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12 Things People Miss About Life Before Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis, or noise-induced pain, is often caused by noise overexposure, a blow to the head or ototoxic medication.

With ordinary sounds causing stabbing, burning ear pain – not just pain in the moment, but pain that lingers indefinitely – leading a normal life is impossible.

Earplugs aren’t always enough. They make it tough to communicate.

We asked people: What do you miss most about your life before hyperacusis?

Here are their replies:

1. “I miss simple things like driving with the windows down. There is no part of my life that hyperacusis has not affected.” – Jennifer from Rhode Island

2. “I can’t even go to a library group because of just one lady with a loud laugh.” – Mary from New Zealand

3. “The hardest part is being unable to enjoy my 10 great-nieces and -nephews. Their voices are piercing and painful when they are squealing with delight.” – Laura from Florida

4. “I did not attend two of my children’s wedding receptions because of the DJ/sound system situation. They deserved their party and we agreed in advance that it would be best if I not attend.” – Diane from Texas

5. “I don’t miss festivals, concerts and clubs at all. I miss normal family gatherings, meeting my friends for coffee and having late-night conversations on the phone.” – Sara from France

6. “I miss being able to go any place I want to go. Getting groceries feels like a game of Frogger. I must dodge painful frequencies or I will be in pain for days.” – Maura from North Carolina

7. “The biggest sadness is being unable to comfort my baby when she cries. Her sudden cry is like knives piercing my ears. I am forced to choose between blocking my ears and cuddling my child.” – Jane from England

8. “In my pre-hyperacusis life, I belonged to a group of theatre lovers, always seeking out the next new play in the West End. I would be there on opening night. Now, when I learn that a new play is opening, my heart plummets.” – Sian from England

9. “I miss my free time. It takes so much effort just keeping my job, going to doctors and managing my ears.” – Jana from New York

10. “What I miss the most is the hope of finding replacements for everything I’ve had to give up.” – Diana from New Zealand

11. “I miss the freedom of planning normally for the future. The future is now full of “ifs” and “buts.” I don’t know when (or even if) I’ll be well enough to travel, start a family or even own a dog.” – Danielle from Australia

12. “I was a musician and now I’m not. That sums it up.” – Andrew from India

Illustrations by Emma Fifield

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