Monday, November 10, 2008


From the Georgia Peach Cochlear Implant Association Newsletter

By Al Laframboise

Well, I don’t know how to start this. I want to help people who have Tinnitus. Certainly
we all know that Tinnitus is the existence of sound that a patient hears, but which does not
appear to have an outside source. I want to quote the ‘Mayo Clinic on Better Hearing and
Balance’ maybe more than once so I will just refer to that book as the Mayo clinic.
The Mayo Clinic says tha t ‘Tinnitus may develop from multiple causes. Some
researchers believe that tinnitus results from damage to the hair cells inside your cochlea.
Turbulent flow through your blood vessels may produce a sound sensation’. I have read another
book from the Boston area which strongly suggests that stress is what is causing this turbulent
flow. I do not have that book handy to provide you with a title.
So, although I admit to the possibility of the existence of other causes to tinnitus, I am
planning on providing you with some personal background on my tinnitus and its cure. I also am
writing this article in hopes that the readers would accept a challenge to prove me either right or
The Mayo Clinic points to the possibility that hearing loss is the initial source and when
added to the high stress in the patient will produce tinnitus, but you knew that. There is some
suggestion about the use of hearing aids, masks, and drug therapy in order to manage the

I lost some of my hearing back in 1954 as either exposure to loud artillery noises from
155mm cannons or the ingestion of the drug Streptomycin. After that my hearing progressively
decreased until I no longer heard sound. In 1996, I was given a cochlear implant which has
proven to be more than a miracle. The implant is not the subject here so I will proceed to the
subject of tinnitus.
While attending Fordham University between 1956 and 1960, I lived with various
roommates in different apartments in New York City. Living in a New York apartment in low
cost rent areas leaves one subject to robbery on a regular basis. We were robbed at least once a
year during that period. But we lived where we could afford to live. On a daily basis, when I
went to bed at night and my roommates also were in bed, the room should have been quiet, but I
could hear what sounded like someone scratching the keyhole in the door. I did not realize that it
was the sounds of tinnitus raising their ugly appearance.
In 1961, I was married and we moved to New Jersey. When we went to bed at night, I
could hear what sounded like footsteps. I arose more than once until we purchased a dog. My
logic was that if there really was a person making the scene, my dog would provide enough noise
to alert me to that occurrence. It did not make the noise go away, but I felt that I could sleep with
the noise that showed its ugly head when my head hit the pillow.
It was in the late 1960s that I was finally fitted for my first hearing aid. I did not mention
the bed time noises to the Beltone distributor as I did not know it was associated with my loss.
Multiple hearing aids followed, but none were successful in application. In 1978, I moved to
Marietta, Georgia. About a year later I joined ‘Self Help for Hard of Hearing’ (since named –
Hearing Loss Association of America). This was the start of my advocacy to help others with
hearing problems. It was not till then that I found out there was such a thing as Tinnitus. It was
strange to find out about condition that I had conquered the year before.

Let’s back up a little: We were still living in Massachusetts. I was not looking for a cure
for tinnitus. I did not know what tinnitus was. I accepted that I was just one of those weird
people who had noise in their head. But I was subject to high stress. I knew that. The stress was
high as an accountant. It was high as a computer programmer. It was high as a person with
hearing loss. It was also high as a husband and father. I knew that if that stress continued, I
would be another one person considering suicide.
Then, I heard about a thing called Transcendental Meditation (™). A free class was
available and I brought my wife with me to that class. Eventually, I paid for the entire family to
have exposure to TM. The rest of the family did not continue the meditation practice, but I
continue today. Today, I live a stress free life devoted toward helping others where I can.
The important thing about this story is that in the process of lowering the amount of stress
within myself, I discovered that the tinnitus I had been experiencing since 1956 was gone. Well,
maybe not 100%. On occasion I experience it but it lasts less than 5 minutes. Of course, I believe
that if the meditation would remove the tinnitus for me, it could be of use for others.
I know that I cannot expect anyone who is in the practice of treating tinnitus to just take
my word that meditation might produce these same results for their patients. There are many
reasons for that. Probably the most popular reason is that there exists a certain lack of belief in
the usefulness of meditation. There are enough jokes about meditation for anyone to conclude
that it is something for people who are also the type who use type drugs that produce
hallucinations. There are jokes about the requirement to assume a lotus position. I know that I
never would have committed to meditation if I had to assume a lotus position. Out of curiosity,
once, I assumed that position for about 10 seconds when I bowled over backward.
Perhaps it would help if I briefly described the way I meditate. I sit upright in a chair with
no support for my neck and for 20 minutes close my eyes and repeat my mantra. A mantra is a
fancy sounding word for a sound that has no meaning to the meditator. If I find that I am
thinking and not repeating my mantra, I return to repetition of the mantra.
I recently suggested to an audiologist about meditation for the management of tinnitus. I
told him how I had been meditating since 1978 and I have not had any serious amount of tinnitus
since. His response was less than favorable.
Now after Reading the above, I expect that you may have one opinion about my
suggestion that may differ from mine. But allow me for just one minute to offer this. Suppose,
just suppose, that I am correct. Suppose that meditation could offer you something that you have
not considered before. How could you determine whether this is true or not?
Of Course, you can ask a bunch of people. The kinds of answers you can expect are
really related to what the individual thinks about meditation. That makes sense. What I am
suggesting is that you consider pursuing the practice of meditation solely for the purpose of
reducing your stress. Nothing more, just to reduce stress will be your objective. Once you start,
allow yourself 3 months of practicing meditation. Then question yourself, ‘How is my tinnitus?’
When you have the answer to that, email me and let me know what you think. Negative
comments are encouraged as well as positive ones.
If I am wrong, we have proven that meditation is not a management tool for tinnitus. If I
am right, we have changed your world. Either result makes for something worthwhile. What do
you think?
In almost every city, there are meditation centers that are anxious to reduce your stress.
While I can recommend Transcendental Meditation, I am led to believe that other forms of
meditation can work also. It is just that I am not familiar with them to recommend them to you.

My email address is Hey, tell me how you did!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Paradign Shift

By Dennis Crews

Friends - having watched a screening of the documentary Uncounted the night before the election, my mood was less than optimistic on Tuesday morning. "Grimly determined" to fulfill my civic duty was more like it.

After having received countless anonymously written emails (and a few personally written ones) slandering Barack Obama for months on end, from acquaintances who forwarded them relentlessly to every name on their computers, as if attempting to jam America's collective capability of critical thought, I was dubious about the outcome of this election. It was easy to methodically debunk the claims made in this smear campaign, but doing so day after day would have required so much time and effort it seemed as if its intent was simply to bring everything to a grinding halt. Throw so much sand in the gears that to clean it all out would leave time for nothing else.

There were two remarkable things about this email campaign. The first was that otherwise fully functional, seemingly smart people could buy into such demonstrably false ideas (i.e. Obama is the anti-Christ, a Muslim, a baby-killer, a socialist, not an American citizen, etc); the second was that so many people I know carried such intense vitriol and resentment for a man who has never done them any harm. Unlike the current occupant of the White House, Barack Obama's actions, demeanor and policies have not cost an iota of loss or damage to the well-being, reputation or livelihood of any person I know. He has run a campaign remarkably free of mud-slinging and character attacks. From whence comes all this resentment, this need to diminish the character and accomplishments of a decent man and pour scorn all over his campaign for the presidency?

I'm not willing to call it racism, but it certainly is bigotry of some kind. Maybe it's reverse snobbery. The otherwise good, smart and funny woman who cuts my hair sneers at Obama's education and calls it of no practical use. After eight years of George W. Bush it seems a sizable segment of America wants another Joe Sixpack to be their leader - or lately, Joe the Plumber. The idea of a Constitutional scholar sticks in their craw. Anybody who's traveled abroad, who has studied foreign policy and, heaven forfend, been a Harvard Law graduate is unthinkably elitist. And if they bear a non-European foreign name and have a multi-cultural personal history - quick, somebody call Joe the Plumber and flush the guy.

Maybe I'm immune to this because my earliest memories are of growing up in India, as a child of missionary parents. We lived in Pakistan as well. My uncle was both a devout Christian and an Islamic and Arabic scholar. As an adult I've traveled on four continents and found real value in the experience. Foreign exposure is beneficial, a multi-cultural outlook replaces irrational fear of the "other" with appreciation for the complexity of life and the interconnectedness of all humanity. It is one thing when the primitive fundamentalists of Islam choose xenophobia and hatred as their default attitude; it is quite another when educated Americans do the same. To me this is unacceptable; we are capable of better and we need a leader who will help America be better than this. We need someone quite a bit smarter than Joe Sixpack, Joe the Plumber or Sarah the Moose Hunter.

As I have said before, God holds the ultimate destiny of nations in his hands - but we bear collective responsibility for our civic destiny. We suffer consequences when we make mistakes. After the manifold ill consequences of the past two botched elections, I feared even worse this time. But thankfully we got something better this time. As Martin Luther King once said, citing an old preacher and former slave: "Lord, we ain't what we want to be; we ain't what we ought to be; we ain't what we gonna be, but, thank God we ain't what we was."

Here's part of a much nicer email I got this morning (subject line - "My instant paradigm shift"):

[Obama's] speech was … well, everything a speech should be but often isn't. I honestly believe he will tap into the volunteer and patriotic spirit of America and inspire all of us to contribute to our collective well being. This is the person I want leading our children in their politically formative years. The lessons they will learn from his inclusiveness: equality, pride, and volunteerism… instead of feeling hopeless and apologetic for our leader and his policies of aggression and ecological rape.

Basking in this glory today, I have realized how negative I had grown about this pathetic time under Bush’s reign. I felt no pride in his American agenda but felt mountains of fear about his followers… It was really very peaceful waking up this morning with hope. It occurred to me that the majority of Americans DO feel like I do… I am NOT part of some disgruntled, disenfranchised minority! That in itself makes me feel hopeful.

That said, this poor man is now in charge of a HUGE bag of crap, which is also apparently on fire. But ‘experienced’ or not, he will absolutely do a better job than his opposition could have even dreamed of. I have no doubts he’ll be great.

The talking heads are absolutely right tonight: we are watching, we are a part of, history with a capital “H”.

Congratulations to all of us!

Well said! All the best d

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