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The Villages

Villager refuses to ‘learn to live with’ condition, launches support group

If you are one of the 45 million Americans dealing with tinnitus, you are going to be very interested in the following announcement. The first meeting of the Tinnitus Support Group will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 in the Triple Crown Room at the Churchill Recreation Center. This group will continue to meet on the first Tuesday of the month.

The group was started by and will be facilitated by Sal Gentile who has been coping with severe tinnitus since 2011. For Gentile the condition came on suddenly.  He had four distinct loud noises which he describes as: 50 Alka-Seltzer’s fizzing, bacon frying, machine like conveyor belt noise and the rattle of a rattlesnake going off in his head simultaneously. After visiting several doctors he was basically told to “learn to live with it.”

Sal Gentile on his bicycle.
Sal Gentile on his bicycle.

He continued to research and had the good fortune to find Dr. Chris Spankovich, a Shands Florida University Audiology Research professor. Working with Dr. Spankovich and learning to use new tools such as white noise, CDs, meditation, sound machines and specific hearing aides Gentile was able to habituate by March 2012. To habituate Gentile said is to “live in flight not fright.”

These techniques gave him back his quality of life and he is eager to share his knowledge with Villagers now that he and his wife have made The Villages their home. They moved into their house in the Village of Dunedin in August.

“My goal is to give hope to people,” said Gentile.

So many people suffer from this invisible condition and he wants people to know that they need not suffer alone.  Although suffer is not a word he likes to use.  He calls people dealing with tinnitus warriors.

Gentile will gladly share the coping mechanisms that have been successful for him. He also wants information sharing from others to be an important component of the group.

The support group meetings will be co-facilitated by Villages Health Audiologist Dr. Tressie Waldo. She will answer questions and bring different hearing aids for demonstration.

Sal Gentile was honored in Tampa on behalf of his work for those suffering from tinnitus.
Sal Gentile was honored in Tampa on behalf of his work for those suffering from tinnitus.

Gentile has great enthusiasm for this cause. Before coming to The Villages, Gentile  lived in Tampa. He started a support group there. He also raised $20,000 for research by many means including a 100-mile bicycle ride and a “Cigar and Cars’ fundraiser held at the Ferrari dealership in Tampa.  He has received many citations for his work including the Presidential Community Service Award. He currently serves as the Florida State Group Leader for the American Tinnitus Association.

He has the same enthusiasm for starting the new group here.

“My expectation is we will eventually need an auditorium,” he said.

If you would like more information, the contact e-mail for the group is [email protected]

  

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