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The Music of Our Lives (The Notes – Concluded)

The Music of Our Lives (The Notes – Concluded) 2048 1365 Jason Stadtlander


The following is Part 2 of “The Notes”

Michael spent hours playing hide and seek with Kasmira, which proved to be a challenge once he had finished looking for her and couldn’t find her. For she could not hear him shout “I give up! Where are you?”

Kasmira’s mother came in the second time he gave up looking for her. “I don’t know where she is, but she can’t hear me call for her.” The little boy told the woman.

Her mother smiled and stamped her feet slowly three times on the floor, so hard that glasses tumbled inside the china cabinet. A moment later, Kasmira came down the stairs, a broad smile on her face. Then her mother held out one arm as if to say “There she is!”

Michael smiled. “That’s how she knew right where I was! She could feel my feet moving closer or farther away!”

Kasmira’s mother laughed, “Pretty cool, huh?”

“Yeah. How come she can feel me, but I can’t feel her?”

“Well, two reasons. First, you probably could if you tried. Kasie has worked very hard to feel all the vibrations around her. When you are missing something, the body finds a way to compensate and enhance other senses. Second, she has learned to walk very quietly so that her vibrations don’t interfere with other vibrations.”

Michael nodded his head. “Huh.”

Within a few weeks, the two became good friends, spending time with each other any time they could. Kasmira was happy to have someone she could spend time with and Michael enjoyed learning sign language and getting to know her world. It was about this time that Kasie began speech lessons. She spent hours working with speech therapists and learning to make sounds with her vocal cords. Initially, her sounds did not sound like anything but noise to Michael. However, over time she learned to tighten her vocal cords and mimic the vibrations in her throat that she felt in other people’s throats. Michael helped Kasie by slowly, loudly saying words as she felt his neck, and then she would try to mimic his lips and his vibrations.

“Can’t she have her ears fixed?”  Michael asked her mother at one point.

“No, she was born with labyrinthine aplasia, a condition where she is missing her inner ear, the part that we hear sound with. Someday, perhaps they will find a way to help her hear. She does have the nerves there to hear, but she is lacking the inner ear to transmit the signals to that nerve.”

“Well, I think she’s the best friend I’ve ever had.” the boy stated.


It had been twenty-nine years since that day at Kasmira’s house when Michael had professed his friendship for the small girl that now lay here as a woman. And here he sat, staring at that same girl. Kasmira still had the long auburn hair clear down to her waist, though at the moment it was tied up in a bun. She was wearing a hospital gown and looked at her husband of ten years and their two children who were about the same age as she and Michael were when they met. Her best friend and fellow dancer, Carrie was also in the hospital room. Carrie looked Kasie in the eyes, “Everything will be fine. Don’t worry. They do these procedures all the time. And when you get out, you will finally be able to hear my voice.”

In her muddled, hollow-sounding voice, Kasie replied, “Thank you. I can’t wait to hear it.” she then looked at Michael. “I love you, sweetheart.” then to her children, “You are both my everything.” she smiled.

Both the children jumped up and gave her a hug, followed by Michael giving her a hug.

A nurse came in and spoke with the family and then wheeled Kasie’s bed out of the room toward the O.R..

Michael looked on as they wheeled her down the hall. He saw her hands come up above the bed and sign “I’ll be right back.”, an inside saying between them whenever they had to be away from each other. A tear rolled down his cheek and he hugged their children then slowly walked back to the waiting room with them.

Three hours later the doctor came into the waiting room, “Michael ?”

“Yes?” Michael got up as did the children and Carrie.

“I’m sorry, initially only the family is allowed in the recovery room, but you’ll be able to come shortly.” the doctor told Carrie. “Your wife is in recovery, I’m sure she’d enjoy seeing you when she wakes up. Follow me.”

As Kasie’s eyes opened slowly, she saw Michael and her daughter Elizabeth and her son Matt looking at her. She smiled and said “Hi.” in her muddled voice. She saw Michael’s lips say “Hello beautiful. How are the drugs?”

She laughed, “Very strong.”

The doctor walked over to them and look directly at Kasie so she could read his lips. “The surgery went very well. As I stated earlier, we’re going to wait until the incisions around the implant heal. We should be able to turn on the implants in about four weeks.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Kasie said.

The family spent another hour waiting for Kasie to come completely out of her stupor and then she was wheeled out to the car, still groggy. “Are mommy’s ears turned on?” Matt asked.

“No, not yet. Her implants need to heal first, then she will get to hear us.”

What felt like months, but in actuality was only three weeks, the whole family sat at the doctor’s office waiting for some news. The doctor finally walked back into the room. “Well Kasie, how would you like to hear today? The healing has gone very well and I think it’s safe to give it a try if you’re willing?”

Kasie eagerly nodded her head, nervous. The doctor showed her how to attach a long cable with a magnet on the end to the spot where her implant interfaced under the skin. Kasie felt a light tap as it magnetically attached. “Ok, let’s give this a try. I’m going to start very low and see if you can hear a beep.”

Kasie said nothing and just looked on anxiously as the doctor pressed a button on his keyboard. Kasie’s eyes grew wide as her brain processed something it had never experienced before. A low-tone beep. The doctor turned off the beep and pressed another button. He then looked at her children and Jack and nodded. Elizabeth said, “Mommy? Can you hear me?”

Kasie’s hand went to her mouth and she laughed and quickly the laugh became a cry. Tears rolled down her face. “Sweetie? You can hear us?” Michael asked, tears rolling down his own face. Kasie nodded hard and cried even more, then hugged him.

“Why is mommy crying?” Matt asked, “Does it hurt?”

“No sweetie, she’s just overwhelmed with happiness. She can finally hear us.”

Neck Surgery or Yoga & Physical Therapy… No Brainer

Neck Surgery or Yoga & Physical Therapy… No Brainer 4032 3024 Jason Stadtlander

It’s been two months since I got the news that I might need neck surgery and it’s been one month and thirteen days since I decided to opt for “Plan B” of yoga and physical therapy, a decision that I am glad I made every single day.

The Diagnosis

Not a lot of people are familiar with my full story, but for the last thirteen years I have had debilitating migraines. Sometimes as many as four to five a week. These have been the excruciating kind of migraines that have caused me to be nauseous and dizzy. Where every little bit of light or sound felt like someone was pounding my temples with a sledge hammer.

For a while, nearly every day I would come home and my five-year-old son would meet me at the door with one of my T-shirts in his hand asking if I would like to lay down so that he could put the shirt over my eyes. It was horrible, existing day in and day out like this. Unable to enjoy the simple things in life because of these migraines.

After trying every beta blocker and almost every pain killer out there, I tried to make an appointment with my doctor who as it turns out was not available. So I opted instead to see Justin, the nurse practitioner. I told Justin about my migraines and he looked at me with concern, then said: “Have you ever tried PT?”.

I squinted my eyes and asked, “Why would physical therapy help my migraines.”

He told me that I had a lot of tension in my neck and perhaps this was something they could help me with during PT. It had never even occurred to me or my doctor that physical therapy may have helped. So, I booked an appointment with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Sports Therapy and met with Kyle, a specialist in neck problems. Within one visit he had discovered the severe tension that I was experiencing at the C1-C4 vertebrae and had further shown me that I was capable of almost no movement in these vertebrae. So we began a regimen of traction and movement exercises. Within a month, my life was changed. I was coming home without a headache, much less a migraine. I was able to take my children places, spend time with my family and do it migraine free. I was shocked that four vertebrae could cause so many problems.

I continued PT for another three months and finally was able to sign off on it.

Fast forward five years to 2017 which my migraines began coming back again, mind you not with the frequency that they were back in 2012 when I had PT. So I once again sought the help of the physical therapists at MGH and this time Eli was assigned to me, to which I am extremely grateful. As before we worked with traction and movement exercises and it has helped immensely. Unfortunately, with the location of where the tightness occurs, I cannot always do these exercises myself so it is critical to have someone like Eli or Kyle to help with this. During one of our discussions, Eli recommended I see a neurologist due to other strange issues I’ve been having losing feeling on the right side of my face.

So – I was off to see Dr. Young at MGH in the neurology department who asked that I have a cervical MRI. I had had numerous MRIs of my head, but never a cervical one. My results came back and I was surprised that they actually found something. My C6 vertebrae had actually slid forward a little. It wasn’t a lot, but they found that it was putting pressure on my discs awkwardly and may possibly be putting a little pressure on my spinal cord. Dr. Young referred me to a neurosurgeon who looked over my MRI and told me “Well Jason, we have two options. You can either do surgery, which could fix your problem… or you could try physical therapy and yoga, which won’t fix your problem but it could give you enough flexibility that it will correct itself a little. The tension in your neck is basically because your muscles are trying to counteract the misalignment of the C6 vertebrae.”

The Decision

Lovin’ #yoga at @beaconhillyoga. #yogaeverydamnday #yogaeverywhere

A post shared by Jason Stadtlander (@jasonstadtlander) on

Obviously, I was already seeing Eli, so I told myself that I had to at least try yoga for a couple weeks and see if it even helped so I joined a Beacon Hill Yoga studio for a two-week trial. I didn’t immediately notice a difference with my neck, but I did almost immediately notice a difference in my body. After a few classes, I noticed how much more flexible I was feeling overall. I was sleeping better, I had more tone in my body and I felt more centered. I decided to continue the classes into a normal membership and I’ve been trying to balance my workouts with my yoga classes. I honestly had no idea what I was even missing until I began. I am now trying to attend 4-6 yoga and barre classes a week.

I still have a very long way to go, but I can honestly say that my newfound yoga is definitely helping in some ways. Only time will tell if it will keep me from having to have neck surgery, but that is my hope. On the other side of why I saw my neurologist, I am noticing a tiny bit of feeling coming back on the right side of my face. Perhaps that is from the yoga? Perhaps not. We shall see.

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