Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Well, Can You?


Blog4Brains
asked this question yesterday: Can You Hear Your Eyeballs Move? The post refers to the story of a man who suffers from "an odd syndrome caused by serotonin and a little part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens…a horrid grating noise coming from his eyeballs." He continues with this reflection:
After I originally read this story, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this proves that our reality is nothing but electrical inputs, and how we trust our brains to interpret them correctly. It is our brain that will decide what is essential and what is not. But what if our brain does not interpret them in the way that represents what is really “out there”? What does that do to our sense of “reality”? So, is the world around you really like what you think it is, or is your brain wrong? I guess we will never know. But what can be learned from [this man's] incredible story, is what you think you perceive may not be “really” reality."

Oh yes. I do get this. Because I suffer from the same "odd syndrome." I too hear my eyeballs move in my head. No neurologist has been able to determine why I suddenly developed this disorder 10 years ago. One doctor had the good sense to put me on an anti-depressant (which regulates serotonin levels), and that did the trick. If I miss a dose, the sound returns within hours.

The really fun part for me is that the sound operates in tandem with nystagmus, a neurological disorder that causes the eyeballs to jerk involuntarily from side to side, which means the sound is relentless because my eyeballs are in constant motion whenever the medication wears off.



I've done a whole lot of research on this, and the easiest-to-understand article about it can be found here. The article says acquired nystagmus, the kind I have, is generally temporary; the ER doctor who diagnosed mine said it usually corrects itself after an hour or so—this, after I'd been in the ER for six hours. In my case, the disorder is chronic and will keep me on medication for the rest of my life, barring the discovery of some other treatment. As I commented in response to the Blog4Brains post, it’s maddening. But there are so many other challenges to my perception of reality that I do try to ignore this one.

So, can you? Can you hear your eyeballs move? If so, maybe we could start an online support group. Or not.

3 comments:

John Michael De Marco said...

This is very interesting. I've never noticed the sound myself, but I hear other noises sometimes such as a low-pitch ringing. Hearing loss already at my tender age?

Anonymous John said...

First, I want to mention my frustration at all the "verification" boxes on the internet that have me type in what I see. Maybe my eyeballs don't work right, but I have a hard time reading them and more than once I have decided not to comment because I can't get past the verification box. I feel better.

Second, I'm in the midst of that question now - not really about eyeballs specifically - but how the electrical and chemical pulses in our brain change how we perceive things.

I just started this new ADD medication that has given me a weird side effect. I can't hear Jesus. It's not that I'm schitzo - it's just that I don't have the daily communion and interaction in prayer that I used to. Suddenly, it feels like God is an intellectual being rather than a personal one. Like a figure to be addressed (like an idol) rather than a friend. More than anything else a medication has robbed me of His presence - and it's a weird place to be for sure.

Anyway - glad to know someone else has wrestled through the question.

I always enjoy your posts - keep them coming. The quirkiness is refreshing.

Best,
AJ

Marcia Ford said...

To John D.: I hope it's not hearing loss. Maybe you just need to back away from the computer :).

To AJ: Before I was put on antidepressants, a different doctor prescribed a medication that made me want to jump out of my skin. I couldn't pray, I couldn't focus, I couldn't function normally (well, normally for me). Eventually, those side effects went away, but the med ended up not working on the nystagmus so I quit taking it. I realize that's not what you're describing, but it may be that you just need some time to adjust to the new med. In any event, I guess we just need to keep remembering that our perception can be affected by so many varied factors, and that when our perception is so radically skewed, as in your case, it's most likely due to a temporary glitch in our neurological impulses.

Thanks for the kind words about the blog!