Connecting the “x”

Chapter 14
Connecting the “x”

In spite of the exhausting experience of the last trial, I returned to the lab to outdo the “x”, as well as satisfy my own experimental curiosity.

Understanding how the equipment worked, I put the hat on and began another round with the butt on the edge chair noodle inducing position. Once again I was asked to try and put the “x” in the box and failed. This was disheartening and I thought to myself, what the heck am I doing here? After taking a rest from failure, I went back to sitting in the assigned position but this time, I was asked to place the TDU in my mouth and on my tongue. Already knowing how to adjust the device, I dialed the intensity of the sensation, centered it on my tongue. This time it was different, when my position moved so did the sensation from the center of my tongue. I was blown away with surprise that the accelerometer hat could make the sensations shift with my movement!

Basically the tingling sensation felt the same as with the maze experiment, only now through my movement they were limited to a consistent feeling on five separate areas on my tongue. The main one was the orientating tingle at the center for a point of reference. Two through five were for feeling it move to the left, right, forward or backwards corresponding to which direction I moved. It was explained to me that any change of the sensation of the TDU from the center of my tongue was supposed to trigger me to know that I’m out of center. The idea was to return to the center point.

I was then instructed to return to the assigned position. I looked at Mitch and Yuri asking if they were kidding, did they forget what happens to me when I try that? Nope, they were not kidding and yes they remembered what happens. I fell into an anxious state of mind thinking that I was headed into another wobble, bobble, bing, bang, boom. Yay, I could hardly wait for the torture.

Hanging on to the arms of the chair in that ridiculous position, with a hat on my head, with this tingling on my tongue thing hanging from my mouth, I was asked to let go and let the sensation centered on my tongue keep me still enough to hold the “x” inside the box. Yea, right… Several attempts were over ruled by my usual wobbling mess. Here’s my theory about that; I had become so habituated by my disability that I was in a constant state of mind of how it infected everything in my life, yes, infected, and not just affected. Thoughts continually bombarded me and fed my perception of how my lack of balance would ever allow me to connect with the world again, much less keep that stupid “x” in the box. Sitting there in that silly position, years of accumulated noise screaming in my head, I asked myself just how the hell this TDU contraption would make me feel “normal” again, ever. With all that running around in my thoughts, I was being asked to do something I didn’t believe in anymore but I was looking for any kind of cure and if there was even the slightest chance the TDU would work, I had to keep trying.

I took some deep breaths to relax trusting this research might be the cure I was looking for. It should be easy, right? After all there were only five things I needed to think about, which technically speaking was really only one thing that required my attention, so what was my problem? The problem was letting go of all the sensations I built up over years of constant fearful thought – not something that can easily go away with champagne bubbles tingling on my tongue.

The position I was in tested my infection, I had to trust that what I being asked to do would not hurt me. Sitting there staring at an “x” connected to a theory researchers hoped would come to life, like I was Frankenstein or something. I wasn’t going to let go of the chair until the lightning struck.

Before going into the next trial I decided I would study the movement of the sensations even more – like studying for an exam before going further in class. Once I aced the test, I put my education to use, after all I was the one connected to the TDU much like a pencil to paper to take a test. Given what I strategized, I figured out I had to intently feel as well as listen to what the sensations were telling me to do.

Before I let go I put as much attention as I could into feeling the sensation at the center of my tongue. I was no doubt wobbly but at least this time when the sensation moved I knew what I had to do, bring it back to its centered place. At the beginning I seriously overshot. When that happened I lost connection with the sensations and feeling like the noodle, grabbed the chair to begin again. I was determined to get that damn “x” in the box. So, after becoming a little more intimate with the TDU, I finally figured out that I didn’t need to fling myself back to the center when I felt the sensation move.

I began to relax better and with each trial pay very close attention to what I was feeling on my tongue. When I felt the sensation leave its center position, I knew I had to slowly and bring it back to the center. Understanding my strategy, I was able to find my center and get closer and closer to completing the task of getting that “x” in the box, and hold it there. After trial and error I finally did it, using the sensations on my tongue! It wasn’t a completely still “x”, but I did it! The lab exploded with excitement! We were all amazed at the results and continuing with more trials we found that each time I became better and better at the “x” game with a connection between my movement and the TDU. Here is when I finally understood what the TDU had to do with balance!

For me the best part was when I realized how the attention to what I was doing and feeling quieted the noise in my head. How was that possible? That’s when a light bulb went on – I realized I had discovered something. When I used the TDU with the maze experiment I was paying attention to sensations generated by a computer program dictating my control. I had to follow instructions in an already formed manner that told me what to do. Using the TDU without this dictation, the new method put me in charge, I was the “computer program”, the control came from ME; my movement caused the sensations on my tongue. More importantly was that the sensations centered me which told my body where it was in space, something I hadn’t felt for years. This was the beginning of returning to a centered life.

This entry was posted in Aminoglycosides, Biomedical Research, Clinical Research, Disability, Disability Noise, Discovery, Gentamicin, Gravity, Inspiration, Institutional Review Board, Motivation, Non Fiction, Oscillopsia, Ototoxicity, paying attention, Perception, Research, Resilience, Sensory Substitution, Subject Zero, The Noise of Disability, Tongue Display Unit, Vestibular System and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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