a day in the life: ms patient, anatomy teacher.


Just a few days ago, I was giving one of my anatomy lectures about the brain. Now and then, I’ll be in the middle of lecture prep, and even when I’m in the middle of a topic I’ve read about a dozen times, a “new discovery” about myself hits me.

And, recently, it did.

You see, there’s this structure in the lower (inferior) part of our brain, called the thalamus. One of the things it does is to act as a filter for incoming sensory information, so that the decision-making part of our brain isn’t constantly barraged with otherwise-useless information. If this filter didn’t exist, our cerebrum would be constantly advised of “I’m wearing clothes! I’m wearing clothes!” over and over, from the mere sensation of the clothes on our skin. Instead, this information gets filtered out by the thalamus until something changes (say, our shirt falls off… ??? accidentally??? But I digress. You get the point. In that situation, your brain would want to receive a signal that something changed!).

Some of the sensory information that gets filtered out is the “background noise” if you’re having a conversation with someone, so that you can focus on the person that you’re one-on-one with. I’ve noticed, in the past few years, that no matter how intent I am with someone in conversation, sometimes background noise can distract me, and I have to ask them to repeat themselves for my poor, addled brain. Yes, it appears rude; but that’s the nature of my brain some days. And I started wondering: is this due to an MS lesion in my thalamus? I know that I have damage all through my cerebrum, cerebellum, and other inferior structures; but I’d never thought of this manifestation of MS damage.

Interesting. Nothing to really be upset about, because this is who I am, this is how I am. I have to redouble my focus efforts (more yoga and meditation?) and, even if MS isn’t the cause of this issue, being more intent on a personal conversation isn’t a bad thing to focus on. 🙂

Just a day in the life. Always learning… and always aiming to improve.

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