I love movie scores. If you have never just sat and listened to the music behind Gladiator or Last of the Mohicans – whether you like the movie or not – you’re missing out. And we all recognize specific themes from cultural icons like Darth Vader’s in Star Wars. Most of your favorite movie characters have their own music, whether you realize it or not.
These carefully crafted pieces are meant to shepherd us through the movie, so that we experience it the way the director wants us to. Each note is meant to evoke and heighten what we feel – joy, anxiety, certain doom -- often communicating the feeling of the moment better than words.
Sometimes I think my life should have its own score. Each of us has a soundtrack of songs that we love, and that can change every day. But I am talking about pure instrumental, at least for one specific situation that happens three times a year. I am talking about getting my lab results, of course.
I thought I had left report cards behind with school, but every time I see certain providers, my labs (I’m looking at you A1c (diabetes) and eGFR (kidney disease.)) tell a story of how well I have managed my conditions over the last three months. Sort of. I have figured out over the years that the tests are weighted in favor of the last 2-4 weeks, which means I can goof off a bit and still do well if I shape up for finals.
I usually have a good idea of what I am going to hear, but no matter how good my blood sugars have been, I always feel nervous until I hear the numbers. Of course, I don’t have my own personal score, but there are a few pieces I hear in my head every time I go.
In the buildup getting my results, I feel a bit like Flight of the Bumblebee – manic with a hint of both fear and curiosity, with a significant chance of splatting myself on a brick wall (I am a bumblebee, after all). I know how closely I have been following “the rules” and I never know if I am going to “get caught.” As a practiced boundary pusher, you would think I could find some other boundary to push since the consequences of diabetes can be serious (heart disease, stroke, etc.). But the consequences are never immediate and avoiding the consequences for a few more months can be a heady experience.
If it’s good, or at least stable news, I am flooded with relief, and I feel like Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, better known as Ode to Joy. I can continue what I was doing, no changes necessary.
If it’s bad news, I feel like The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme), like a failure and certain doom is coming unless I do something to stop it. Then I need all the right radio songs to lighten the mood.
Last week was different. I had been shadowing Darth Vader for several months, and I expected more. But I finally got to hear some Beethoven instead when I discovered that I had regained over half the kidney function I had lost over the last couple of years. Do you have any idea the kind of cognitive dissonance combining those two pieces causes? It was a little disorienting. Hopefully, moving forward, I can ditch Vader completely. It would be really nice not to have that dramatically dark tune bouncing around in my head the next time I get medical results.