Friday Flow #6: You Cannot Replace Your Hearing

The other night, I was out at a concert from the British Band Archive. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with their music: some of their songs are perfect to chill out, others, with their strong basses, just want to make you dance and shake your body. And I mean, like, really heavy hard loud basses. So loud, that you feel the insides of your body jump and vibrate. And at that moment, I was so grateful, so so grateful I had made this special investment into something terriffic just last year – about 20 years too late: personal earplugs.

personal earplugs
personal earplugs

Let me tell you how it all happened (if you’re not interested, please skip to the end of the post 😉 ): I have always loved music and as a teenager I started to go out clubbing and to many concerts. I had often read about earplugs in magazines and was aware that you had to protect your ears. At clubs and events, they also always offered free earplugs, which I gladly accepted and felt absolutely fine with. And I mean – they were free – a very important fact for a teenager 😉

I remember being out at a concert with a friend who was a drummer. I noticed some weird coloured string at the back of his head and asked him what it was. He explained that he was wearing personal earplugs (or: custom-molded earplugs) that cost a fortune (in our view back then) and he didn’t want to lose them, so he had a string attached. I asked why he would spend so much money on earplugs if you could just get them for free anywhere else and he replied he didn’t want to end up having a tinnitus. I thought he was a bit overreacting and let it go. I should have listened to him more carefully…

A few years later I was incredibly happy to join my first Street Parade here in Zürich. I had prepared everything I needed and was already on the train, happy and excited, when I realized I had forgotten to pack a pair of earplugs. Don’t worry, I told myself, they will be offering them at every corner, just as I had read in the Street Parade Magazine, and just as it was in every other concert I had attended so far: people basically throwing those earplugs after you. We got there and everything was great and I started to ask staff members on the side of the streets if they had any earplugs. They all either had no clue or directed me to another place and in the end, amazingly, nobody could offer me any earplugs. I was quite startled by that (and still am!!!), but I thought it would be ok. I danced along behind several Love Mobiles (those huge decorated trucks at the parade – basically moving clubs with an own DJ and own dancers) and remember specially loving one of them, a latino Love Mobile with its sound blasting particularly loudly from the immense speakers out the back of the truck. I sure thought it was a bit loud but I was still fine.

The following week I was at another open air concert where I usually only needed earplugs if it was really too loud – but it usually never really was the case (back then) since I’d always stand around the back of the crowd. This time we listened to Massive Attack though, and were quite up front. Their basses were pretty loud and hard, and for the first time in my life my ear actually hurt. It had never happened to me before. I put my earplugs in but it was still too loud for me so we had to move a bit further to the back. Still, I wasn’t worried.

As usual, after concerts and such, I had a ringing sound in my ear, which I knew was normal and would go away after you slept through the night. Then, at some point of the week after those two events, I realized my ears were still ringing. Days and weeks passed, and that’s when it hit me: I had damaged my ears permanently, I had a tinnitus…

I think my ears might have never stopped ringing after the Street Parade, or I just don’t remember anymore, but I’m sure the two of those events ended up damaging my hearing for good. Ever since, I’ve had quite some ear problems and aches. I cannot go out anywhere without earplugs – nowadays you just never know how loud any sound anywhere might turn out to be. Even a simple café or bar would be impossible for me to be in, depending on the noise level. I carry a pair of regular foam earplugs in every possible bag I’ve got. I’ve had to leave places because I had forgotten them, or try to improvise with tissue paper which is totally not the same and quite painful for me… Sometimes, a simple screech of a happy child can be unbearable for me – if it comes unexpectedly or is too close to me, it really, but really hurts my ears…

So a few years back my boyfriend, knowing my whole backstory, told me to get myself some personal earplugs as a birthday present. It took me over a year to finally make myself go to this one office and ask about possibilities. I was positively surprised and got a pair as his pressie and bought myself an aditional filter. These personal earplugs work with filters – depending on what event you’re attending and how loud it’s going to be, you need to dam more or less bass / sound, so with those two filters I can basically swap and decide which ones I’d like to use for which event, or if I’m using the smaller filter, still change them if I think it’s still too loud for me. The good thing about those filters is that they only deaden the low noises and sounds, so that I can still have a perfect conversation next to a stage – regular foam earplugs don’t do that, they just dam everything and sometimes you can’t really hear the high tones of the music because the bass is just taking over everything. And – my oh my – I was already able to use my earplugs so many times ever since, and every time I use them – and this is the actual point of my story – I berate the teenage-me for not listening to that drummer friend…

So listen up: dear teenage-me, dear teenagers out there and dear everyone else who loves going out to loud places: Invest into some personal earplugs! Yes, they can be expensive, but it’s worth every single penny!!! Remember: they will last you a lifetime, they are personal and suited just for yourself, so you won’t get a better protection for your ears… You only have one pair of ears, you only have one body – be kind and careful with it and with its health. You might be able to get some parts replaced, but not your hearing. If it’s damaged, you will never, ever be able to replace it again, nor get it fixed. You will always have an annoying high pitched beep ringing in your ears, for the! So please, please be aware of this and think about it for a moment. Trust me. Trust my drummer friend 😉 !!!

Be kind to yourself ❤


5 thoughts on “Friday Flow #6: You Cannot Replace Your Hearing

  1. This is so true. I too listen to the constant ringing morning, noon and night. Meditation helps take me away from it for short periods of time because I travel somewhere deep in my mind. Writing seems to take me away as well. The truth is restaurants, concerts, being around loud people, long winded people at meetings all make me want to scream. Recently I purchased a hearing aid for tinnitus so I have a constant hushing sound in my ear. Just have one for my left ear and will soon have one for the right – they are a little costly. So, the loud ringing that felt as if it were above my head now feels as if it is inside my head and I am hoping once I receive the other hushing sound in the right ear the sound will diminish. To all of those reading this who attend loud events – heed the advice to purchase the hearing protection because it is true – once you have tinnitus there is no reversal. Be kind to yourself and wear ear plugs:)


    1. Wow – your tinnitus must be quite a loud one! How did it get to you? Most of my day I’m not paying attention to it, but if I do, I can of course always hear it. It gets worse after hard workout, after a concert or when I try to fall asleep at night. I then try to imagine a volume button which I turn to hush it – sometimes after a few tries it actually does work 😉 ! I had no clue there were hearing aids for tinnitus! I’ll check into that, I might consider it some day. Thanks for commenting 🙂


      1. Mine started out sounding like nature sounds – crickets and cicada. It was very low and random. Not sure what happened that changed the sound to hundreds of little bells ringing because I rather the nature sound. There is a constant range of 3,000 – 4,000 hertz – when concentrating on something creative, reading or writing I can drift into my mind. It is when the concentration ends that the room fills. Apparently there are thousands of people with tinnitus at varying ranges. They think mine is a result of working in a factory without ear plugs and then while in the military being near the helicopters and on the firing range.
        The hearing aid assist with retraining the brain. It can take up to a year – I am only at three weeks however I am very hopeful. Keep wearing your ear plugs and you can avoid the hearing aids:) I don’t generally focus on it unless it overwhelms me, even then I just take a few minutes to meditate and move on. Love the idea of turning the volume button.

        Liked by 1 person

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