Monday, May 20, 2013

curiouser and curiouser

from The Large and Growly Bear, by Gertrude Crampton


So, besides heartburn, indigestion and the @#%ing charming amount of wind, I've been daily experiencing another of the lesser-known joys of pregnancy -- nasal congestion! It seems the high levels of estrogen and progesterone increase blood flow to all the body's mucous membranes, including the nose, causing them to swell and soften, and leading to the stuffy, blocked-up feeling.

Well, as anyone who's ever had nasal congestion knows, an often accompanying feature is nasal whistling -- that @#%ing lovely high-pitched squeak that goes with every inhalation or exhalation, or both. I realised early on that this was going to irritate the @#%ing ... Sylvanians... out of me because I can't stand occasional nasal whistling even under regular circumstances, and now I was going to have to deal with it every day for at least nine months (as well as that other lesser-known joy of pregnancy -- ear congestion -- you know, where your ears suddenly block up and the only thing you can hear is yourself amplified to unbelievably annoying proportions).

Well, whenever that stupid whistling sound would start, I'd immediately grab some tissue and launch into this major nasal picking (sorry, I know, TMI). Sometimes the whistling would persist despite all the prodding, and that would aggravate me further, as if I felt my nose was somehow defying me. And so, weirdo that you know I am, I Googled "Is it normal to hate the sound of your own nose whistling?".

As it turned out, a large number of people did find their whistling noses extremely irritating, so I didn't feel too crazy, but in the process of this profound academic research, I stumbled upon something called misophonia -- literally "sensitivity to noise". According to Wiki, misophonia is a form of "decreased sound tolerance, believed to be a neurological disorder characterized by negative experiences resulting only from specific sounds, whether loud or soft.

"People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, eating, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, whistling or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Some are also affected by visual stimuli, such as repetitive foot or body movements, fidgeting or any movement they might observe out of the corner of their eyes".

Fascinated, I next found this New York Times article entitled, When a Chomp or a Slurp Is a Trigger for Outrage. "Many people can be driven to distraction by certain small sounds that do not seem to bother others — gum chewing, footsteps, humming. But sufferers of misophonia, a newly recognized condition that remains little studied and poorly understood, take the problem to a higher level...

"They also follow a strikingly consistent pattern, experts say. The condition almost always begins in late childhood or early adolescence and worsens over time, often expanding to include more trigger sounds, usually those of eating and breathing...

"Taylor Benson, a 19-year-old sophomore at Creighton University in Omaha, says many mouth noises, along with sniffling and gum chewing, make her chest tighten and her heart pound. She finds herself clenching her fists and glaring at the person making the sound...The sounds [misophonia patients] object to are soft, hardly audible sounds. One patient is driven crazy by her beloved dog licking its paws. Another can’t bear the pop of the plosive "p" in ordinary conversation" (read the article in its entirety here).

Wow, who knew? I actually find the sound of people talking loudly in public spaces like trains, restaurants or cinemas exceedingly annoying, but I think that stems from an intolerance of another human condition -- plain inconsideration. I'm always reminded of this scene in a book of my grandmother's by Ruby M Ayres (yep, I read her avidly as a teenager). I no longer remember the title, but this scene just stuck in my head -- there's a couple trying to have a quiet conversation in a restaurant and two women at a nearby table are loudly gossiping away.

One woman goes, "What happened next?", and the man sarcastically says to his companion, "Yes, please! Tell us what happened next!". When she tells him to hush, because the women might hear him and be offended, he replies that they shouldn't be -- since they're talking that loudly, they must want other people to overhear them and even to get involved. To this day, that scene would replay in my mind whenever I hear people talking loudly without any consideration for where they are or whom they might be disturbing. I might almost say I have misophoniacal feelings toward them lol!

What noises drive you crazy?

16 comments:

Kim Alston said...

HaHa! I never knew the proper name for it! So thanks! I think gum smacking and pencil tapping are my biggest pet peeves. I do hope you feel better soon.

Pei Shan said...

the high pitch screeching of using fingernails to scratch across the blackboard. Eeks!

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Hope you feel better doll. I remember those annoying things at the end of pregnancy, they can drive a person insane really. I don't like when people chew their food loudly or talk with food in their mouths. I don't like when someone talks over another person & interrupts them either, so annoying and rude. Nosy or gossip like people annoy me as well, haha! But, most definitely when people make lots of noise when eating, there's a name for this irritation, but I can't remember what it was, but it made me feel great to know it was an actually clinical irritation/condition and I could say that when I had to move away from someone eating so loudly, hahaha!! Have a wonderful week doll & feel lots better soon :)) xx

little t said...

I always suffer from nasal congestion.. and I am not, nor was I ever pregnant! That hot face cloth thing.. putting it over your face and breathing deeply... is so soothing.

Although I'm not sure it will help with the nose whistling!

Jacquelineand.... said...

I can so empathise, although I'm decidedly not preggers...the medication I take to control my tremours causes: congestion and nasal whistling! It drives me absolutely bonkers!

Thankfully yours will pass after the baby shows up. *bounce bounce*

Sulky Kitten said...

Now I know what my middle name is. So annoying about your nasal congestion...and you know that will also make you think of that word we don't like..nos....! Gah! I cannot stand people on trains who speak loudly on their phone. I just want to punch them. I'm also sensitive to the sound of people breathing loudly. I can't get to sleep unless it's pitch black and totally silent.If only Mr Sulky, my dog and cat understood!

Almost Precious said...

Sorry to hear that you're having these annoying side effects of pregnancy, especially since this is a time of joy and great expectations. However, unfortunately, we do not have complete control over our body's reaction to the hormones that overwhelm us during this "condition". :) Hope that things get better as your body gets acclimated to the rush of hormones.

I never realized that there are people who suffer from sound sensitivities, that is most interesting. Wonder if there is anything that can be done to help them or if all they can do is seek therapy to help them cope with it? My big time pet peeve with sounds happens when I'm stopped at a traffic light and a vehicle nearby has those Bass Speakers booming away loudly. I can't hear the music, just the boom - boom - boom of the bass and I actually feel it as it pounds against my chest - feels like someone is hitting my heart with their fists. I can hardly wait for the light to change so that I can get as much distance as possible from me and those sound waves.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Hahaha...loved this post! Not the suffering you're going through though :)

Is there anything we can't find on Google? LOL... No matter what you type into the search box, something will pop up. It seems we're not alone in our neurotic tendencies... :)

I am not usually sensitive to things going on around me. I have mastered the ability to tune the world out over the years. Keeps me sane! But on those days when I forget to apply this beloved skill, I cannot stand loud people who are inconsiderate of those around them. The annoying cell phone users who believe that the rest of us are interested in their conversations drive me batty. Particularly if you're trying to 'hear' your own thoughts, or attempting to have a conversation with someone. During those moments, I imagine myself shoving the phone down their throat or up their....

And once in awhile I'm annoyed by slurping...coffee...soup...whatever...

AntiquityTravelers said...

I always used to joke that being pregnant was like being one big science experiment after another! But who knew there was such a condition as noise sensitivity? interesting

Miss Val's Creations said...

I hope you get through this nasaly time quickly! That nose whistling also drives me crazy. More so when it is someone else than myself. At least I do not feel alone here either!

Christine Altmiller said...

I love these posts! I learn a lot from you, Janice. Annoyance laced with humor leads to education. LOL. I am fairly sensitive to other people's sounds...either their voices or the sounds their bodies make. Slurping, nails being cut, pets grooming, but nothing sends my over the edge more than loud conversation or gum chewing, esp my mom chewing the gum! My brother and I will text each other "mom's chewing gum!!!" She snaps it and cracks those tiny bubbles and is just so obnoxious with it. I love her dearly...but she makes it a challenge when she has gum in her mouth.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Pen and pencil tapping are like nails on a chalkboard to me :-)

Audrey said...

As much as I love dogs, I cannot stand the sound of them licking ANY of their body parts. I go crazy. My poor dogs have been yelled at once or twice!!! I don't know why this is....

Sorry to hear abour the nasal whistling...it won't be much longer!!!

Debbie Nolan said...

Jan - dripping faucets drive me crazy...see we all have something-that bothers us. I am sure there are other sounds as well - I am having a senior moment so I can't think of them (LOL)

Magic Love Crow said...

You make me laugh girl! LOL! This is a great post! Very informative ;o) What noises drive me crazy? People talking so loud on their cell phones! Babies crying in a movie theater. Sorry, I don't think babies should be in a movie theater! When someone burbs out loud and is proud of it!! Ok, I think that's enough! LOL! Take Care, Hugs ;o)

Kristin at My Art and the Mom in Me said...

Oh, Jan, but know it is only temporary! Hmm... what noises bother me... my husband snoring, does that count?? Thankfully it only happens when he is a little sick.. and I just nudge him and yell, "roll over!" lol!

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