Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vulvodynia vs. Synesthesia: When Your Ee-Yas Don't Mix

I have synesthesia, which simply put means that my senses are merged. Researcher Sean A. Day has a list of the different types of synesthesia and their frequencies. (I take credit as the person on his list with temperature > sound synesthesia.) If I were to explain what types of synesthesia I have, it'd be easier to say what I don't have: I don't taste or smell anything but sight (and even that is very faint), and I don't feel temperatures from anything but sight.

What that means for my vulvodynia is that on top of feeling the pain, I also see and hear it. The past couple days it's been pretty awful: it looks like minced-halloween-candy flambe and sounds like Lloyd and Harry screaming the most annoying sound in the world in Dumb & Dumber:

(Here is an embellished version that made me laugh...yeah, that's my crotch.)

I don't believe synesthesia exacerbates my pain, but I think it does predispose me to being more easily overwhelmed by my senses -- or annoyed, as the case may be.

Take, for instance, the concert I went to last night: Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, audience seated in a theater. In addition to my flaming crotch, the guy in front of me would not stop fidgeting: looking up the aisle for his friends, leaning to talk to the girl beside him, looking anywhere but the stage, never paying attention. He was making me so seasick I'm sure anyone sitting in my seat would've wanted to smack him. But in his incessant movement he was also overlaying the music with swoosh, swoosh, bumpbumpbump, swoosh, jumjum, thump, thump... I ended up shutting my eyes. What a dweeb.

Back to my crotch (of course). When the pain first started, I noticed I began experiencing music differently: if I came upon a particularly moving moment, I'd try to do my usual musical embrace and the pain would stop me short. It's like I used to feel the music with my whole body, and now part of me is grounded and unable to resonate.

Yesterday I was watching Sigur Ros's "Svefn G Englar" video for the first time. It is so beautiful, and the music is so beautiful, and I wanted to embrace the experience and bring up the inevitable tears and feel the sound and sight and emotion through my whole body. But there it was, my crotch, constant damper, drawing me back to reality.

At first I blamed myself for not being able to enjoy the video, as if maybe I'm so focused on the pain that it's more distracting than it has to be. Then I made this analogy: it's like you're in a movie theater and the person behind you won't stop talking.

Sigur Ros: beautiful music, beautiful video
Me: Oh my---
Crotch: Hey, can you pick up the kids tomorrow? I have a dentist appointment at 5.
Me: Just watch the video. Look at that shot! Isn't it---
Crotch: Who's that guy? Is he the one who's in love with the blond chick? I thought he was dead!
Me: Video. Wow, I can't believe---
Crotch: Wait, where did they hide the money? Wasn't it in the vault?
Crotch: Do you want more popcorn? Do you want more popcorn? Do you want more popcorn?

So...yeah. Not going to get down on myself for it. Everyone hates a movie talker, and I'm not feeble for not being able to ignore mine.

Watch the video:

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