The other day, as I was typing away on my laptop, trying to write a chapter in my book, the “F” key detached for what must have been the hundredth time. Somehow, the underlying pins broke off about a month ago, and, rather than spend $300 to have the entire keyboard replaced, I have been toughing it out ever since.
Enraged, I was tempted to take the key and throw it across the room, but knew that if I did that, the key would win, and I would have to avoid any words containing “F” for the rest of the book. Try to write a paragraph without the words “of”, “if”, “for”, or “from”. It’s not gonna happen.
I decided instead to take out my anger on my portable keyboard, which I had stopped using since it was hurting my wrists. (The last thing I need at the moment is to get carpal tunnel in addition to muscular dystrophy. Let’s just say that I am the reason occupational therapists do in-home assessments.)
Although I was tempted to smash my computer like the madman in this video below, I do have some degree of self-control. Instead, I took the portable keyboard and bashed it against the corner of my desk a few times – not hard enough to break off any keys (just what I would need), but still with enough force to produce a satisfying crack or two. And in case you are wondering, it felt great!
However, as soon as I got in a few cracks against the desk, I stopped.
It quickly occurred to me that, instead of arousing suspicion from my parents as to why I was having a temper tantrum, they would react with fear. Loud, sudden noises, usually mean one of two things – that I’ve fallen, or that I’m trying to signal for help.
I know that’s a downer, but it’s the reality with this disease, unfortunately. Any noise, whether it’s something falling off my desk, making too much noise trying to align my walker to get out of bed, or smashing my keyboard against my desk in a fit of rage, could easily sound like an emergency to a parent a few rooms away.
I’ve fallen several times at home over the years, and when it happens, it’s quite loud. Think of the sound you make when you drop a heavy box on the floor. Only in my instance, that box is me. Sometimes I can break the fall with a table or a wall, but the sound inevitably is a thud.
Falls, as you can imagine, are not just terrifying to me, they are also terrifying to my parents. Perhaps even more so for them. We are conditioned in this house to assume the worst whenever the is a loud, sudden noise. Fortunately, most of the time, it’s usually a false alarm.
If I’m the one making the noise, I always cringe. The scariest sound is the walker. Occasionally, I will clumsily knock over my walker near my desk or my bed, and it will tip over and tumble to the ground. It really does sound like someone falling! I don’t blame my parents for reacting with concern.
The concern, however, goes both ways. Because we are all conditioned in this house to react to loud noises with alarm, whenever I hear a noise that wasn’t the result of something I did, my heart begins to race. My parents are getting up there in years, and a bad fall for one of them could be catastrophic.
Just last week, we had come home from running a few errands, and were relaxing in our various rooms. All of a sudden, a loud boom occurred in bathroom. My parents thought I had fallen. I thought one of them had fallen. We all converged on the bathroom, only to see that the shower curtain rod had collapsed.
Thankfully, we were all ok, but it reinforced just how quickly things could change for the worst. All it takes is one of these noises being an actual fall, and it could be a game-changer.
If there is a silver lining to all of this, it’s that we care deeply about each other. Panic is born out of love, and love is always a tremendous blessing. Someday, I hope, these types of sounds can elicit curiosity instead of panic, because that would mean that I’m no longer in danger of falling and hurting myself. In the meantime, however, I will continue to be cautious, and I promise to use the keyboard how it was meant to be used – for typing – instead of as a blunt object.
Bonus silver lining: I can’t write a blog post called “Loud Noises” and not have an Anchorman reference. It’s my civic duty.