Space Invaders, Yar’s Revenge and musical soundtracks…

It’s funny how sounds can trigger memories at the most unexpected times, isn’t it?  Twelve years ago, I had my first experience in an MRI machine.  As they slid me into the long tube, lying flat on my back, I wasn’t quite prepared for the loud noises. (The headphones they provided were a bit of a joke, as anything coming through was drowned out by the machine.)  A series of loud pounding sounds ensued, so I decided right then and there that creativity was required: I would imagine what could be making such sounds!  As a life science teacher, I knew that Rabies was a mammalian disease, but choosing to ignore this fact, I decided that it was the sound of a mob of rabid woodpeckers attacking an oil drum.  And I was inside the said drum.  This may not sound relaxing, but it gave me something to think about.

Since that 1997 MRI, I’ve had more than a dozen such scans.  Lest I sound ungrateful, I really do appreciate that a doctor can see inside my brain without using a scalpel.  And it isn’t very often that a mother of young children is told she has to lay down and be still – so I do appreciate that.  But the sounds are quite loud.  In 1997, the pounding was primarily what I heard, but in the past few years, I’ve noticed particular pitches being sounded for a period of time, followed by a series of different sounds.  And ear plugs or headphones, provided by them, don’t really make much of a difference.  So the “sound challenge” goes on, beyond the woodpeckers.  Last week I was blessed to have almost an hour in the tube, having scans of the brain and of the spinal cord.  So double the fun!  (I do wish there were a better way to express sarcasm in writing, so in case you don’t know me, I’ll let you know – the sarcasm in the previous two sentences is dripping.  Profusely.)

If you know much about an MRI, you know that the “M” stands for “magnetic,” meaning no metallic objects can come in with you.  (no clothing with zippers or metal fasteners, no hair barrettes, watches or earrings, etc.)  I’d love to bring a pitch pipe with me to hear what the actual pitch of the long note is – I think it’s a D – but since I can’t move or bring metal along, I’ll just have to estimate.  But my imagination is NOT metallic – so in my mind, I can think of all sorts of things with the sounds.  This time, I decided I was inside an Atari console, the kind our family had in the early 1980’s. (I’ve not thought about these games for quite some time!)  With the regularly spaced out, then closer beeps, I was imagining a game of Space Invaders, then came a drawn out noise that made me think of Yar’s Revenge (the game with the giant fly that never really made sense to me).  With the Atari sounds not taking up the entire hour, my mind needed somewhere to go, so I went through much of the score of The Sound of Music in my head (this is how I arrived at D, as the repetitive pitch was the “Re” of “Do-Re-Mi” – a later pitch was A, I think, as it was “La”).  After the final rendition of “Climb Every Mountain,” I still had time and had to switch musicals, so we went to Les Miserables, and I actually thought through “On My Own” and “Stars.”  A bit more of “Yar’s Revenge” sounded, and it was finished.  Out of the tube I came.

What?  No more time with loud sounds to accompany my thoughts?  Maybe next time I’ll get further – I’ll have to start with Les Miz so I can get through the entire score.  I did choose two songs that are near the end… I’ll have to do it justice and start at the very beginning.  I hear it’s a very good place to start, you know. Continue reading “Space Invaders, Yar’s Revenge and musical soundtracks…”

parking spots and such

I had a new post I was planning to publish today, but there was a discussion I read this morning that I just had to respond to. People were complaining about handicap parking spots. First, the comment was about people using the spots without seeming to need them (I added the “seeming” – they were judging the need, without more information). Another individual mentioned that what bothers her even more is an empty handicap spot.

The last several times we have been to our area Wal-Mart, the handicap spots have all be full, and we had quite a time finding a place to park. This is the biggest reason that T.R. dislikes shopping there. Empty marked spaces in a parking lot are there so that they are available for customers who really need them, and if a parking lot is completely filled, that is a sign that it’s not large enough.

…I just wanted to rant a bit – thank you for obliging.  The comment I referred to in 2007 was in response to the start of the original blog, the concept that many disability issues are unseen, hence the “invisible issues” title.

This was first posted on June 1,2007

And just what does that look like?

I am glad to see some conversations started here! One bit was shared by Laura about a week ago, and that is something I know many face. “But you look so good!” is a nice thing to hear, but it can also be discouraging. Does he mean that I look really nice today, but shouldn’t? Does she mean that I must be exaggerating, I really can’t feel as wiped out as I say I do? Do they mean that I’m being a hypochondriac?

The reason I’m referring to Laura’s comment is that she had a response I hadn’t really thought of before, and I thought it was very well stated. Like many, she has a car with plates marked to let her parked in a “handicapped” spot. And like some, she doesn’t necessarily look “handicapped.” As she relayed in her comment, a gentleman approached her at a parking lot, looking quite annoyed, and informed her that she shouldn’t be parking in that spot, as she certainly didn’t look handicapped. So she extended her hand and said, “Thank you. Thank you for thinking I am not handicapped. Could you tell me what I need to look like to be handicapped?” That definitely caught him off guard, and she went on to explain that she was having a good day, and on other days she might be using a cane or a chair.

With M.S., fatigue is a major issue, and even if a person is able to walk in a straight line without a cane on a given day, walking a distance can use all of her energy. So parking nearby helps at least to conserve a little bit, and this isn’t something that is easily visible. But this is a worthwhile question: what does a handicap look like? What do we expect it to look like?

A father’s strength

In any profession, I know that some days are harder than others, and I know this is even truer of professions that involve difficult, delicate situations. My father’s profession is that of family physician, a much-loved doctor who has been practicing in the same town for… let me see… 37 or 38 years. (I was there at the time he started, but I’m afraid I don’t remember back that far all too well, as I was a newborn.) Dad wouldn’t tell us about his patients, but I know they loved him then – and do now – for the knowledge, care and compassion he offers.

I know that my chatty side doesn’t come from my father, as he is not a man of many words. In fact, there are often times that I don’t really know what Dad is thinking – or feeling. (Actually, this isn’t as frequent as I’ve grown older – perhaps I’ve matured, he’s mellowed a bit, or maybe both.) Now that I am a parent, I think I understand a little more about the feelings a parent feels when a child hurts… and as a doctor, I know that Dad has had many a heartache on my behalf. This would have been very true in May 1997.

At that time, I had an MRI of the brain, as an ophthalmologist suspected something and sent me in for this test. (This doctor wouldn’t tell me what he suspected, but I think Dad knew.) Because of our coming move, my mother came with me to the doctor appointment on June 3. Mom had a message my father had wanted to share with me. He was my physician, so the MRI results were sent to him as well as the neurologist to whom I was referred. And Dad wanted to let me know before I went that it was quite likely I had multiple sclerosis.

Twelve years have passed, and Dad has attended more classes, read more publications about MS that just about any other family physician I think you could find. But what really strikes me, as I reflect, is what that spring of 1997 must have felt like to him. For me, I was frightened and searching, but for him, he had to watch as his baby girl, his only daughter, was diagnosed with a chronic illness… and there was nothing he could do about it. As I type this, I’m tearing up a bit… Dad doesn’t display his emotions on his sleeve, but I know he feels them. And he feels them deeply.

Dad, thank you for the love and support and tears and strength that you’ve given to me! This post could go on for pages, chapters, and that wouldn’t even be enough. So I’ll stop here.

I love you,

about this blog…

Why a blog? Thie actually isn’t new… it stared more than two years ago. Our local newspaper asked for area bloggers, and my husband actually thought I could bring an interesting perspective, one that people needed to hear.

Why a blog?  This actually isn’t new… it started more than two years ago.  Our local newspaper asked for area bloggers, and my husband actually thought I could bring an interesting perspective, one that people needed to hear.  Our chat brought forth a title, “Invisible Issues,” as we so often come into contact with roadblocks that aren’t easily noticeable.  As a person living with MS, one whose mobility is becoming challenged in ways that can be a bit frustrating, I submitted the idea to the newspaper.  And a blog was born.  The paper published this for quite some time, and I submitted one to three postings a week… then the newspaper was sold to different owners, and the blog changed form.  My seventy or so posts (which I thankfully saved on my own hard drive) were gone… and their set-up no longer had archives.  Also, the blogger had to email in a submission to the editorial board, for it to be approved then posted (sometimes a few days later).

Because my posts would be printed in the newspaper (only a part, but with a link to the online site), I continued… but not as frequently.  A blog is meant to be able to have a little – or a big – post, sometimes timely… and able to be edited.  If I saw a typo, I emailed it to an editor who would then change the little error.  Then came last week.  After submitting a post, I found that I couldn’t see it online without a username and password.  And one had to pay a newspaper subscription fee to have the said arrangement.  So basically, I was volunteering to create a blog that people couldn’t access without paying a fee.  (And I couldn’t see my own post until the system came through to assign me a username and password – it took more than a day, and my typos stayed there.  And the system they’re using gives a numerical password, one you can’t change to something memorable.)

If I’m to write a blog, I would like it to be accessible (accessibility is one thing I write about).  Our newspaper, like newspapers around the country, is struggling to make ends meet.  However, I think it is shooting itself in the foot by asking consumers to pay to view online content.  I know that this didn’t even work for  The New York Times, so I’m not quite sure why they think it will work in east central Indiana.  In this age of instant news and access, people will find other news sources that are available free of charge.

So there is my bit of an introduction.  One thing I did get from the paper a few months back was permission to use my previous posts in ways I wished.  So… I’ll be reposting some of my favorites in the coming weeks.  I tend to write in an informal, conversational style, so I’ll likely bop in at times with just a few sentences about life, and at times with a few paragraphs.  But I do like to write, so instead of having lots of  “this would make a fun blog topic” thoughts that go by the wayside, I’ll try to actually type them out.

Here goes – thanks for coming along for the ride.  I will try to not just make us think, but also make us smile.