I went for an appointment at the local ENT department, and it turns out that I seem to have an intermittent case of tinnitus. It’s basically ringing in the ear. Apparently, tinnitus is a neurological, not a physical condition, and so there isn’t really any treatment for it. But my doctor tells me, with an accent I can’t place coming from beneath his excellent moustache, that to deal with it, ‘we have to talk about this word, “Brain”‘
Some face it, and choose to ignore, whilst others deny it. Some people cope with it using meditation, by leaving radios and tvs on to mask the ‘sound’, or putting a small device under their pillow that makes white noise. It can, but doesn’t necessarily relate to physical causes – so if you work with noisy machines, or shoot guns, for example, there could be a correlation.
To this end, the doctor asked me what line of work I was in. His eyes lit up some when I said I worked in a library – and he also nodded at the book I was carrying (The Enterprise of Death, by Jesse Bullingdon, by the way). And excusing his initial popular misconception that library work is brilliant because you get to read books all day, I then listened to him talk about his daughter, who had recently done a dissertation on Cormack McCarthy and The Road. He tells me that the director of the film version also did The Hunger Games, and points to this common, post apocalyptic setting as somehow key in understanding our own powers of mind over matter. When humans are desperate, they can do anything, he seems to be telling me. For bad and for good. He’s making a bit of a leap, if I’m honest but I’m so pleasantly surprised at the sudden shift in topic, that I’m going with it. We’re talking about more than tinnitus here. We talk about this word, Brain. What he’s telling me, again referring back to books and libraries, is that I’ll be ok. I’ll be okay because I’m a reader, I can stretch my imagination with the help of books and libraries, and I can put my mind where I want it to be. He’s giving me philosophical, even existential advice to go with his professional medical opinion. He sends me off with a smile, off to the transformative power of my books and libraries, and we both know that, although the world isn’t perfect, we just have to make the best of it. If that isn’t all round care, I don’t know what is. Just marvellous.
God (or someone) save the NHS.