16 October 2008

I'm a hallucinating wimp.

Here's an excerpt from yesterday's journal entry:

I have a terrible headache right now and it’s all because of an fMRI scanning session this evening. It was supposed to last an hour and a half, but I was in there for close to two and a half hours. I’m not the best fMRI subject, I’ve decided. My butt invariably goes numb, I get this pathological swallowing reflex going (it feels like I’m going to choke if I don’t swallow—the same thing always happens at the dentist), the small of my back starts to throb, and I get a migraine. So, naturally, my mind is a bit preoccupied while I’m trying to maintain my attention on the task at hand. Also, something new happened tonight. When we were closing in on the two-hour mark, my headache started morphing into a freaky kinesthetic illusion. Every time I closed my eyes it felt like my head was being shoved down and toward my right shoulder, and the rest of my body felt like it was being bent sideways at my waist. The sensation went away somewhat when I opened my eyes and saw that my body was perfectly straight, but there were times when I would be looking at my body—knowing that I was looking at a perfectly straight body—and yet my body still felt like it was bending in half, and that an immense pressure was pushing on my head. This is the condition I’m in when the experimenter tells me that the scanner is giving him a warning message, and that I’ll have to wait in the scanner—without moving—while he talks to a technician on the phone. I’ve already been in the scanner for about two hours.
“Want to listen to some music?” he asks me.
“Got any Ryan Adams?”
“Sure,” he says. Ten seconds later, the Bryan Adams song “Summer of 69” comes blaring through the headphones. I try to be still while I laugh—I thought it was a joke. It repeats 5 or 6 times before it is stopped, an apology is given, forgiveness is extended, and an actual Ryan Adams song (“Oh My Sweet Carolina”) starts playing. I must be in a pretty delicate emotional state because the song is so beautiful that it puts me on the verge of tears.
The wages for this existential roller-coaster: $50


Kris said...

you forgot to mention that you're doing it AGAIN next week.


we're not THAT poor!

Kris said...

got my first real six-string, bought it at the five and dime. Played until my fingers bled, was the summer of '69!

Corinda said...

So, this has nothing to do with your post, but I saw/heard 2 things yesterday that made me think of you. The first was a bumper sticker that you may have already seen, but was an original for me. It read "Neurology is looking for a few good brains." :) The second was that I just heard scientists have successfully isolated and removed painful memories from mice. Have you heard of that? Is there any criticism of their work? Is there actually a chance that could be done to humans at some point? Not that I want any memories removed, I just thought that could be the subject of a fascinating and bank-making movie.

daniel said...

Corinda--I don't think I've heard about the study you mentioned.
I'd have to read the study to give any sort of informed criticism, but judging from past experience, these animal models of human phenomena are rarely convincing to me. First, I doubt painful memories are the same thing for mice and men. Second, how do we know if we are erasing the memory or just the ability to behave in a way that betrays that memory (i.e., we could be erasing the vehicle instead of the content)?

I like the neurology pun. :)

Russell said...

Betsy asked me yesterday where she could earn some extra money so she could buy some flattering jeans. Do they need any more MRI subjects? Is it OK that she's pregnant?

Russell said...

OK, so I just happened to stumble across some Ryan Adams--4 songs:
* I Wish You Would
* Twilight (Drunk and Fed Up)
* I'm Really Dying
* Abigail

I had to delete the first 2 because he kept using some terrible language. The third wasn't terrible, but nor was I impressed and the 4th song was a somewhat poor recording of a live session.

All in all, not very impressed with your choice of music for your brain-scan. I'm going to assume he's something like marvelously talented on a musical instrument that to the Lay Person just sounds like somebody strumming a guitar and cussing and that's why you like him.

daniel said...

It's true, Mr. Adams has a potty-mouth. He keeps it clean 90% of the time.
You were exposed to an unfortunate sampling of Ryan Adams' work. He is prolific (I think he came out with 3 albums in 2005 alone), so there is a good amount of mediocre work. But he still has a higher good song/bad song ratio than most other artists out there, in my opinion. This means that there are also a ton of great songs by him out there.

He isn't great because of technical skill on an instrument. His voice isn't that impressive. But his music is gorgeous, the songwriting is clever and solid, and his lyrics are those of someone who has seen a lot. He sings of heartbreak better than anybody. If true country music appeals to you (not the shiny packaged stuff they call country these days), you will like it. But, alas, it isn't for everyone.

I can recommend a few songs if your interest is still piqued.

Russell said...

Betsy loves When the Stars Go Blue.

I'm still deciding. It's certainly not what I would have called country--probably more Folk--but perhaps that's what real country means. It's a lucky thing it's not like contemporary country because I don't like that nasty.