A TEENAGER had her life turned upside down when she was blasted with an air horn causing a rare hearing condition.
Cindy Redmond, 14, was on her phone at her friend’s house, when their stepdad told her to hang up.
Cindy, from Wilmington, Delaware, did after his second request but still unhappy, he blasted her in the face with an air horn.
Reaching decibels of 130 or more, they’re loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.
Cindy recalled: “I felt a sudden burst of pain in my ears, it was like someone was stabbing me.
“It was like a stabbing, or a burning. It felt like lava was being poured into my ears.”
That moment would change her life forever, with Cindy being sent home the next day from school as she wasn’t feeling well.
Her mum, Laurie Redmond, said: “It was about four days after Cindy mentioned she had an ear ache that we had to go to the emergency room.
“And I can remember being in the emergency room was absolute agony for her.”
In the beginning, her mum said: “All I could do was sit with her and tell her I love her and that it will pass, but no, constant frustration.”
Six months later and after seeing a range of doctors and specialists, Cindy was finally diagnosed with hyperacusis, which she said was a “relief” after living with her condition undiagnosed for so long.
Hyperacusis sees people unable to tolerate everyday noises, such as doors slamming or bells, as they’re too loud and cause pain.
Laurie said: “We went to a lot of doctors, many of them said there’s no ear infection, give her ibuprofen.
“We were really frustrated leaving the doctors all the time with no help.”
Despite finally understanding what was causing the pain, Cindy was crushed to find out there was no cure or treatment, and has lived with the condition since being blasted in 2016.
Cindy said: “Loud noises, babies crying, ambulances hurt, we can’t even use the ice maker in our fridge because it’s so loud.
“My mind just goes into panic when I hear a noise. I immediately plug my ears and kind of rush to the nearest safe spot.”
The teenager has to wear noise-cancelling headphones everyday, and mostly stays inside her house where it’s quiet, with her mum calling it her ‘sanctuary’.
Laurie said: “Cindy’s life has changed enormously. Before this happened, everyday I would come home from work and she would have brought a new friend home from school.
“Then the hyperacusis hit, pretty suddenly, and she couldn’t go back to school.
“And her friends stopped coming over, one by one.”
Since the incident Cindy has been unable to return to school as it’s so loud, and is now home-schooled.
She said: “The thing I hate most about hyperacusis is I can’t see friends.
“And I can’t live a normal teenager’s life.
“I had a lot of friends, I was super social, and all my friends and I used to go outside and play, and I went to school.
“It was a normal childhood.”
The family are forced to move away from babies when they’re out in case they cry, and struggle to enjoy days out and trips.
Laurie said: “Sometimes we have success, and a lot of times we don’t.”
M. Charles Liberman, Professor of Otology, Harvard Medical School, weighed in on Cindy’s case, saying it was a “clear cut example” of hyperacusis.
He said: “They [sufferers] describe the sensation as feeling like having molten lead poured in their ear canal, like someone is sticking ice pick in their ears.”
The professor called it a ‘poorly-understood’ phenomenon.
Cindy uses YouTube as a way to connect with the outside world, and she enjoys using the platform to showcase her “creative side”.
The teen is trying to raise awareness and fundraise in the hope a cure will be found one day.
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