Monday, October 31, 2011

That song is playing in my head again

It's the song they call Tinnitus, played by a band called IneverworehearingprotectionwhenIwasyoung. It goes like this: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

When I was a kid, all I did was shoot guns. All day. I had several counties of woods and fields to wander and hunt, and that was what interested me. Even before I could drive I was competent with big magnum rifles and handguns, and had taken down countless deer with a 7mm Magnum and a .300 Winchester Magnum I borrowed one hunting season. When I was in High School, while all the cool kids were out getting liquored up and partying, I would be proned out on mom's dining room table with a Marlin Glenfield Model 25 sniping crows in the back yard out the back door. It made me a decent marksman, but it also gave me substantial hearing damage.

Back then hearing protection came in the form of foam plugs, or dad's cigarette butts. Either way, to keep the song from playing after you broke a shot you had to completely block out ambient sounds, which was not desirable if you wanted to also be able to hear your quarry. Spending so much time in the woods, I never wore hearing protection at all for more than half my life; and because of that I have recurring tinnitus.

It happens randomly several times a month and usually goes away within an hour or two. Not this weekend, though; I woke up Saturday morning and my left ear was ringing so bad that it made my hearing in both ears almost non-existent, and continues now as I write this post. My wife came home from work and was wondering why the hell I had the TV blaring so loud. I could barely hear it, like I was underwater. My kids would be talking to me not two feet away and I just couldn't make out what they were saying. It gets really bad like this several times a year, and can take a week or two to go away.

In my youth, I knew damn well I was damaging my ears with all the gunfire, but I didn't care because I thought I was tough. Now I see what a moron I was, and I wish I could go back in time and kick my own arrogant ass, then sport the dollar or so for some ear plugs. Idiot. I'm right handed, which means my right ear is turned slightly away from the muzzle when I shoot, so it's the better ear of the two. Both ears are bad enough that I had to get a waiver to get into the Marine Corps and Army National Guard because of a wide range of sounds that I could no longer detect, which shouldn't be the case for anyone under 60 years of age.

These days there are electronic hearing protectors that amplify ambient sounds, but cut out the gunfire. When you shoot, instead of the muffled "pop" that you hear with foam plugs, the electronic muffs let you hear the shot as if it was normal, but your ears are spared only the most damaging pitch. On top of that, they're affordable, so there's no reason in the world not to buy a pair and use them, even in the woods while you're hunting. I noticed that with my cheapo pair of Peltor tactical muffs, I can hear distant sounds clearly as if I were there that I cannot hear without them. They'd be a huge advantage in the woods while hunting, and would also keep the worst of the gunfire from making your ears play that song that you cannot get out of your head, ever.
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