Today I made a big step toward getting help for my misophonia. I made an appointment for a consultation with a woman in Portland, Oregon, who specializes in audiology disorders, including tinnitus, hyperacusis and misoponia.
I left a message with the doctor on Friday and she called me while at work on Monday. I left my desk and took the call, making sure I went some place where nobody could hear what I was talking about. She told me that the consultation costs $75. I said yes.
During the consultation, she said she will determine whether I have misophonia (no question there!) and then talk about the services she provides. I’m not trying to get my hopes up because I know that there is no known cure for this condition. But if I can learn any sort of coping strategies that might help me manage my misophonia, I’d say it’s worth $75 to learn about them.
I had always thought about eventually seeking help for misophonia, but something I learned about my family motivated me to actually do it. I recently found out that an older relative of mine committed suicide and referenced his struggle with tinnitus — or ringing in the ears — in his suicide note. That really frightened me, and I want to make sure I never get to such a dark place.
My appointment is not for a few weeks, but I will post about how the appointment went after I go.
Speaking of follow up posts, I wrote a post a while back saying I would test out musicians earplugs and how they work with blocking trigger noises. I got them in the mail and brought them to work to test them out. I particularly needed ear plugs at my office because of a woman who constantly chewed and popped her gum.
I have relied on disposable soft earplugs for some time, but it is hard to know when someone at work is trying to get my attention. And when I take an earplug out in order to talk to them, they either gave me weird looks or ask me why I was wearing them. The theory I wanted to test with musician earplugs was whether they would block the trigger sounds while letting me clearly hear when a person was speaking to me.
The short answer: No. They won’t.
It’s true that the musicians earplugs I tried allowed me to hear people talking with clarity, but they also let trigger noises through. I could hear every pop of the gum being chewed by my coworker. So, musicians earplugs work for drummers or guitarists who want to protect their ears while still hearing their music. But they don’t adequately block out misophonia triggers — at least not for me.
I did purchase the least expensive musicians earplugs, though. There are some that are custom made for the ear and are hundreds of dollars. But if the concept is the same in the expensive ear plugs, then I assume they would not be worth the investment.
I ordered some musicians earplugs online yesterday in the hopes that they will be more effective than the foam earplugs I currently use at work. Someone suggested musician earplugs in the comment thread to the New York Times article earlier this week about misophonia.
I should get the earplugs in the mail this week, and I’ll write a review of how they work. I’ve noticed my foam earplugs become less effective over time, and it’s not that hygienic to reuse them over and over again. My hope is that these new earplugs can be washed and reused, and that they will block out a lot of the soft sounds I hate while still allowing me to hear people clearly when they talk to me.
Also, I found a Misophonia Support tumblr (which has linked to my blog – thanks!) that informed me the Today Show did a segment on misophonia this week following the New York Times article. You can watch it here and I’ve also embedded the video below. Please be aware that a lot of the b-roll and natural sounds added to the segment are very triggering — a person eating an apple, a woman chewing gum, etc.
There is a great interview after the segment that filled me with hope to watch. The television journalist was treating the interviewee with misophonia in a respectful way, with belief and understanding. After receiving very little respect and understanding throughout my life in regards to my misophonia, this was an uplifting sight.
I was a little irked by the phrase “for people who think they have misophonia” when the journalist described the Internet support groups that exist. But all in all, I enjoyed the Today Show’s coverage of misophonia. Hopefully this week does not simply represent misophonia’s 15 minutes of fame, but instead is the beginning of a movement to help the medical community realize that this is a serious condition for many people.
Here’s the video on YouTube:
Today at work, a colleague of mine who sits a few feet away was chomping down on some candy, so I instantly put in my earplugs. Another coworker came over to discuss something important with me. I had to remove my earplugs and talk to the woman who had come over. The entire time, I was agitated by the sounds going on around me, and I think that irritability came out while I was talking. I was short, I didn’t fully listen to what was being said to me and I tried to end the conversation as soon as possible. I was experiencing several emotions: intense anger at the person eating candy, worry and fear that I could not immediately escape the noise, and guilt that I was taking my anger out on an innocent bystander.
It’s just another example of how misophonia can make everyday human interactions difficult.