Soundtrack to Pain

Image by LietingaDiena

Image by LietingaDiena

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”~ Bob Marley

Music saved my life earlier this week. Music and drugs.

Those of you who follow my blog will know that I am suffering from end-stage Lyme disease. I’ve recently embarked on a protocol of high dose antibiotics, antibacterials, herbs and other healing tools. It’s been tough, but already I have begun to see progress, so I’ve stuck with it. I’m in here for the long haul – a minimum of two years…

I woke just over a week ago, thinking I’d been bitten by a mosquito. The back of my hand itched and burned.  I hauled myself out of bed, sprayed my room with bug spray, and went in search of some lotion for the bite. By the time I found the lotion I had two more bites – one further up the same arm, and one on the other wrist.  Finally I got back into bed, but the burning continued and I kept getting bitten. That was the end of sleep for me, and it was only a little after midnight.

By morning I was in agony. It felt like someone pouring acid on various parts of my skin including the tear duct of my already painful eye, my inner right nostril, and my gum. Nothing was biting me. I was having a severe reaction to Bactrim – one of my antibiotics. I stopped the drug straight away, and expected things would get better. A rash broke out.

Things got worse.

I phoned my doctor, who lives hours from my farm, and they warned me not to take steroids, and to treat with antihistamines. I consulted a local doctor.  They told me that if the pain got too much I was to go to hospital.  At the time, that advice seemed a little extreme.

I tried my best to tough it out. At home I played loud music, and I yelled along to the lyrics.  It helped a little, but I was in agony. I meditated. I took the antihistamines. Along with epsom salts baths. I drank gallons of water with Vitamin C powder, clay and baking soda. Nothing much worked.  The pain intensified.  My ears felt like they would explode in my head.  My eyes became bloodshot and dry, and every blink felt like rubbing sand paper on my eyeballs.

Inside, I raged. My pain was maddening.

Image form www.dezinfo.net

Image from www.dezinfo.net

Music pounded through my house.  Suddenly I understood the benefits of heavy metal. It made sense to me why angry people listen to music with savage base lines and thumping beats. Soothing music irritated the crap out of me. I needed loud, brutal and relentless – something to match my pain levels.

After two sleepless nights we went to the ER.  They wanted to give me steroids.  I couldn’t have steroids. It’s contra-indicated with Lyme, and with my Lyme-induced cardiomyopathy. So we pushed saline, antihistamines and pain killers. It helped marginally.  They offered sedation as a last resort.

I went home and waited for the effects of the Bactrim reaction to wear off.  I never knew you could endure so much pain and still be alive.  All I wanted to do was scream, and I actually did try that but it didn’t help, and to make things worse, my neighbours came over to check I wasn’t being murdered. *peak embarrassment*

I tried distraction therapy – washing dishes, cleaning things – but all that happened was that I became more and more tired, and more and more distressed.  Music was the only thing that helped a little.  I emailed my beautiful Sisters – the writing group who have come to mean so much to me. I let it all hang out; the pain, the frustration, the helplessness. I swore.  A lot. They all advised me to go the sedation route if it helped.

Finally, when I was reduced to a whimpering mess, I decided on sedation.

The drugs knocked me to the edge of oblivion but the pain was still there. And then a kind nurse lent me her ipod.  I can’t tell you what I listened to. Most of the artists were unknown to me.  But I found something extraordinary.  I could ride that music like a wave, and surf over the top of my pain.  The music got right inside me, and it saved my life.

When I finally came home, the burning was down to a dull roar and a maddening itch.  A week later it’s almost gone.  My eyes are still scratchy, and I feel like I have a bad case of sunburn, but that’s manageable.

I’m grateful for modern medicine, kind doctors, caring nurses with awesome music selections and a stoic and endlessly good-tempered and strong husband who has nursed me through one of my worst weeks yet.

I’ve had two reasonably good days (hey, what am I saying – yesterday I got Freshly Pressed!), and fingers crossed today I’ll make it three in a row.

Here’s to the healing power of music.  Music and drugs.  Wow – I never in a million years thought I’d say that and mean it with my whole heart.

43 thoughts on “Soundtrack to Pain

  1. I don’t even know what to say.. But want to express something. My heart is a mix between aching in empathy at your distress and pain and swollen with gratitude and love for you, what you stand for and who you are and choose to be!! Thank you. X

  2. Well another good thing that has come out of this, you have experienced the healing power of Music! It comes from Joy love Pain and despair. No wonders there is so much power in it.
    Much love and honouring of the blessing of our 5 Senses, especialy Hearing.
    Love love love. Xxxxxx

  3. My heart goes out to you Nicole. I “knew” you were in trouble and sent messages of love and support… still with you xxx K

  4. Oh Nicole this breaks my heart. I hope you continue to find relief with your music. Sending love and a HUGE hug. xoxo

  5. This puts things into perspective. I have nothing to complain about ever again…. Sending you love and healing thoughts. xxx

  6. Gentle sister gentle gentle sister be well, bask in the clothing and cloak of love this virtual but also energetic connection affords us….. sending my own very strong and love this (Suzy if I may borrow your phrase x) thumpin’ back beat love from the western edge of europe….as we say here go on ya girl ya! just keep on kicking ass…illness ass that is….much love..xxx

  7. Your blogs are inspiring even when you’re in a rage and I thank you so so much for your generosity. I don’t reply much but I do read your blogs every day with joy. I hope it eases for you. Jessica. X

    • It’s okay, Georgia. Please don’t worry about me. I accept the healing gratefully, and I take the whole pain experience as just one of the things I must face in finding a path back to wellness. Big hugs and love to you xoxo

  8. What a powerful post. I’m relieved that you’re feeling so much better, and can imagine how the music helped you. I don’t know why it is that music speaks to something very deep inside us, if it’s down to the physics of how sound is transmitted and received by our bodies, or if it’s something altogether more emotional, but it does have amazing qualities.

    • Lorna, I wish I could understand the power of music enough to define it with words – but that’s the thing – it needs to be felt, and known with the heart.

      Yes, I am grateful to be feeling better too. And I’m still listening to music – it’s opened up whole new worlds for me. Big hugs and cups of tea to you xoxo

  9. Haha I can relate to the heavy metal music! I have had chronic Lyme for 9 years and have now almost done a whole year with very little symptoms, and I was pretty late stage….please see my post from yesterday, it may be useful…Keep positive and keep fighting!!

  10. Nicole,
    I too have a chronic illness, Multiple Sclerosis, and some days I have horrific pain! Not always, but somedays. I am allergic to Sulfa medications too. I hope you wear a Medical Alert bracelet or necklace so you NEVER are given Sulfa drugs again! Stay strong and positive. I really enjoy your blog. Take care Darling!
    Kim

    • Hi Kim, the Medical Alert bracelet is a great idea. Thank you. I surely don’t want to have to re-live this particular experience again…
      And big hugs to you to say thanks for your kind words about my blog. I really do pour my heart and soul into it!

  11. This post brought me to tears. I used to listen to heavy metal and other brutal sorts of music. I agree, it really feels soothing when in that state of constant pain (emotional / physical). Bless you. I hope you don’t have to go through anything that bad ever again. And you are a miracle, you know that.

    Whenever I feel intense pain I think ‘oh my Godde I’m going to die’ and then I make it through alright, and have greater faith because of that. It’s pretty fantastic the good things left in pain’s wake (like gratitude for medical staff, and music). I’m glad music saved you. I sing when I’m feeling awful, sometimes, and even if I’m not singing out loud, it does that same wave-like wonderful thing and I can ride it out.

    Love,
    Mia

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