“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.
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.