I want to share my personal experience with you. It is very important you read this. I want to spare you the anguish I am going through.
I am a healthy 64-year old Caucasian male. I have been successful in life. I was a systems engineer for Tandem Computers/Hewlett Packard Corporation for 28 years. I have a great family who I am very proud of. Iíve been happily married to the same woman for 40 years. She and I are best friends. We respect and love each other dearly. Our two sons are truly good guys, both of them happy and successful. We have a fantastic daughter-in-law and two wonderful grandchildren. I have several long time friends who I see or talk to regularly. My neighbors like me.
I always worked hard on my fitness and am in exceptional physical shape. Red wine is my only vice, although I drink only in moderation. At worst I get a wine buzz over dinner. The last time I remember being drunk was in my high school days. I donít drink beer or liqueur, nor do I do drugs.
We all have our issues and regrets, but I think anyone who knows me would agree that Iím a good guy and am largely baggage free. My point is, Iíve had a very good life and there is very little I would change if I had it to do over again. I am happy with my life.
I have been happy and healthy my entire life. The only long-term issue Iíve had is tinnitus. Tinnitus is ringing in the ears. Iíve had mild tinnitus for 25 years. I have been around racecars my whole life as a spectator and about 5 years as a crew member. And growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area area in the Ď60s and Ď70s, I was a regular at rock concerts at Winterland and Filmore West. This was a great time in my life!
We all know loud noises can cause hearing damage, so there was no reason to doubt why I was experiencing tinnitus. That said, my tinnitus was always mild and steady. It never truly bothered my. Itís just that I noticed it once in a while, but I always quickly forgot because it faded into the background or disappeared almost completely. For 25 years my tinnitus had ZERO impact on my life.
That changed with something I did starting in late February. As more of an experiment than anything Ė because I didnít have any real problem Ė I asked my doctor for a Levitra prescription. Levitra is an ED drug in the same family as Viagra and Cialis. My doctor prescribed me the lowest dose available, 5mg tablets. The maximum daily dose of Levitra is 20mg.
Over a 60 day timeframe, I used just 9 of the 24 tablets I had been prescribed. On only one occasion did I take tablets on successive days. Even though the maximum dose is 20mg, I never took more than one 5mg tablet at a time. Given the fact that I am a healthy, physically fit, active, 6í5Ē, 230 pound guy, by all accounts my dosage was very low.
In hindsight, I noticed the morning after taking pill 7 that my hearing seemed a bit dull. But, spring had arrived and allergies were rampant with the wet winter California enjoyed this year. I dismissed the thought that Levitra may have been responsible, not even considering it the cause at the time. Several days later I took two 5mg doses on successive days, #8 and #9. My hearing was noticeably deadened afterwards and I made the association that Levitra may be the cause. That was the last time I took Levitra.
The timeline was this; 1) I started taking it in late February, 2) I took it pretty much once a week , 3) my last two doses in early May were on successive days. Not only was I taking the lowest dose possible, I think youíd all agree I wasnít popping them like candy.
Within days of taking those last doses I noticed the volume level of my tinnitus was getting increasing louder. My tinnitus was now bothering me every second of my life Ė and it was getting louder by the day! I hit my low point the night of May 20th. We had dinner with friends at a local winery (we live in the wine country). It was an outdoor venue with an acoustic group playing off in the distance. No sooner did we finish up our meal than did my tinnitus kick into high gear. Our friends and my wife noticed that instant change in me. I was now truly frightened with what was happening. We had to leave that moment.
Back home and in total anguish, I awoke at 2:30AM with literally rock concert loud tinnitus. It was unbearable. I awoke like I was on fire, dancing naked around the bedroom with my hands over my ears. I began sobbing, and sobbed uncontrollably to an hour, writhing uncontrollably in the bed. (I only remember crying one other time in my life. I am not a cry-er). It haunts me that my wife had to witness this!
I was in such AGONY that I will tell you with absolute certainty, had I been solo in life with no friends or family I would have opened up my gun safe and killed myself. It was that bad. Sound is used as a form or torture. Let me tell you, it works.
Somehow I made it through the night and made a doctors appointment the next day. I was quickly referred to an audiologist who did a thorough hearing test and assessment. Sensing my anguish, she had me take a 35 question test on how much my tinnitus was bothering me. Yes answers were the ďwrongĒ answer. Of the 35 questions I answered yes to 31 of them. I already thought it was bad, but I was in far worse shape than I thought. She insisted I see a psychiatrist ASAP, which I did. Iíll get right to the point, the psychiatrist wanted to assess whether or not I was a suicide risk! Me? A suicide risk?! But it was true, good life or not, I could see the possibility.
I have since seen a neurologist who told me that the Levitra was the likely cause of my tinnitus flaring up as is has. He strongly advises against taking any ED drug if you have tinnitus. He has personally seen cases like mine, and he has seen cases where the damage is permanent. What happens is that these ED drugs re-direct blood from the brain to the pelvic region. The consequence of this is that it starved my auditory nerves of blood, thus damaging them. He is hopeful that I will recover eventually given my low dosages and short term use. That said, he said there are no guarantees. If I do recover he said it could take a year or more!
I have since been prescribed powerful anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills. The sleeping pills donít work and I only use the anti-anxiety drugs when I absolutely have to. Every single evening when the sun goes down I start having anxiety attacks because I know I will be going to bed soon. Iíve bought sound machines, Iíve bought books, Iíve changed my diet virtually eliminating salt and sugar, wine no longer touches my lips, nor does coffee. Iím taking Gingko and Lipo-flavinods. I am doing everything in my power to fight back as hard as I am able.
I will finish this long missive with this Ė you cannot imagine the agony I am experiencing right now. My tinnitus is with me EVERY SECOND OF MY LIFE. It is the LOUDEST sound I hear, even while riding my bicycle down Peachy Canyon Road at 35mph, or driving our not-so-quiet Honda Element into a head wind on coarse pavement at 75mph.
This horrible sound is ever present with me. Itís hard enough to come to grips with the fact that it may take a year for this to go away. The thought that this damage could be permanent will most certainly change who I am as a person. It will change every single relationship I have. I will change the very core of who I am. I feel completely ruined right now. Iím fighting back as hard as I can, but Iím on the ropes, hunkered down defensively, tinnitus pounding me with blow after blow. I was down on one knee, almost out, on that horrible May 20th night. Iím now back up on two feet, though Iím still on the ropes, getting hammered. Wish me luck.
I write this not for sympathy, but to warn you. Statistics show my situation to be a rare case. But I am one of them and it may have ruined my life.
Do you want to become a statistic? You have been warned.
This is what I hear EVERY SECOND OF MY LIFE!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzdBsRcrexg