have been ruled out. Onwards with the habituation! And great choice of track.ReplyDelete
Thanks Martin. Think I may need to look into CBT to help with the habituation. Brain re-training!Delete
I've never had a CT scan, but I did have an MRI once, and that was bloody horrible.ReplyDelete
I'm glad it turned out to be a lesser ill, but still annoying, I'm sure. I admire your positive outlook, C.
I hear MRIs are far worse, so I'm sorry to hear you had to go through that, Rol. The CT is the quiet doughnut ring one, but it was the thought of the dye in my veins that scared me the most!Delete
Writing positive things helps me to feel more that way but I can't pretend it doesn't get me down too so it takes a bit of work - and grateful it's not something much worse.
I'm so pleased to read that you've had a diagnosis, C. Having a name and a way of living with it, if not entirely removing the issue, can be such a relief as of itself. When I saw 'jugular bulb' I immediately thought of Aphex Twin, but Peter Hammill would do a similarly great job with that title! And Buzzcocks to finish. Perfect!ReplyDelete
Thanks Khayem, all you say is true. An Aphex Twin title, ha, yes! And it also puts me in mind of abstract expressionist art - a Kandinsky piece, perhaps?Delete
Sorry to learn it is not something that can be fixed any time soon, that must be very frustrating. But good news that the worst possibilities have been ruled out.ReplyDelete
Thanks Ernie. (Similar thoughts crossed my mind to something you said earlier too! So no worries :-) )Delete
You spotted that did you? I removed it in case you thought I was being inappropriateDelete
You can be as inappropriate as you like here, Ernie - I appreciate the laughs.Delete
As Ernie saidReplyDelete
Surely Jugular Bulb was the follow up to Tubular Bells?
Cheers CC and ha indeed, there's a whole new concept album in the making there...Delete
I went in an MRI scanner with Isaac once, lying sort of on top of him/ with him, to keep him still while he was scanned. He was quite young. The noises of the scanner were quite droney and I quite liked them although it was an enclosed space i was happy to be out of. Isaac was too.ReplyDelete
What they didn't tell me was it would wipe the magnetic strip of my cashcard which was in my pocket.
That was such a caring thing to do for Isaac, it can't have been easy. The MRI scanner sounds quite a different beast to the CT one too.Delete
But arghh... the magnetic strip...not what you want!
Delighted for you that the avian squatters have been identified. Now they are known hopefully they will settle and become good neighbours.ReplyDelete
Thanks Ben. I do hope so too. I've discovered there's a whole online community devoted to pulsatile tinnitus - always good to know you're not alone! - so may get some helpful tips from there too.Delete
I'm so glad to hear that your worst fears have been ruled out C, it must have been such an awful worry for you. It sounds like you have a brilliant ENT consultant on your side. Hurrah for the NHS!ReplyDelete
Noise Annoys is the perfect soundtrack. Eardrum Buzz by Wire also fits the bill!
Thank you TS, yes it helps enormously to know the cause, our imaginations can go into overdrive when we don't know why something's happening. My hospital experiences have been exemplary so far, they really couldn't be better, I'm so grateful for the NHS and its wonderful staff.Delete
Oh, Eardrum Buzz! How perfect. I'd totally forgotten about that!
Sorry I missed this one - shame Wordpress doesn't allow us to have a sidebar showing "new releases" like you do on Blogspot.ReplyDelete
As everyone else has said, glad to hear you now have a diagnosis and although still very annoying I'm sure, not the one you were potentially worried about.
Glad you're experience of the NHS has been a good one.
That was me by the way, Alyson.Delete
Never worry - I think Blogger stopped the new post alerts to other platforms so it's hard to know now too.Delete
Thanks and yes, not the worst case scenarios thankfully. I've just signed up to the NHS wellbeing therapy providers in the hope of getting some CBT too. Could be interesting (and will hopefully help!)
And yes - couldn't fault my experiences so far with GP and hospital - when I thought about all the checks and consultations I've had and how much it would cost elsewhere, well... just so incredibly lucky to have our NHS. I would happily have donated something voluntarily towards each procedure.Delete