Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Uncertainty and the Fragility of Life

A very good friend of my younger sister passed away this morning. She was 24, a preschool teacher, full of life. Pneumonia, complications, death. So sudden and unexpected and unthinkable. I did not know her well, but news of her passing put me into a deeply pensive mood today.

I've been lucky in that I've not lost anyone close to me, other than a dear Grandmother when I was in junior high. Today, I've shed several tears just imagining how those close to this girl must feel today - her friends, colleagues, and especially her family.  Such anguish. I can't imagine how I would feel if I lost a close friend or family member. Devastating. I know it has been a very hard day for my sister, and I grieve for her and the pain this loss brings with it.

A loss like this - sudden, unexpected, someone so young - really reminds me how very fragile life is and how much is uncertain about our days. Especially early on, I spent much time worrying about the uncertainty factor in relation to MS. It is still certainly something I worry about, simmering away on one of the back burners in my mind. But just because we have a diagnosis that absolutely means uncertainty, how is that any different from the human condition itself?? None of us can ever know what tomorrow holds, or even from hour to hour, minute to minute. My sister's friend worked on Friday, had to go to the ER on Saturday, was rushed by ambulance to another hospital on Sunday and died Monday morning. Who could have anticipated such a tragedy?

From this deep well of sadness, though, comes the beautiful reminder to appreciate the present, to live every moment like your last, to leave every interaction with every person as though it's the last time you will see them, and to be grateful for all that you have, especially for all the people you love. Make sure they know how you feel.

May you stop dreading uncertainty, and truly accept that all is uncertain and that's okay. May you shift the energy of dread and worry to searching for and reveling in the beauty that is all around us - the people, nature, the arts, physical stuff, life. Hold that beauty like the fragile gift that it is and treat it with the greatest of care.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review: The Power of Music

If you're into music, you should read this book for sure! But this is an MS/pain/health blog, so I won't ramble on and on about the cool stuff in this book that might not excite everyone as much as me. The book doesn't have a major or direct relation to MS, but it does talk about music as a therapeutic tool and has some relevant and interesting points that I wanted to share.

One is just the reminder of music as an agent of healing and the suggestion that we can and should use music to harness the possibilities of neuroplasticity. I know I need to harness the power of music more often...to distract, to change mood, to energize, to relax, and so on. I think music therapy is a very powerful type of CAM that should be more a part of everyone's treatment (and life) plan.

There was also mention of the relatively new field of physchoacoustics and its use in helping relieve pain. Dr. Concetta Tomaino of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham Medical Center in NYC did a pilot study on phsychoacoustics and MS patients with spasticity that had impressive results in reducing the amount and frequency of spasticity. An intriguing field and definitely to keep an eye (or ear?) on.

What are your favorite musical ways to affect how you feel? Do you have a song that energizes or relaxes you when you hear it?