In 2011, I suffered a severe acute acoustic trauma. Hyperacusis, tinnitus and sudden deafness, the whole shabam. Thank you, Prince @ Sint-Pietersplein Ghent…
During the concert, I didn’t notice that something was wrong, as the trauma had happened from the first second on. If the volume is extremely loud, the ears kind of “shut down” and you don’t feel the pain because of adrenaline rushing through your body. I was angry at the sound guy, because I believed that he was doing a very bad job, as everything sounded very muddy. It was only afterwards – 3 hours (!) later, that I realized that I was in trouble. I couldn’t understand a word of what my friend was saying.
I immediately contacted my doctor. Unfortunately, in Belgium, acoustic trauma is often being waved away. “Rest for a few weeks and we’ll see then.” Luckily, I am not a person to be shushed. I Googled, I informed myself, I contacted colleagues I knew had suffered ear trauma too. And everywhere I read and heard the same: You have to start treatment within 24 hours, otherwise it’s too late. Don’t listen to the doctors that tell you to wait and rest.
In the end, I had to call and beg 4 (!) hospitals before someone wanted to admit me for emergency treatment. Finally, Dr. Michael Boedts from Maria Middelares took me serious and said he was willing to give me everything I asked for. Even though some of the treatments were experimental. For 3 days, I was attached to a tank of carbogen gas and I received cortisone IV (I know… but this was one of these emergencies). For 5 consecutive days, I went into the hyperbaric oxygen tank. This is also a treatment for people with divers’ disease.
During my stay at the hospital, I created a private FB-group for musicians with ear trauma. It’s amazing how many colleagues have damaged hearing… So, we talked in this private, safe group and via PM. Not out in the open. Because there is a BIG taboo. People are afraid they’re going to lose jobs or be seen as bad musicians. It’s striking how the big majority of these people has received treatment too late, which has resulted in permanent damage. I don’t know anybody that has been treated the way I have been.
As a professional musician, my ears are my bread. I’m HSP, so I was used to hearing freakishly well. An audiologist once told me that I was not supposed to hear the sounds he was letting me hear at my age. So, you can imagine how afraid I was…
I am so extremely happy that I have trusted my gut the day that I have suffered the ear trauma. Calling the doctors & hospitals hurt like hell. I had to press the phone very close to my ear in order to be able to hear what they were saying, while every tiny little sound hurt. But I felt that I needed to do it.
And my eternal gratitude goes to dr. Michael Boedts. He literally has saved my hearing. It is oùr body, it is oùr responsibility to listen to it. When we feel that one doctor isn’t right for us, we hàve to go to another one that feels right.
Oh, how I regret that decision now. It did hurt. I only didn’t realize it until it was too late, as my ears shut down from the first second on. And as you know, Prince always gives his all… So I have tortured my precious ears for 3 hours.