Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hearing Things

     As I said before, neurologists ask some very unique questions and do bizarre things during exams, such as flashing lights and waving bottles of spices through the air. None of this magic prompts a seizure for me, but it does make it easier to share possible connections that would otherwise seem too weird.
    I'm not sure how to begin this story, so here goes...
    When my mother took me shopping for clothes as a little girl, something pretty strange always happened in a certain part of Belk department store...only the store in our hometown, not the one in Asheboro or Greensboro.
     It only occurred in one area of the store near the stairs, but it happened so often that my mother mentioned it to one of the employees. I didn't do anything weird; I felt it and then told my mother.
     What happened? Well, that's the weird part. It was hard to describe. I felt extremely uncomfortable but not in pain whenever I walked around that part of the store. There was a high-pitched noise inside my ears/head.
     When my mother mentioned it to the sales clerk, she said a few other people had the same complaint, and I was so relieved. That discovery gave me the same feeling as finally having a diagnosis for my "spells." I was relieved that it wasn't all in my head and no one else's.
Superpowers anyone?
     After we talked to her more about it, my mother and I guessed that it might be something electrical, a high-pitched noise being made by the alarm system. Perhaps I was hearing something at a frequency most people couldn't detect?
     I liked that answer because it made me feel like the Bionic Woman.
     No neurologist has ever commented one way or another when I tell my Bionic ear story, so I don't know if they see any connection to my disease or listen to be polite.
     However, I do remember it as the first time I tried to explain something in my head that no one else seemed to understand, something that was only happening to me.


     I'm an instructional assistant at my sons' elementary school here in Springfield. Every weekday, I try to make sixth grade a more positive experience for three boys with autism, and for their classmates, so they can all learn.
     Most days are successful, almost all of them, because it's a really good school.
     Part of my job is to figure out what events "set off" behaviors in my students.
     For example, one of my students gets nervous on windy days, so I keep a close eye on him and the trees outside the classroom windows when it storms. The other students are kind about it and do wonderful little things to help him stay calm.
     When I watch him so carefully on those days, how agitated he is, I wonder what it is about the wind that scares him so much. Does he feel it more somehow or in a different way?
     Does it hurt him the way that one part of that one store hurt me, in a way that is very, very real but no one else can feel but him?
     Is it scary, like the beginning of my seizures, or is it wonderful, like the middle part? Does he run to the window in fear or fascination?
     Most of all, I wonder how he stays calm and sits still in class, usually, when obviously he is feeling something else the rest of us aren't...Something he can't explain to us in words.
     Suddenly, I don't feel so alone any more.