This past Sunday, a bunch of the guys from work asked me to go hang out with them. The afternoon consisted of target practice with a varying array of (legal) firearms, some really amazing Jalepeno burgers, and a couple rounds of bowling.
I took my .22LR with me, and before I left I glanced over at my earplugs and thought, "I should probably take those with me." Stupid me, I walked out of the house without 'em. When we got to the range, one of the guys said, "Did anyone bring ear plugs?" I thought to myself, "I'll be fine," until the first round from a .357 handgun was fired.
Oh my goodness, that was such a piercing sound! Before that, people were shooting .22's, .38's, and 12ga. shotguns. None of those were as painfully loud as the .357! When that first shot rang out, I could tell a definite progression, almost as though someone had slowed it down to 1/5th normal speed. It went from a crack, to a roar, to what felt as though a sharp letter opener was being shoved in my ear. After that, nothing sounded the same.
I went through the rest of the day just fine, but obviously with more trouble hearing than normal. When we went to the bowling alley, I couldn't understand a single word anyone said unless I looked 'em straight in the face while they were talking.
When I left the bowling alley and headed home, I didn't even have the radio on in my car. I always have music going, but this time it just made things worse. Any bit of noise just made any following sounds seem distorted.
Well, now it's Thursday and I've had ample time to recover. I have had trouble hearing all week and it's almost embarrassing to a certain degree. I knew how to prevent this from happening, but my ignorance has cost me my valuable ability to hear.
I just read the Wikipedia page for Tinnitus, and I noticed that one of the treatment methods was to use white noise. Right now, I've got a loop of such noise playing in my left ear, and I really hope it's going to have a positive outcome. My right ear is fine, for the most part, but the sympathetic "pain" is setting in, and I'm having a bit of the same kind of ringing in that ear.
I just hope this doesn't last much longer. I'm really way too young to have such a hearing impairment, though my stupidity does warrant it.