I have been suffering from Tinnitus for over a decade and recently my symptoms have become far worse. The ringing in my ears became so loud that I could hear it over the tv, conversations and just about everything else. I also developed Hyperacusis which is a sensitivity to noise. I could not be around anyone or anything. I spent months at home in my room, only leaving to cook food or go to appointments, the bank or the market. I couldn't have company over and I had to tell my family that I couldn't stand most noises, it was that bad. My laptop volume didn't go past "4" (even with earplugs on) and I couldn't bother with the television as it would have to be turned up higher than I could stand it in order to understand anything.John C.
A friend found about the Mario Hearing Clinic and I eventually gave them a call. I met Dr. Mario and was happy to speak with a medical professional who tells you exactly what is going on with your health. He is an honest, no-nonsense gentleman and let me tell you, after seeing literally dozens of doctors over the last decade and a half (I have many health issues), it was refreshing to meet another one of the few out there that tells it like it is. He was happy to answer my questions during each of my visits and even called me on the weekend to see how I was doing with the treatment. I was given a pair of instruments that rest in my ears which create static noise. He explained everything I needed to do including what changes needed to be done around my home environment (carpets to muffle sound and the like) to achieve success.
Within just FIVE WEEKS of treatment I had healed as much as patients who had been using the therapy for five MONTHS! My Hyperacusis went down so much that I can play music on my laptop and turn it up! High, even! My tv is once again being used and the volume control is no longer dusty as I can raise the sound level up to a normal amount or even further! Sounds of other people don't bother me as much now, nor do the engines of eighteen-wheelers driving by my car. Dr. Mario was very impressed with my results and stated that I broke a record! Go me! lol
I honestly don't know where I'd be without the Mario Clinic. I spent four months without listening to music and now, I can once again engage in one of my favorite hobbies. I'm continuing the treatment and the good doctor and his friendly staff are always just a phone call away if I need anything (and yes, folks, he's a doctor that gets back to you!) I feel revitalized and hopeful! Trying out and sticking with this sound therapy is one of the best decisions I've ever made. My highest possible recommendation!
My family is relatively healthy, both mentally and physically. I grew up with the mentality that both myself, my parents, and my brother were immune to such problems like disease or disorders, simply because I had never undergone such experiences. Yet this mentality was shattered by the time I turned fourteen and learned that I had what some scientists are now calling a neurological disorder. Misophonia, which literally translates into “hatred of sound,” is a condition in which negative emotions are triggered by specific sounds, loud or soft. My symptoms first appeared around the age of twelve or thirteen, when I noticed that the sounds of other people eating crunchy foods, like chips or salad, sent me into my room in a panic. I simply couldn’t understand why these sounds were creating this much agony in my life. From that point on, my list of “trigger sounds” grew quickly. It wasn’t just limited to crunchy foods; any type of eating angered me, as well as mouth noises of any kind, loose change jingling in a pocket, clicking from texting, computer mouse clicking, muffled noises (i.e. muffled music or TV shows through walls, dogs barking, rattling sounds in the car, etc. It really felt like anything and everything annoyed or angered me, and I truly felt as though I was going crazy. My reactions to these sounds, I thought, were irrational and unjustifiable. I was immediately filled with rage, anger, and disgust. I felt hot and my entire body shook. I would do awful things, like scream and yell at my family, mimic the noise, squirm, cover my ears and hum, or dig my fingernails into my arm, to the point where I drew blood. I would often run to my room upon hearing a trigger noise and cry. I started to draw away from activities like going out to dinner or to the movies, where trigger sounds were sure to be heard. My parents assumed these reactions were unprovoked and couldn’t understand why I was behaving in this way. As a young hormonal teenager, I couldn’t control the emotional complications of misophonia. I hated myself for being this way, but hated myself more for causing my family distress. In time, my family and I researched these symptoms and discovered that there was a logical explanation behind them: misophonia. Quickly, I began therapy sessions and we purchased Bose headphones. Yet, despite these efforts, I still felt as though nothing was getting better. I still had panic attacks and uncontrollable rage. I was struggling in the school environment, where many trigger noises are heard, and was miserable at home. That’s when my mom began researching other treatment options and came across Mr. Mario’s website, the website where you are reading this testimonial. Mr. Mario reassured my family and I that I was normal, that I was not going crazy. He quickly began treatment by prescribing me white noise generators, which I wear during the day. They are small and are placed directly in my ear to produce a white noise that works to block out most trigger sounds. I also started, and continue to have, regular appointments with Mr. Mario to talk about coping techniques and ways to build up my tolerance to certain triggers. I don’t live trigger free and never will, but with the help of Mr. Mario, my family, and my close friends, I have an unwavering support system that works to my advantage. I can honestly say that through the development of this disorder, my family and I have grown stronger. They have seen the ugliest side of me, and still love me unconditionally. I am so grateful for that. Although certain days are harder than others when it comes to misophonia, I am no longer afraid to face the world head-on. I have dreams and aspirations that involve college and a nursing degree. These dreams are possible despite the negative emotional effects of misophonia, and Mr. Mario constantly reminds me of that.
E. Keeler, Age 17
THE QUIET SOUNDS TO HELL
By Donna C. Carroll
I think I was brought up like most children. At an early age, I was taught to pray for peace. I remember thinking that peace basically meant everyone getting along and being happy in this world together. It would mean a time without wars. As we all know, that simply does not seem to happen in life, but that is what we pray for. When I look back on my life, I feel that I was truly blessed. I was born with a mild case of Cerebral Palsy. As anyone does in a situation like that, you accept it. That is life as you know it. It is much harder to accept medical problems as they arise through the years as you remember the difference in your life before this new disability came about. People say it is hard to get old. I never really thought much about it until I reached 60. That was when my body and my life seemed to change. At first I wondered what was happening to me, and then I realized that is what happens to people’s faces as they age. You never know the future. I think I always accepted my life with Cerebral Palsy because I always found comfort in the fact that it never progressed. Suddenly, as I was approaching the “big 60”, though, I was informed that I had arthritis so bad that both knees would eventually need knee replacements. They recommended that I hold off as long as possible, and I am still holding off. Two days before my 60th birthday I was diagnosed as having Aquinas in my right foot and, evidently, it was caused by the Cerebral Palsy. I learned to live with and accept these problems in my life, but did not know the worst was yet to come. One night as I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep I realized that I could hear the tune of “Happy Birthday to You”. I shortly realized that there was nothing in sight playing music, and it was in my head that I heard this. It was so quiet and faint. It almost sounded like a lullaby. It just kept playing over and over again. It was so repetitive that it became frustrating, but it was so faint that I told myself to try to go to sleep with the music. It took quite a while, but I somehow managed to get to sleep. The next morning when I awoke the music was gone. I thought it was a very strange thing to happen, but I survived it. It was over, so I put it behind me. That was what I thought anyhow. The next night when I was trying to go to sleep there it was again, the same song, over and over again. It became a nightly ritual. Before I knew it there were two songs playing at the same time. I kept hearing “Happy Birthday to You” and “Tora, Tora, Tora” together. It was becoming a real nightmare. I shortly realized that it almost sounded like a radio when the stations were not set right. It was a lot like turning on the car radio and it was playing two stations at the same time. As if that weren’t bad enough, before I knew it the music was even playing day and night. It soon got to the point that I never knew what I was going to hear next. The tunes were continually changing, but once a tune started it could last for days. Sometimes it would be one tune at a time; other times it could be more. There was one time that I heard the tune of “The National Anthem” continuously repeating over and over full blast in my head for 2 continuous days. I might be a patriotic person and that is a lovely tune, but after listening to it repetitively for so long it certainly is enough to drive a person crazy. This brings me to what I consider to be the worst part of this disease. Who in their right mind would want to admit that they hear music in their head? It is one thing to admit that you have a medical problem, but telling someone that you hear music in your head naturally makes you feel that you have really gone crazy. I cannot deny it. I kept this condition my biggest secret for many months because I did not want people to think I was crazy, and I myself was beginning to feel that I was. I was so ashamed to be going through this that I did not tell a soul (not even my husband) for several months. My husband found out in the worst way possible. My husband is so lucky; he can sleep through anything. Here is a man who has been known to sleep through thunderstorms and yet he was awake enough to hear me in my time of distress. After listening to the same continuous monotonous frustrating sounds for hours, I was so desperate that I found myself mumbling. My husband happened to hear me say “If only the balcony railing weren’t so high, I think I could jump”. Considering the fact that we live on the 4th floor of a condominium complex, he knew I really had a problem. That was probably the best thing that could have happened to me; my secret was out. Naturally, we sat down and discussed my problem. Here was the perfect opportunity to get it all out. I decided I would tell him everything that was going on. Everything included another secret. When I was growing up my parents did not really believe in doctors or in medicine. Their idea of medicine was having whiskey and ginger ale. That was their cure for everything. The reality was that it was not really a cure, but it always knocked me out and when I woke up I felt better after a good night rest. As you can probably guess, it did not take too long for me to start using this idea for helping me get to sleep. I really did not want to use pills, and I had to get to sleep sometime. Naturally, I knew this was not helping anything, but it at least knocked me out for a while. Once it wore off, I was back in the same predicament again, but at least I had a little time to sleep. Unfortunately, it got to the point that I needed the whiskey every night in order to sleep, and as time went on in order for it to work I gradually had to increase the dosage. It worked, and that is what mattered to me. That was how desperate I was. As well as having these sounds in my head, I noticed that I was having dizzy spells. Many nights when trying to get to sleep if I raised my head a little too fast the room would be spinning. I knew there was something wrong, but I was almost too afraid to find what it was. One day when reading the hospital newsletter I noticed an ad that stated that if you were dizzy or had sounds in your head, you should call your doctor immediately. Reading this made me curious so I went to the internet, and I learned about “Tinnitus”. It sounded like this was a common problem that millions of people have experienced through the years, so I figured that was it. If others could handle it, so could I. I made an appointment with my primary care physician who saw me the next day. I went in thinking it would be an easy visit, but to my surprise it ended up one of many visits. My doctor is very thorough and conscientious. She agreed that it could have been tinnitus, but she did not want to take any chances, so she made a series of appointments to have everything checked out. The cat scans showed that I had had a mini-stroke, and the neurologist decided that I had “Benign Positional Vertigo”. The latter problem was corrected by going to Physical Therapy, but that still left me with the music in my head. The Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist mentioned he felt I was having music hallucinations, and all the doctors confirmed that this must be the problem, but no one knew how to treat it or anyone that could help me. I cannot tell you how discouraging that was. Just the fact that they thought I was having hallucinations really made me feel totally crazy. It even made it worse that I did not have anywhere to go for help. I never felt so desperate in my life. I took it upon myself to check the internet for information again. I found that due to the innuendo that went along with the name “musical hallucinations” they changed the name to Musical Ear Syndrome better known as MES. The worst part was that there did not appear to be many doctors who treated this condition. I felt that the condition was progressing rapidly, and I did not know where to go for help. The music was not only getting louder by the day, it was more often and more tunes at a time. I really could not picture going throughout my life in this way. I felt I could handle most anything but not that. What choice did I have, though? These were the cards that were dealt me. I had to find a solution, but what? One day I was reading my husband’s retirement magazine, and there was the answer to my prayers. When I had seen the ENT previously he had mentioned I may need a hearing aid. The magazine had this advertisement stating that Blue Cross Federal Employee Plan was getting together with TruHearing (a discount hearing company) to help people afford to have hearing aids if they needed them. Amazingly enough this was our insurance plan, so I called to check it out. The girl, Kathy, was wonderful, and when I explained my problem, she said that she thought she knew of someone who could help. Kathy was so nice that she not only told me who the person was, she even called him and put him on the line. Not only did I talk to Dr. Robert Mario, he even made an appointment to see him the next week. Finally, here was a ray of hope. I was so nervous to go to that appointment because I was so afraid that he was just going to say there was nothing that could be done. Thank God he said that he may be able to help me. He gave no guarantees and it sounded like it would be a long haul, but I knew I had to try this. Anything would be better than to continue the way I was. Dr. Mario explained that he may be able to diminish the sounds by adding white noise. In order to do that I would need to wear two hearing aids day and night. He put in an order for a set of hearing aids, which I tried. They looked like they were going to work, but after a week the sounds were getting louder again even when I was wearing them. I was able to exchange that set for another, and this one does seem much better than the last. It is not perfect. I still hear music at times and sometimes I even hear loud shrill, shrieking sounds, but I am still so much better than before. It sounds like a strange way to measure my success, but I have managed to get to sleep without the whiskey for over five weeks now. Considering that before I could not go even one night without the help, I certainly feel that I have come a long way. I knew this would take time, and it is, but that is all right since I at least see some hope for the future. I try to stay positive about the situation. I admit that it is not always easy to do. I cannot help but wonder why God is putting me through this. There must be a reason. I choose not to waste my time feeling bad. I would prefer to put my time to better use. That is why I keep journals and try to do anything I can to help solve this problem including self-hypnosis as this appears to be caused by stress. I do not know if hypnosis can help the problem, but I do it every day in hopes that it can help. As you read this please understand that I am not looking for sympathy; I am writing this in the hope that doctors can better understand what it is like to have such a problem. I am a firm believer that there is always someone out there who has worse problems than me. One cannot truly understand what others go through until they walk in their shoes. I am hoping that reading a story such as this can help others understand what it is like to go through this ordeal. In the beginning of this story you will recall I mentioned being brought up to pray for peace. I just did not know through the years that I would find other meanings of peace in my life. I still pray for peace and harmony throughout the world, but I also pray for peace in my own mind. I thank God every day for the help I have been given thus far, and I will try to do whatever it takes to fulfill this dream.