A teenager sits chatting on her cellphone at her friend’s house. Then, out of nowhere she hears an excruciatingly loud noise, and as a result, something inside her ear pops. In that moment, the teen’s life changed dramatically – and it was all because of one stupid, split-second decision.
Around a year ago, Cindy Redmond was a regular teenage girl living in Wilmington, Delaware. But then something happened to her that changed her life. Indeed, after the unfortunate event, she was no longer able to go to school, socialize with friends or lead a normal teenage existence.
What’s more, it all happened in the space of a single second. And even worse, the incident could easily have been avoided altogether. Redmond’s story begins one day at a friend’s house. There, she sat down for dinner with the family – but then made a decision that would prove disastrous.
Redmond was chatting on her cellphone while sitting at the host’s table, and her friend’s stepfather considered the teen’s actions rude. He decided, then, to respond. But while he may have wanted to teach Redmond a lesson, what he succeeded in doing turned out to be far more severe than that.
In fact, what the irritated man did caused lasting damage to Redmond’s health. The friend’s stepfather didn’t simply confiscate Redmond’s phone for the duration of the meal. No, he did something far more dramatic. He reached for an object that was guaranteed to get her attention.
By this point, Redmond had already ended the call. But her friend’s stepdad was still angered by how long it had taken her to do so. And in order to let the teen know that her behavior wasn’t appreciated, the stepfather blasted an air horn right in her ear.
At that moment, Redmond felt instant pain. Not only that, but she also felt something in her head pop. And from then on, nothing would be the same for the schoolgirl. That’s because the air horn, which can reach 130 decibels when used at close range, had caused serious damage to her ears.
Redmond actually managed to go to school the following day, but it didn’t take long for teachers to realize that something was up. And when Redmond was sitting in her English class, she found that her teacher’s voice was causing her incredible physical discomfort.
Consequently, Redmond was sent home from school that day – and she never went back. The pain in her ears when around loud noises was simply too much for the teenager to bear. In fact, owing to the damage caused by the air horn, such sounds result in her feeling a burning sensation deep inside her ear canal.
Redmond was eventually diagnosed with hyperacusis. But while it’s a fairly rare disorder, those suffering with it experience pain and pressure in their heads, which is often accompanied by a ringing sound. The symptoms can, admittedly, become less severe over time, but they may then return if triggered by a loud noise.
And although there are treatments available for hyperacusis, in Redmond’s case they have unfortunately proven useless. Sadly for the teen, there is no magic cure, so for now she is forced to struggle on with her unfortunate condition. And her everyday life has altered significantly as a result.
Indeed, while other girls her age tend to want to get out of the house as much as possible, for Redmond, it’s a very different story. She now stays at home a lot, as she knows she’ll be able to find a quiet spot there. In fact, it’s a lot more difficult for the teenager to go outside, as her life now revolves around avoiding loud noises.
And when Redmond does step foot outside, she has to be sure to prepare first. In order to protect herself from noise, the teen often dons a pair of earmuffs. Otherwise, she gets by with earplugs, all of which, unsurprisingly, has its downsides. For instance, Redmond finds it difficult to communicate effectively with other people when she’s wearing such protective devices.
Unfortunately, though, Redmond doesn’t have many alternatives. Talking to People, the teenager described the severe pain that loud noises cause her. It “feels like someone is stabbing [her] in [her] ears” even when she hears something as seemingly innocuous as ice cubes clinking together, she said.
Despite these unpleasant symptoms, however, Redmond recently tried to spend time hanging out with her girlfriends. But it turned out to be a bad idea. Indeed, when one of her friends shrieked, Redmond couldn’t bear the pain in her ears, and she started crying as a result.
Then something else terrible happened. One of the girls claimed that Redmond was pretending to be in pain. But while it’s true that there may be no outward physical indications – such as bleeding – that a person has hyperacusis, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a very real and very difficult condition to endure.
Redmond’s experience with hyperacusis has, in fact, been so bad that she can no longer go to high school. Instead, once a week she attends a special school, which offers a quiet alternative to a typical school environment. Meanwhile, even activities such as watching TV or hanging out with her dog can be a minefield for her.
That’s why Redmond and her family have thrown themselves into raising awareness of the condition. They hadn’t even heard of hyperacusis before Redmond was diagnosed with it, so the family want to make sure that others know to be careful when it comes to extremely loud noises.
And the Redmonds have been busy fundraising for Hyperacusis Research, a nonprofit organization that dedicates itself to helping those affected by the condition. “Hyperacusis needs attention,” Redmond’s mom, Laurie, told People. “We need a cure so Cindy can live a normal teenager’s life.”
Redmond has been incredibly unlucky to wind up in the situation that she finds herself in. But for other people, hyperacusis is an avoidable condition. Thanks to her decision to share her story and inform people of the dangers of loud noises, though, Redmond might be saving others from what she describes as “a living nightmare.”