Music as Pain insulation.

I’ve been formulating this post for a few days. It stayed nebulous in my mind – and then a few mornings ago I carried a couple to Melbourne airport in my Uber.  Andrew and Jo,  (both!) play bassoon and were off to Vienna to take part in a music festival with an orchestral group from Melbourne.

I love carrying musicians and talking music with them. It’s led to some of my most memorable Uber trips.
But then, occasionally, there will be an extra-dimension-thing that happens and the trip clicks into a special gear. Today it was the simple combination of two lovely, articulate and thinking people and a long ride to the airport.

I am not a believer in being secretive about health issues – but I also don’t think people will be riveted by health updates from me, so I keep my counsel.
This was different. I could not help but share my condition with them as a background to a discussion about the power of music to act as a shield or insulator against pain. I was telling them about my “Music fixes Everything” maxim, and how, all my life, that thought has carried me out of the holes I’ve fallen into, the caverns of depression, loneliness and the other inevitable potholes on life’s highway. (especially the ones I’ve created for myself…sigh…).
Music has worked to either lift my mood or conversely, to intensify my self-pity to the point of floating me out of that specific hole in a flood of virtual (or sometimes real) tears. After all, a bit of maudlin self-pity never goes astray – as long as you keep it to yourself (and your dog. Dogs are good with that.)

Not so much, with this new Enemy.
Reading thorough the blogs and experiences of those who have battled with TN for years, only the shallowest imbecile would say that music could remedy any of the savagery of pain generated by TN in full flight. I, however, am at a relatively early stage  – if indeed I am on the way to that hell – and I am finding that music has the ability – for now – to mitigate my pain. Not the initial spikes of pain, but certainly the throbbing migraine-level aftershocks left by the more intense attacks.
I think it’s working for me in two ways: Of course, there is the level of distraction (of the mind) that it can effect, when I am trying to veer away from obsessing over the pain.
There is also a physical effect, and I believe that it’s because I’m using music to relax my facial muscles, which helps ease the situations that trigger further spikes.

In any case, here’s my current Spotify playlist called “Soothing my Trigeminal Nerve” – not catchy, true….but, hey. it is what it is.
Of course, it is built around personal favourites. To pick apart the type of music that’s working for me when the pain’s bad: Staccato, dissonant, jerky, things that vary abruptly in amplitude (volume) or rhythm. All of the above, off the table.
And that’s not genre specific. Ludwig Van’s Fifth is as unpalatable as Roland Kirk’s avant-garde jazz.
Gentle, lyrical, melodic, rhythmic, flowing….these work. Even if you’re not on Spotify, casting an eye over the playlist below will give you an idea of what I’m on about. Classical, devotional, jazz, blues, folk, pop…. and probably more to come, as long as they fit into that framework.

Forgive me if you get an error message about the track or music not being available to you. Spotify will probably require you to have an account or sign up a free account. I put it there more for you to see the tracks in there.

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