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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Auditory Hallucinations and the Responsibility of Being a Mom

In most cases, Auditory Hallucinations strike at the onset of deafness. Those who suffer from them say it's as if someone has turned on a radio inside their head. Music, which they have no control over, plays and plays sometimes to the point of madness. Scientists took pictures of patients' brains at the moment they said they were having an auditory hallucination. Then they took pictures of regular peoples' brains while listening to the radio. Both sets of pictures looked exactly the same.

I learned about this fascinating disorder last week while listening to Radio Lab. Leo Rangell was the first interviewee in a series of people talking about their hallucinations. One day, he woke up in the hospital to the sound of a Rabbi singing outside his window. Twelve years later, the music is still playing inside his head.

As Leo tells it, he didn't realize the music was inside his head. He really thought it was coming from outside his hospital window. With each new day as he got progressively better, the music changed. It got perkier, happier. Until he was riding in the car on the way home and realized that even though he was not beside his hospital window, the music was still playing. And this time, as he drove home fully recovered, he listened to these lyrics: "When Johnny comes marching home again, Hoorah, Hoorah."

At first the music nearly drove Leo crazy, but now in his late nineties he said it's become his friend. In fact, the music talks to him. If he really pays attention, he says there's always a reason for the song he's hallucinating. For example, a few years after his wife passed away, he woke one morning to the song "Bring Back My Bonnie to Me." Later that same morning, he realized it was his wedding anniversary.

This weekend I caught a severe head cold and have been sick as a dog. All weekend, I was snuffly, feverish, achey, and irritable. Poor Dwayne got the brunt of it. I wanted just to sleep. But couldn't seem to get more than a few hours in a row, because Noelle was battling an ear infection of her own and was extra needy.

The majority of my frustration stemmed from my pre-baby self, the me who believed that I had a right to a sick day, a day off - free of any responsibility. 'Round about Sunday afternoon, while I held Noelle's rosy little face in my arms, I realized for the hundredth time since having her that I'm a mother, and we don't get sick days. At least not for a few more years.

This may sound depressing to you, but it was actually freeing to me. Once I stopped trying to pass her off to Dwayne or grandma or grandpa and just accepted my responsibility, things went much better with the two of us.

Anyway, I woke up this morning to the sound of her squeaking in the other room. Dwayne had gone to work, so it was just me and her plus our colds. A song started playing in my head. Just the melody. I couldn't quite place it.

I thought of Leo Rangell and his songs and how they always mean something. Suddenly the lyrics clicked into place. It was the Beatles. As I sat spooning mushed up bananas into her mouth, these words ran through my mind;

"Eight days a week. I love you."


Blogger Liz Wright said...

Christin, she has gotten so big! And look at those beautiful eyes, she is going to be fighting the boys off! :)

I'm hoping your parents moving our way will bring you guys our direction more often!

6:44 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I love your honesty! We had the flu three times this winter. With three kids it equaled out to at least one month of cleaning up messes, doling out the meds, and sanitizing little hands. I left the house for essentials and doctor's appointments only. When you're a mom, the phrases "dying to self" and "new monastic" living stop sounding so cliche and start hitting really close to home!

1:00 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

Liz, we'll be there this June! We HAVE to see each other. It's time for Mackenzie and Noelle to meet each other!

Sarah, the phrase "dying to self" has echoed through my brain so many times since having Noelle! Is it unfair of me to say that no one really understands the meaning of this quite like moms do?
Thanks for your comment! I can't imagine being sick with three little ones!! So sorry!

1:49 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

this made me smile. you're a beautiful mama :)

7:37 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

I'm relearning this principle with the birth of Josiah. You express what moms feel so well, Christin. I hope you consider a book or memoir someday.

Also, we have an elderly friend who hears Pavarotti. I did not know it was a sign of the onset of deafness. Interesting.

3:20 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Amy - as are you!:-)

Jaena - Pavorotti! How amazing. I've often wondered since hearing that story if our brains retain the entire song, but only words and phrases surface to the top or if in fact our brain only recalls a few bits and pieces of the song. I'm thinking about this because I'm worried that if I go deaf I'll only have the annoying parts of songs stuck in my head. I've seriously been considering memorizing the entirety of my favorite songs. Like stocking up for the future.
As I write this I see how insane and compulsive this is! :-)

7:52 AM  

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