I have tinnitus. It's not bad, at least I don't think it is. I always have some ringing in my ears but it's not distracting unless I think about it, or unless the room I'm in is very quiet. Hell, I think I was 14 before it occured to me that not everyone has a persistent background noise that follows them around like a lost little puppy.
When it's incredibly quiet, it manifests itself as more than just a ringing; late at night, when everything is silent, I often think I'm hearing a TV on in another room. It's convincing enough that I sometimes have to get up to check to make sure no one left one on, which is a little bit odd since the sound rides on the air like a muffled auction or horse race announcing, and I don't think anyone in this house watches auctions or horse racing on TV.
I can ignore it for the most part. I hear it, have to think, and once I've pinned it on those odd sounds that my brain just makes up to annoy me, I can roll over and go back to sleep.
Four thirty this morning I woke up, (and surprisingly my first thought wasn't I'm alive!) and as I stirred awake and thought I heard a TV on in another room, but a peek out the door suggested everyone was still asleep, so unless a cat sat on a remote, it wasn't likely.
But... What I was hearing was Dan Rather.
Dan Rather, voice muffled.
Dan Rather, sounding rather drunk, repeating the same phrase over and over, though I could not tell exactly what that phrase was. It wasn't for lack of effort; I strained to hear, thinking that maybe one of the cats really did sit on a remote and turn on a TV. It's not implausible; they've stepped on them and changed channels before.
So I slid out of bed and went into the hallway; nothing. It was quiet and every light in the house was off. There was no tell-tale flicker of a TV to be seen, and no Dan Rather muttering from the living room.
Five minutes later, back in bed and trying to drift off, there he was, muttering from the ether, that authoritative deep rumble bouncing off the walls.
This is annoying.
I can deal with the auctions at night. I can deal with the horse race announcer. I can deal with the persistent ringing.
But Dan Rather talking to me at night?
There's just something wrong with that.