I was lying in bed one night and saw colors on the ceiling… colors in stripes of reds, blues, yellows and greens. The room was black so the tint of these colors was dark but distinctly each their own shade.
It was while I was considering the display on my ceiling that I first heard the music. My hands felt my ears for headphones, but I didn’t have any on. It was as though the sounds were coming from within me, from my being. And it was beautiful music; I kept thinking I’ve got to remember this melody. All the while I knew I was hallucinating, none of this was real. But the song was such that I couldn’t possibly want to forget it… as it was becoming fainter and fainter, floating away like a cloud and then it was gone along with the colors from above.
This was my first hallucination after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I expected them as forewarned, but you never know your reaction until you actually witness such things. I was calm, almost analytic in my response, but that song held my passion.
Hallucinations are false perceptions of something that is real outside of the body. The perception isn’t really there but has the qualities of being real. An example is: I see a child along a road with a red cap on; as I come closer I see that it is really a mailbox with the red flag up. The word ‘hallucinates’ comes from the root of the Latin alucinari, to wonder in the mind’. The other senses may also take part in these false observations that can be simple or complex. Since Parkinson’s affects the brain, especially the substantia nigra, it is easy to understand why hallucinations are associated with PD. My brain has become rewired; the circuits are reset causing it to wonder in this process of misidentifications.
At times, my hallucinations’ occur in my peripheral vision where shapes and objects are real but I perceive them as something else. Many times it’s the shadow of an object that projects an image and once I look directly at it, the object returns to its’ identifiable self. I see a giraffe that is really a lamp, a cat running on top of a fence is really a squirrel; a bird flying at arm’s length is a ball being thrown… to name a few examples.
Another incident I sensed was more in line with ‘vertigo’, but it is still considered a form of experiencing what is not real. I was taking my afternoon walk on a warm summer’s day when all of a sudden I seemed to stop and the sidewalk and all of my surroundings continued moving forward without me. I felt like I was on an escalator or one of those movable sidewalks at the airport.
Again we beg the question; is it the drugs or is it the disease or both that cause hallucinations’ in PD. Literature abounds on both sides of this question, which is a subject all to itself.
Now what of that forgotten melody I heard on that dark night? Shall I ever hear it again or is it playing now and I lack the wisdom to realize it? I believe that we each have a song which is akin to the Music of the Spheres. So was this my song and now I must go searching for it again as Perceval for the Grail? As Uncle Walt said, “The untold want by life and land ne’er granted. Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”
I must go!
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