Sunday, June 23, 2013
One of the weirder side effects of my recent surgery was the Russian Choruses that played in my head sporadically. I would lay on the bed and hear the music and wonder what in heaven's name my husband was listening to downstairs. On other occasions I'd heard the phone ringing over and over and over and wonder where he'd gone to.
The technical name for this is paracusia, or auditory hallucination, and while most cases are neurological in nature or associated with mental illness, occasionally some can be triggered by drug use, or overuse of caffeine. I have to chalk it to the pain killers they gave me, or perhaps the after-effects of anesthesia, or just being bored out of my mind while laying on the bed, foot elevated, with icy toes.
So last night, in honor of this effect, I watched The Hunt for Red October, and enjoyed the Russian choruses. But I have thought about other aspects of this. I had a friend die several years ago and not long after, I heard her voice as I came out of a dream, calling me. The night before last, I dreamed my daugher and I were at camp and had to put on a pancake breakfast for 200 and had nothing but one bag of pancake mix and a waffle iron, and then I heard my son Matthew's voice, asking me to tell him what I wanted at the grocery store and then he proceeded to make out the list for me. As I came out of that dream (more side effects of the pain killers were vivid and sometimes disturbing dreams), my rational mind took over and the youthful Matthew had morphed to the man who just came off a week-long Scout High Adventure trip and could easily manage a pancake breakfast for a crowd. I relaxed out of that stressful dream and thought about him.
I have heard others talk about having conversations with people that have passed away, and how comforting it was to hear their voice. Somewhere in this house, I have a cassette tape (can I even play it now?) with the sounds of my family, from the fetal heartbeat of my first child through to a clip of an interview my husband did in Riverside for the local radio show. I have saved phone conversations on our answering machine from nearly two years ago, when many called to talk to me when I was diagnosed with cancer. My husband is a good sport about forwarding through these nine messages to get to the one that just came in.
In our foodie world these days, I have read many pieces about the connection between taste and memory, certain foods and events, but haven't read much about the effect of hearing your mother's voice on your answering machine, telling you she is concerned about you and hopes you are doing fine.
Now, in our digital age, I don't really know how to save these voices, preserve them for later listening. So I can only hope that somewhere in my infinite mind, a tape recorder is going, and will play them back for me when I need them most.
Friday, June 21, 2013
My colleague and I collect cartoons related to student life. There's something that could be called the Distraction Paradigm, which is what happens when a student is distracted from the original task to something more pleasurable and loses control of the time spent. That's usually when we professors hear things like "This took me like, forever, to finish!" or "Do you want to know how much time I spent on this paper of yours?" (It's always MY paper, even though they wrote it.)
While sometimes I'll arch an eyebrow and say something like "Sounds like a time management problem to me," after reading the book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, I now approach this more directly, asking them how many devices they had next to them or consulted while they were writing. The above cartoon is an excellent example of the problem faced by students.
Or by any of us. While writing this short blurb, I deviated away from the writing several times in order to check the exact wording of the title, the spelling of another word, the meaning of yet another. And since being laid up with my foot, I now welcome distractions as I'm not trying to get anything accomplished, other than laying here with my foot up doing nothing, wondering if I should call interrupt Dave and what he's doing in order to come up here and vacuum the cobwebs off the ceiling in the bedroom.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
This is the view from my bed, upstairs. It's a treetop view, and I like seeing the green when I look out the window. Apparently seeing green is also good for healing, if you are a medical patient, which is also good for this week's task of healing from the elective foot surgery I had on Tuesday morning.
Trying to keep equilibrium in life is a challenge, and things like surgeries and diagnoses, car crashes, unpaid bills grandchildren visiting, and visits to grandchildren and family can all pull a person off their balance. Some of these are good things (grandchildren!), but I'm not a fan of the wobbly things that make me feel like I'm trying to use crutches in the middle of the night while on Big Pharma. (And no, I didn't have most of those awful things in the sentence above.)
Another side effect of surgery (and, according to my friend Heather, chemo) is that brain fog that descends. Because of that, this post will be blessedly short, because I'm pretty sure I'm sounding like all my ducks aren't lined up in a row. Or something.