This is sort of a musical topic, but I should probably warn you that it's also one with A MESSAGE. No, nothing too heavy or preachy, but do I ask that you'll indulge me for a little bit, and if you enjoy music, I hope that might even consider some advice.
If you're of a certain age, or you like reruns of old back-and-white TV comedies, you might associate the title of this post with the image I posted. That's Lurch (played by Ted Cassidy), the butler from the Addams Family, and he uttered his famous "you rang?" line after Gomez or Morticia summoned Lurch by pulling the cord and ringing the gong.
That's some classic schlock TV, complete with a omnipresent canned laugh track, and while I intentionally used that line to evoke a smile, I do have another reason for mentioning a reference to ringing.
Because I have tinnitus -- a constant ringing in my left ear. To me it sounds like an ever-present high B-flat, with a pulse that matches my own heartbeat.
I've had a complete check-out by an audiologist and an otolaryngologist -- that's the fancy term for the common "Ear, Nose, and Throat" (ENT) physician that specializes in ear issues. And so I know that it's "nothing serious", and just a sign of a significant loss of the ability to hear higher frequencies in that ear. The doctor called tinnitus "the auditory equivalent of phantom limb syndrome," where my brain wants to fill in those missing frequencies with something and so it generates the sensation of hearing a ringing in those frequencies.
It's a relatively common condition, especially for people who have had frequent or long-term exposure to loud noises. My exposure? Well, I bet you can guess...
I play electric guitar. There were lots of times I used to play it LOUD, especially during my teen years. With my left ear facing the amp so the guitar pickups would be facing away to minimize feedback. In my old teen garage bands, what we lacked in talent we usually tried to make up for in volume.
Plus as a teenager I went to many concerts and usually tried to get as close to the stage as possible -- this was the days of open-floor "festival" seating. I saw this in concert four or five times before the age of twenty, from very near the amps:
And Ted played very, VERY, VERY, VERY LOUD!
I used to joke at school that my ears rang all day long the day after the concert. Now I think that maybe it wasn't so funny after all.
In my twenties, I came to my senses and started wearing ear protection when I played, and trying to get everyone to turn down during practice, and sitting much further back at concerts.
But the damage had already been done -- I just didn't realize it until my late 40's. And now in my 50's the ringing is there all the time.
It's just something I have to live with -- there's really no cure. And most times I do OK. I've gotten to where I don't notice it most of the time, but then other times it's maddening.
Plus, even without the ringing, I know that I'm missing high frequencies. There's a gap in what I hear, particularly in my left ear. I try not to over-compensate and crank the treble, especially on anything I record.
But my ears are forever damaged, and no matter how long it keeps ringing, Lurch is never going to come in and ask if, "I rang?" Because it's not a joke. It's serious and it sucks.
<MESSAGE> Please don't let it happen to you. Protect your hearing. </MESSAGE>