Words consume our lives but what kind do you need most? Are you a person that responds to the simplicity of the written or spoken word or is it music that draws you in?
My degree and career has always made pure words my dominating force, yet my defining moment was my first MRI scan.
Faced with the dreaded scanner and a fight against all claustrophobic thought, I chose, or rather pleaded for the comforting words of R4 or R5 Live over and above the music on offer. I love music but I need to choose it and that’s why I tend to avoid music stations - the choice is not your own and is something I can only liken to listening to your teens music, which is invariably bad!
The spoken word is engaging. It draws you in, educates you, involves you in debate and gets you to review and question your stance on any range of issues. Then there is the personality behind the voice. Whether the words of an expert or otherwise, there is something intriguing about the mental image that is conjured up by someone's voice. Of course there are some annoying ones and I can just as quickly turn off the radio for an unwelcoming voice as for a bad music choice.
Lucky for me my first time in the MRI tube I got a repeat of Just A Minute, my fondness for which, as a dear friend said to me only recently, shows my age! It did, however, remind me of my favourite day of the week - a Sunday, a brisk walk around the common behind me, a roast in the oven, my family close by, papers to hand and glass of wine in hand! What better way to cope?
For those that are lucky enough not to have experienced the horror of an MRI and can only imagine, you are strapped to a bed with heavy weight boards on your abdomen, ear plugs in, sound proof headphones on top and a panic button in hand. Then you enter the tube and are just told to breathe. Ha ha. So easy when you are on the outside. But so not the case when you are the one in the tube.
Do these people on the outside actually ever go in as part of their training to find out just how horrendous it is?
Every ten minutes you get a message to say how well you are are doing whilst you try and go into a zone that is not where you are right then and avoid those negative thoughts. What can they see? How bad is my cancer? Is it anywhere else? Will they tell me or just smile and say goodbye?
I don’t do mindfulness but I am sure if I did I would pass right now with flying colours. Stillness is key in those tubes and for that you need another level of control and mind over matter. Added to the muddled mess in your head of doubt about what is going on with your body, is the noise, which even with the dulcet tones of whatever R4 or R5 Live controller you get landed with is tough to ignore.
After a day in the tube last week, my best description for those on the outside is that it is like being locked in a steel can with a hangover, whilst all your neighbours’ house alarms go off and a pneumatic drill pumps away in your skull.
Can it get any worse? Yes is the short answer. The journey in to the tube and preliminary "are you ok?" checks are followed by shaking and vibration, which is according to those on the outside apparently normal, but after an hour of several 8 minute sessions, so doesn’t feel like it. Your bones literally reverberate. Words whether of the spoken or musical kind are not enough actually in this instance. You need another zone of calmness, of the kind I rarely do but has so far surprised me by appearing when I most need it. Mental images of my husband and children have been my back up.
Anyway, moving on and back to the importance of words in my life - the written word has been a source of solace to me over the last few months since my diagnosis, not only those of others but my own. Sharing my thoughts offline and on has helped me to cope with those dark moments, to quite simply stop panicking and to try and make sense of the turmoil around me. My go to talk based radio stations have continued to keep me company when everyone else around me has been just getting on with their life, because why shouldn't they?
For me, I am sticking to what I know best - words! Calming, reasurring, distracting and alluring, in other words another world than the one you are in. Written and spoken I need words in my life more than ever.
What do words mean to you?