Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Music and Noise

Music is usually painful, since migraines. But, I've discovered that when my head is just right, and there are no competing noises to worry about, I can enjoy it almost as much as I did back when.

My sound sensitivity started decreasing as soon as we moved away from the constant influx of the city. It's often completely silent in my neck of the woods, save for the birds, cicadas, and the cracks and creaks of normal woodland movement. We can hear the neighbors, but only distantly. I wear earplugs a few times a month, if that; when we have tree work done, or my boyfriend is snoring like an aspirating wildebeest, for example. And I feel like my noise tolerance is much better for traffic, and other conflicting sound situations, but once I hit my tolerance, however improved it may be, it's the same old story, so I still have to be very careful.

Music's been out of the question for a long time, and that means no radio in the car, no ambient, background tunes while we socialize, and no live shows or festivals featuring live music. The clash of instruments, certain pitches of horns or vibrations of bass can make my nausea, dizziness and head pain immediately disabling, so after a few punishing attempts early on in my migraine career, I resigned myself to a life without music.

It was devastating, and only one of many horrible realizations I made about my migraines and my future at about the same time. I loved to sing (terribly), I loved to dance, I loved to blare my favorite song over and over, so loud that I couldn't hear myself think anymore, and all I could feel was the rhythm, in my bones and in my blood.

I didn't try to listen to music again for a long time; after I'd grieved its loss, I tried not to think about it so hard, and I nearly missed it when it came back to me. One day, a few months into my newly quiet life, I started noticing that I could listen to the tv at an audible level, still quieter than most people, but captions weren't absolutely required to be able to catch all the dialogue. (My sound sensitivity may have improved, but my aural comprehension is still in the tubes, hence the need for captions at school. I felt the need to clarify.)

I caught a few music videos one morning, I remember Rihanna's We Found Love in a Hopeless Place and Adele's Rolling in the Deep both made me stop and stare at the tv. Later, hope fluttering my heart, I opened myself up a free Pandora account and made an Adele channel. Earning my love forever, the first song it played for me was Rolling in the Deep and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby while dancing and singing to it. It wasn't as loud as I used to play it, and I couldn't quite holler-sing like I used to, but it was the happiest moment I'd had in a long time.

Twirling, dancing, singing as loud as my head would allow me, the dog staring and wagging her tail uncertainly, and my whole body, my whole being felt so good, so in tune with life around me, so vibrant with passion and joy. The freedom of it was decadent. It still is.

I've taken to putting on music when I clean, and it makes the chores go by so much faster. I'm still pretty limited, and I have all sorts of rules for keeping music within my tolerable ranges. Like immediately skipping songs if they are even slightly annoying to my ear, because certain pitches and vibrations just do not work with this head of mine, and there is no talking while the music is on, because competing noises are truly my kryptonite; but I will absolutely take what I can get.

My current musical obsessions are the song, Royals by Lorde, the Rolling Stones, and old R&B. Pandora is great for the ability to skip songs and make my own stations based on my likes and dislikes, but their player is difficult to use on my PC with my color settings, and their commercials tend to be excessively loud, but not too frequent, even with a free account.

I'm so fortunate to have been able to reclaim music; it's an easy source of endorphins, a great stress reliever, and helps me feel a little more connected to the world.