Friday, September 15, 2017

How Hope was Created by A Record Player And Complex Disease Anxiety Decreased with Music.

In the midst of some complex medical challenges I have found a slight sense of solace. To be honest, for a long while, getting through the day has been considered a "success." It has been years of digging for the source of my odd blood work, symptoms ect. even though I 'present' as a fairly well adjusted and healthy adult. I finally see an Internal Health Practitioner 'Internist' and Hematologist in the next month...and possibly a Geneticist if my one test is proven a genetic mutation which looks to be the case. My blood work was considered serious enough to warrant these precautions and though my research the last few days has been worrisome and overwhelming, it is also a slight relief to know it wasn't all in my head. Slight, being the operative word. The genetic part of the puzzle makes sense for some of the issues I have had since childhood. Oh, and hey, I always could relate to the X men. I always thought I could be a mutant:) Who knows what that result will mean for the future or if it will be accurate for my circumstances, but there has to be a silver lining somewhere...

Which brings me to my little itty, bitty sense of solace beyond those few people in my life (my family, Instagram gals, and bestie amongst a few key supports), that is providing a sense of inspiration, however small it is. This is my new solace machine:

Currently, my player is churning out Norah Jones as I sit typing. Mellow grey clouds hover near. Both literally and figuratively.

I never have liked being a cliche or crowd follower. Records are in vogue which was a huge point against them in my books. It all started when my daughter used her hard earned savings for a 1950's suitcase record player. I was proud that her first choice of record was 'Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.' My dad lent us expensive speakers to use which accentuated the beauteous sound of the records. And suddenly, I was back to my childhood. I felt like a piece of my life, from a less conscious place, was handed back to me. I recalled the many afternoons I laid on our living room floor in the sunshine, next to the family record player, with my dad's huge headphones perched on my head, and the long twisting chord wrapped around me, reading the lyrics or pouring over the album's pictures. A piece of myself I didn't know was missing came home. Trendy or not, it wasn't something I could deny myself.

My husband bought me my own 1970's player. I think perhaps I was craving a more physical connection with my music, a raspier sound, and tangible printed lyrics. I was a teen in the nineties and finding a range of music was a hunt and perhaps more valuable because the music was not at your fingertips- though I admit I love available music at this time period in history too.

It was rare for someone like me, to know every musical genre. I worked for that knowledge and collected bands and oldies friends had never heard of. I made it my mission to make as many mix tapes as possible and spread the musical education of the classics and the silly and obscure, angry or eclectic. It was pre iTunes and Pre Glee, before the classics came the rage. I was a walking Gilmore Girl with my interests (a show that excited me when it came out because I knew every single film and musical reference it made.) Now, I confess that while I love all music and the genres, my go to of choice are often 70's and 80's songs, mellow Autumn music (Jazz and Easy listening) or Christmas music...because I find that I need 'feel good' inspiration. I'm not as cool as I once was for range, but I can still appreciate the beauty of any score of music.

I still love my iTunes songs and the accessibility of songs on Youtube. But the record player is a nice supplement to when I need a little bit more. I like that it is not easy to find the few records I actually want. I love that I made a connection with my aunt, whom is dying of terminal cancer. She was able to make a last trip and brought me a huge case of all her old records. We sat and listened to a few, talked about some of the tunes she introduced me to, and jived to Dancing Queen. The record player brought us another memory together. I also love the joy of the hunt again...looking for some of my favourite albums in vinyl form.

I loved 1930/40's record players but because of the expense I skipped to my next favourite time period- the Seventies. The decade before I was born but the decade my parents were stuck in, even though it was the 80's, with their style and choices. I feel so many comforting feelings just by watching the tilted whir of the golden boxed record player. The warm crackle accompanying the music, enhanced by the amplifier, causes my soul to exhale stress and inhale home.

It was an aspect of self, outside of my self, that I needed. Crooners especially sound more poignant on record...and Christmas music. I admit to being a Christmas music junkie even though it can be lame or sound uber religious...I still love the tunes and play them even when they do not line up with what I believe, Amy Grant's Christmas songs are still amongst my top played. Nat King Cole crooning the 'Christmas Song' or Bing singing 'White Christmas' make me feel immediately encompassed with magic. I have already played Christmas in our home this September. I don't understand why that horrifies some people. It was simply what I needed to change my mood.

Last weekend, everybody in our family fought. It was gloomy. It didn't start raining nicely until most of the day was done. We had a huge meltdown that I ended up having to deal with and talk through for about an hour and a half. Then my husband and I fought like we have not fought in months which brought up a lot of PTSD from the last year. I was miserable all around. It probably doesn't help that one of my elevated blood markers causes lethargy and matter how many gratitude and meditation practices I do, it is a feat to keep the crankiness at bay. But then I was sitting in my room and I thought "Wait missy, I believe you have to (in part) make the world that you create. So why am I not acting upon that? Where is the world I am creating and how can I actively change it RIGHT now? " So instead of wallowing in my bed like I wanted to do, or crawl in my closet and cry and cry and cry, I decided that I could it least make the house cozier. So I cleaned and I put on Christmas lights and I got my daughter to bake something that we could all eat - Cornmeal Yugort Muffins -and then I realized that Christmas music was just the ticket. So I put on Christmas music in September because sometimes we need to do that. And it worked beautifully. And then the rain started coming ... my daughters plans got cancelled but she was kind of relieved, because our house was starting to become in harmony again and she wanted to witness the peace. She also wanted to listen to records in the rain… Most of the day was a write off and I'm still healing from some of it, but at the same time, changing the music enabled me to know how much I have.

Mood changers like music and seasonal changes before they are actually happening are sometimes needed. Being able to clean, creating good food and enjoying wonderful company in my harmonizing daughter was healing. Emotions can be nitty gritty and sometimes even an active choice. That day I spent at least an intense hour with each child listening to their woes and because of that effort, each child ended up feeling safe. And that feeling of safety was enhanced with Christmas music on a record player.

If I hadn't followed my heart and convinced my husband to purchase an early birthday present, I would not have experienced the peace that has accompanied the time each day that I take to put a record on. My body and spirit drag through most moments. I valiantly try to fight through what I can, salvage positive memories, and also teach my children to LIVE, but living in my current conundrum of a body without much direction, has been devastating. As the minutes tick by I know the symptoms I feel should be managed in an ideal situation and I know I could be more than I am. I know that I have some dangerous complications including sudden possible death by stroke, early Dementia and Alzheimer's, heart attack and blood clots due to one of my elevated blood markers which stem from a deeper issue...and reading about it prepares me in many ways but also overwhelms me and makes me wonder if I will find a medical professional who can help me through it the way my body needs to be treated. The pieces of why I can not even tolerate most vitamins or many foods are finally beginning to fit together. Yet, at the same time I know we are on a good path, even if it ends up being a detour, and that I have a few sturdy people in my life whom I can depend on to pick up whatever pieces fragment along the way. I am so thankful for these people who have their own life tragedies, illness and death to deal with. The record player is a tangible reminder of this proverbial horn of plenty. I can feel the soul in the music which reminds me of the souls in my life, in the earth, and in my home. The infusions of inspiration that may be small but matter. They matter as much as life itself matters.

Now I must turn the record player off and force myself to walk my daily walk, even though each step feels like a feat. Because life is a balance of both. The music prepares or heals after the journey or even fortifies during, but there are still active choices to be made. The dance is waiting.

Oh and I did end up painting our door purple...

Song Choice: Put your Records On- Corinne Bailey Rae


S said...

I cannot thank you enough for writing this. I also go through (and right now too, I am going through) similar situations ( health wise). Your writing and posts helps me to deal with this massive confusion and discomfort that I go through daily. I wish to write more often to you regarding this but sometimes, words are left unexpressed and stays in some corners of my mind. The pain and suffering and the confusion is there and when I read your words, I feel that Ok, I have someone who is exactly feeling the same and when she (you) guides me or writes about this, I feel free as if my feelings have been released by someone. You also inspire me to take a look at different perspectives in the midst of pain. I am fortunate to share this journey with you, you give a voice to my feelings when I am not writing /blogging. I am glad that you are getting creative in the midst of it all by playing music,painting your door, Its really nice to see all these new creative things. Sometimes, I don't feel motivated enough and when I see you doing something, I feel like doing similar creative work. I am also glad to know that you found solace in music.This week, I did some outfit shopping ( which I do rarely ) as I wanted to feel good by wearing them. And guess what ? I bought a few white tops after ages ( after seeing you wearing white in IG ) !!
Hope you feel better,

Anonymous said...

Yeah! You got a record player! That's awesome! And like your last poetic paragraph points out, music is therapeutic, it is a form of healing, I sometimes say music is life, just because music has been huge for me at various points in my life (from when I was in grade 9 and 10 processing my mother's MS to the last couple of years discovering Bob Dylan and delving into the world of ambient music - which I've found helps with stress). It looks like a nice record player too! Nice gift. Man, listening to records while it's raining and listening to Christmas music! So good. I've found some good finds at Value Village before and I imagine there's a used record store where you could find some goodies.

The medical challenges must be so frustrating, not sure how you cope with all to be honest. I really hope the various doctors and appointments will lead to properly identifying the issue so you can return to normalcy, etc., or at least able to better manage, etc.

Kmarie A. said...

S: Thanks - I am glad it helps you through discomfort and confusion. That is such a heart warming comment. You saying that adds more to my journey too. THANK YOU very deeply - I am touched. I am also inspired by you and I hope you find some new creativity soon. Ohhhhhh shopping!!!! that is fun! I cant wait to see a few pics of you in white as white will suit you!!! I am glad I inspired that. Thank you love! You too!

N: I am glad you find healing and solace in music too. Speaking of poets- Dylan is quite that... yes so good.
The medical challenges are frustrating and thank you for that sentiment. Peace to you too:)

Anonymous said...

The music hunt of the old days... I was confined to the radio. If it didn't come on the radio or we already had it on cassette. we did without. We only bought one or two new cassettes before CDs came out, then we had a tentative collection of about five. Now with the availability of the internet, it would seem my musical preferences lie mostly with traditional and folk music around the world. Christmas music is pretty special, no matter how corny some of it can be. :)