Former Marine’s suffering eased by funding

Independent funeral directors and Golden Charter have been working to raise money for The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland throughout the year. This is one example of how the charity’s work supports the Armed Forces community.

Harris Tatakis was on tour in Afghanistan when his Land Rover drove over an improvised explosive device.

The blast shattered the Royal Marine’s left leg, shin and ankle, broke his right foot, ruptured his eardrums, and caused brain damage.

His leg would heal over time, but the damage to his ear drums resulted in tinnitus.

“The blast ruptured both ear drums and the audio processing part of my frontal lobe was damaged as well,” said Harris.

“Having both a head injury and a physical injury to both ears is so complicated because if it’s just hearing loss it’s quite easy to rectify, but when you’ve got an audio-processing injury as well it’s been hard. It’s physically draining and tiring. I spent two years having three or four appointments a week. With hearing loss you can use hearing aids, but with tinnitus there is no cure and that’s the biggest frustration.

“I got it to a level where I could live with it, but it never went away. Then after a medication mix-up last year after a knee operation I had a bad reaction and my tinnitus just went through the roof.

“For about a year it really was ruining my life. I couldn’t get out, I couldn’t tolerate people around me and I was desperate. I knew what was available on the NHS and I had tried it all before.

“Tinnitus is like having a dentist drill constantly in your ear. Just imagine walking around with that.

“You’re trying to work, trying to listen to people and all you can hear is a high-pitched whine, constantly – and that’s just during the day. Now try sleeping with it at night – you can’t.

“Obviously then your sleep gets affected, which means you start off the next day badly. You can’t relax because there is a constant high-pitch whine there. It’s so intense that it’s actually physically painful as well.

“You can never have peace and quiet again. You are always on edge. It’s exhausting and mentally tiring.

“People can’t see it so they don’t understand why you’re in pain or why you can’t tolerate people speaking to you, and that’s the biggest frustration.”

Harris said he was “suffering in silence” with the NHS unable to help him to the degree he needed.

That is until he discovered that a revolutionary iPod-administered tinnitus treatment called ‘Levo’ had just become available in the UK through The Tinnitus Clinic.

Harris was put in touch with the Veteran’s Hearing Fund (VHF), which is managed and administered by The Royal British Legion, and the charity provided the funding for the specialist treatment.

In 2017, Harris became the first veteran in the UK to be treated with the ‘Levo’ treatment.

“It’s fair to say that the treatment – and indeed the Legion – has given my life back to me,” added the 39-year-old who lives in Cornwall.

“The Royal British Legion is out there supporting me by paying for the treatment, and I’d encourage anyone in my position to make the most of the help.

“The Legion is here for us whether we’re young or old and that’s a wonderful thing.”

Steven Baynes, Head of Social Policy & Grant Giving at The Royal British Legion, said: “Tinnitus among Service personnel and veterans is poorly understood, and it is likely that many are suffering in silence, unaware of the support that may be available to them.

“While there are a number of treatments available for tinnitus, it is often difficult to identify the appropriate treatment for each sufferer.

“The Royal British Legion is delighted that the treatment Mr Tatakis has accessed through the fund has made his condition more manageable.”

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