ears to heart, heart back to ears. repeat.

One evening not so long ago I was listening to “This American Life” while jogging.  At the end of my hour-long run, the podcast was ending as I was super close to home, and the closing song came on…

“if the kids .. are united .. they will never .. be divided!”

The punk rock song (by Sham 69) went from the ear buds past my hearing faculties and just straight to my heart.  My legs started pumping, sprinting me up the hill, my brain took me through this super vivid flashback- thinking of being a young sweaty middle schooler, at a 7 Seconds show with some friends.  7 Seconds played their cover of If The Kids Are United, and I remember feeling so empowered.

I was a kid.  We were united.  I thought we could take on the universe.  My fists were pumping (and not in the Jersey Shore kinda way), and I just felt that the couple hundred of us huddled into some crappy Daytona dive venue, we could change the world.

random mosh pit pic i found on a google image search

Back in 2012 my jog wrapped up, the song was over and I got to thinking: my heart and hearing connection has always been a close one when it comes to music.

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad’s mix tapes.  My dad’s a total mix tape genius, oh man.  I grew up in this world of themed tapes for every mood.  Bruce Springstein by the pool, Wham! when we’re kicking off a road trip.

As I got older he introduced me to his most precious gems: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle. Concert soundtracks for Woodstock, No Nukes; all these amazing 70’s artists.  We’d drive around, because listening to music is best done in the car, and he’d explain the feelings each song brought to him.

me and my dad, a couple years ago

I best understand my father’s pain and sadness during my parents’ divorce via “Only Living Boy In New York.”

I have to compose myself here, literally, tearfully wincing as I’m writing.  It’s that emotional for me.

For every event there is a song.  A life-long soundtrack that encompasses all genres, envelopes all emotions.

From my ears, to my heart – music goes. 

When I started to find my own music: Sublime, Alanis Morissette, NOFX, Blink-182 – they spoke to me too.  I would sit in my room, “doing homework,” just listening to my CDs on repeat.  93KRO was the alt rock station that existed when I was in middle school in Daytona Beach – I’d listen nonstop, letting them teach me about the Cranberries, Poe, the Toadies, etc.  I remember getting ready for school every morning to “Dude Ranch,” putting my blue mascara on.  Yeah!

seventeen year old me

And high school? College?  Oh man.  As punk gave way to emo, I went in head over heels.  I was a chest-pounding misty-eyed emo dreamster, speaking to my closest friends strictly in song lyrics.  Seriously, we’d communicate in lyrics.  Some of us still can do it.  Crying at the Dashboard concert kinda stuff.  Sprinkled in with some pothead memories, a lot of Dispatch and Ben Harper, of course.

my friend in green and in white = me, gettin funky at a dmb concert years and years ago

So as 28-year-old me is uphill jogging and I’m reflecting on this ear-to-heart beeline, I ponder: does it go both ways? 

For any of y’all not in the loop: I currently suffer from a condition my doctors call “peripheral neuralgia,” or “atypical facial pain.”  For the past 12 months my right ear has been hurting so badly.  The pain radiates from my ear, to my cheekbone, forehead, jaw … and it’s so debilitating that I can’t even think.  I’ve been on a whole mess of meds, treatment attempt after treatment attempt has failed, and it sucks.  I just want my ear to stop hurting.  The meds I’m on hold me for the time being, with a limited amount of breakthrough pain, but they aren’t a cure.  I can’t conceive while on these meds, they have side effects that I don’t like.

total fail - didn't work.

icing my neck on a day my ear was hurting real bad!

I feel broken.  It’s infuriating, depressing, frustrating, and sad that we (my amazing team of doctors and I) can’t get to the bottom of this.  I’ve had better success with two kinds of cancer.

My ear hurts every day.   Just the right ear.

And well, the little things hurt.  When a baby cries, when a mic reverbs, a whistle, a horn, my neighbor’s super loud and obnoxious bass – all of these sounds and noises, they HURT me.  Physically.  I hate it.  I have to wear an ear plug in my right ear a lot of the time.  I always have to wear it at church, it’s way too loud in there.

The ear pain started last January (2011), in the aftermath of the miscarriage I had. The stress of the miscarriage did a lot of damage to my body in general (the grotesquely mismanaged miscarriage, during which I bled heavily for 15 days, for a total of 30 when all was said and done).  I have a genetic blood disease, porphyria, and stressors take a harder hit on me than they do your average young and healthy person.

But maybe there’s a more simple answer: that heart-to-ear expressway.

Losing that baby was so sad.

Sad is such a lacking word.

I wanted to be a mother.  I was so happy to be pregnant.  I was so excited to have a baby.  Overjoyed, blissful, grateful, peppy.  It was the best I’ve ever felt in my life.  And then… it was taken away from me, in a rather undignified way, a drawn-out, painful, way.

I’ve experienced sadness and loss in my life – of course, who hasn’t? – and I can honestly say the greatest heartache I’ve ever suffered was losing that baby.

And it surprised me with how terribly sad it was.  I had no idea that a miscarriage was that hard to go through.

From my heart, back to my ears, so the connection goes? 

The idea is intriguing.

I mean, there are other things that I know to be true – I have musculo/skeletal damage on my right side, in the nerve path of my ear/face.  I have nerve damage. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this one-sided ear ache, it’s just the only time it hasn’t gone away after a week or so.

As far as mending my heart, I think I’ve come a long way.  I was never angry about the miscarriage, no one is to blame.   I was always just sad.

If anything, the event was part of a path the reignited my faith and brought me even closer to God.  It brought Duggs and I closer together.  I’ve been to therapists of all kinds – regular, neuro-psych, pain psych, etc., and they all say I’m doing okay, that I’m happy and well adjusted, doing the best I could be doing, given the circumstance.   In the past year, I’ve emotionally come a long way.

A great deal of heart healing has gone on. 

So am I just waiting for the ear to catch up?

In an effort to tackle the problem from the other side, I’ve jumped back into music with a new-found passion.  I don’t spend that much time in the car these days, and I’ve gotten kinda addicted to TV, so re-immersing in my jams has felt good.  I totally have Spotify to thank, I’m so obsessed.  And running; running again gives me reason to rock out.

cake will be here in hawaii later this month - i think i should go on therapeutic grounds!

So this inner express lane from my ears to my heart, it feels roundtrip.  Maybe the way to cure my facial pain isn’t through Lyrica, but lyrics? Ha. Do you like what I did there? Lyrica is one of my meds.  That’s funny.

If anything, perhaps soaking myself in my most favorite of tunes will be a way to help me feel better in general and/or distract me from the pain?  Maybe my heart has more healing to do than I’ve realized?

The connection feels real to me though: ears to heart, and back again.

….

As always, thanks for reading!!  Love, happy hippie rose

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5 responses

  1. I’m a new reader of your blog – and sorry to hear about your painful ear and miscarriage. I totally agree with you about music being therapeutic (and totally having the ability to take you back to certain times in your life.) P.S. – Cake is one of my all time favorite bands since high school. I saw them in concert a year or so ago and LOVED the show. You should definitely go!

    • thanks for the kind words! music has always been so integral in my life, it’s such an awesome way to remember events or phases. and i’m so glad to hear that cake is good live, and at a recent show. they’re one of my all time faves, for sure!

  2. I cannot imagine life without music. I never got big into mix tapes of CDs, but my iPod Shuffle is kind of several mixes; I can pick the part I want. But life has pretty much always had a sound track. During years when I couldn’t stand anything on the radio, I’d either search out Indie stuff, or just live off my built up collection, kind of like Egypt under Daniel surviving the famine years. (OK, I wouldn’t die physically without music, but if I couldn’t at least hear it in my head, something in me would die for sure!)

    Sounds (no pun intended) to me like you’re on the right track (npi).

  3. I am sorry to hear about your recent sadness and pain and I thoroughly endorse therapeutic cake. Reading your commentary about music was spot on with my life line of music too. I’m 27 so I hit those same music milestones.

    There is nothing that makes me feel better than blasting my favorite music and driving down the open road with the windows down.

    • Oh yeah, I’m 28 – so we totally know the same music trends. What were some of your big music milestones? What CD did you just wear out?

      The other night Duggs and I were cooking dinner, so I found a Jock Jams playlist on Spotify, and I was jamming out. It was hilarious. Totally brought me back to middle school, and I was thinking about the dances I used to go to at our town’s rec center. Tootsie Roll, The Train, etc. It was awesome!

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