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Monday, September 13, 2010

Acorn Music

Good morning again, everyone. This morning I woke up again before 4am. But this time, no sirens. I let Noah out. No screaming. And no low brass music either. Right now it is so quiet I can hear Noah's toenails click on the floor in the next room. (Although perhaps I am imagining that.)

Yesterday continued to be a strange day. Though the worst of it was in the morning hours, I continued to experience what I assume are "complex auditory auras" all day. Best I can figure it, my brain does one of two things: 1) "Tape loop" a sound I have already been hearing (like my wife's guitar playing) or 2) "Musicize" (I just invented a word) sounds like wind or trees rustling. For the latter, I can understand why this phenomenon is more common amongst trained musicians. It is in our nature to "find the music" in every sound.

"Go home and listen to your dishwasher!" declared my first year ear training teacher at Juilliard. "What pitch is it humming at? Listen to taxicabs honking, people's voices, subways. Find the pitches!"

Forever after that, a new world opened to me. I not only turned my ears "on" while playing but while doing everything. Doorbells, ambulances, birdsongs, Mozart. It was all equally challenging to "find the music."

Yesterday, acorns were falling from the big oak tree in our yard. When some hit the window I "heard" actual music playing when the pattern of the acorn clicks spawned a good idea in my head. In the past, I would do this all the time: create phrases in my head that were derived from sounds I picked up. This time, though, the music was actually "out there," literally playing as real as if a group of violinists were playing accented harmonics in the other room (this is what the acorns on the window triggered). The difference is I did not have to "think it up" for it to exist. The music was already composed for me, parts printed, musicians rehearsed, now performing in the next room. Live. Yet all of it happened instantaneously, before the acorn went from the window to the ground. Someone else composed the music because I did not recognize it, yet that person had to be me.

We were outside a lot yesterday, putting away things and getting the house ready for colder weather. I heard music and miscellaneous sounds all afternoon. In the morning it was worse, with extended periods—20, 30, 40 minutes at a time—where it would not stop, but by the afternoon it was reduced to fleeting episodes, just a sound here of there that was not "actually there."

For example, I carried something to the outside of the garage and when the wind picked up I heard an unnatural trilling sound in the big oak tree. The tree sounded like a telephone ringing. Not "like" a phone ringing but an actual phone ringing. It was a tree-lephone.

"Are you going to get it?" MJ asked, her arms full of small items.

"What, wait. You hear it too?" I asked.

"The PHONE'S ringing!"


I dashed inside and snatched the extra phone in the garage. It then occurred to me I could be heading down a path where I might "hear" something for "real" and THEN I will have to decide ... is it real—like, for real real?—or is it just real in my head? Which one is it? Is is live or is it Memorex?

Such dilemmas have yet to present themselves this morning. As I mentioned, it is as quiet as Kansas in my head right now and nothing is different between yesterday morning and this morning (in terms of medication changes, anything I ate or drank, or anything I did yesterday). I did receive a lot of feedback yesterday in the form of comments, emails, etc. I will be sorting through them today (I was just too overwhelmed to read anything yesterday), so thank you so much for all the information and leads! Let me just say this: I promise everyone if I ever feel "untreated" by my medical team I will demand to see someone more specialized who can help me. But keep in mind that what I have described so far is not really a chronic condition. Yet. (Cross fingers.) At this moment it is more like a curiosity, and it has happened only twice now. I will report it. It seems—just like with my recent "brain shocks," which were horribly painful for a while but are now not occurring at all—that I go through patterns of strange events in my head for a while ... and then they pass. These auditory auras are probably the next thing on the list, and I hope these will pass too.

Maybe next I will start seeing things that are not actually there, like the referee at the end of the Lions-Bears game.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Siren

Good morning, everyone. It is just past 5am and I have already had quite a day. At 3:15am I was woken by the siren. I rose from bed and walked around the house, swatting at light switches and trying to find the source of it. We are deep in the woods. There are no sirens. But I could hear it outside somewhere, off in the distance, just over the tops of the trees.

Yesterday I noticed some strange things happening again. With the sun in my eyes the high pitch in my ears blared again. When I closed and opened my eyes, the pitch changed. Light relating to pitch change has been an issue before with my ear ringing. It hasn't been that way for a while, but here it was again.

By 4am the siren fell mute and I returned to bed. At 4:27am, it returned (a little louder) and I rose again. I was now fully awake. And now our dog Noah had to go out. When I let him outside I followed him so I could look up at the stars.

The screaming startled me. It was off in the distance. Make no mistake, it was a stadium full of people screaming, just beyond the treetops. This was not screaming I was imagining in my head. This was actual terrified screams I was hearing.

I slapped myself -- hard -- to make the screaming stop. Like switching channels on a radio, the noise changed to music, a loud chorus of low brass instruments alternating between two chords, just beyond the treetops. I was completely awake, not groggy.

MJ greeted me at the door when I returned inside with Noah. She saw how I was visibly shaken, almost in tears.

I am not going to allow myself become a victim of this. As I write these very words those two brass chords are sounding outside, right now. They are real, and yet they are only real because I am choosing to hear them. I can see how people can be driven insane by this phenomenon, and I must find a way to stop it right from the start. I cannot let this spiral out of control because it really will [end of sentence deleted by me on the second reading.]

In two more days I have an MRI (that has been scheduled for a while) so I don't see much point in running to a doctor. As soon as I post this I am going to lie down and try to relax, or distract myself with reading or a crossword. Sirens, screaming, brass music. It has been a loud morning.

I will make this stop. I have to.