Hearing pop songs through the prism of living with hemophilia

A husband and wife team up to develop a music playlist that speaks to them

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by Alliah Czarielle |

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The power of music cannot be underestimated. Its universality has the ability to connect people across places and cultures. Many people also find music healing. They can find solace in lyrics and melodies that evoke pleasant emotions or that mirror their emotional states.

Why does this happen? Music activates particular structures in the brain involved in thinking, sensation, movement, and emotion. This idea is a central principle of music therapy.

In one particular moment of music appreciation, my husband, Jared, and I came up with a list of songs that describe key events in his life journey. When seen through the prism of his hemophilia, these songs had meaning for us.

Here’s the playlist we’ve created.

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‘Show Me How to Live’ — Audioslave

“Nail in my head from my creator/ You gave me life, now show me how to live/ And in the after birth on the quiet earth/ Let the stains remind you/ You thought you made a man, you better think again/ Before my role defines you.”

Young people living with hemophilia and raw with emotion may feel the burden that comes with their illness. The song can be seen as their cry for their caregivers to guide them in managing the condition.

Some people with hemophilia, however, may be constricted by their carers. To them, this song may signify a request that caregivers treat them just like anyone else, instead of playing a role constructed of whatever anxiety they have about the disease.

‘Bleeding Love’ — Leona Lewis

“My heart’s crippled by the vein that I keep on closing/ You cut me open and I/ Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love.”

To us, this song describes Jared’s physical struggle with hemophilia. Injuries may bleed profusely or take a long time to heal. Beyond this, it also describes the mental struggle anyone may face with a bleed.

“And it’s draining all of me/ Though they find it hard to believe/ I’ll be wearing these scars for everyone to see.”

Bleeds chip away at a person’s store of energy. Most people associate hemophilia with cuts and bruises, but aren’t aware of the dangers of severe internal bleeding. Over time, these invisible bleeds can cause more visible impairments like arthritis or synovitis. Jared carries his own permanent marks from external bleeds in the form of keloid scars.

‘These Hard Times’ — Matchbox Twenty

“Say goodbye, these days are gone/ And we can’t keep holding on/ When all we need is some relief/ Through these hard times/ There’s something missing/ You’ll never feel it but you/ You’re gonna feel it when it’s gone.”

This song reminds us of the state of hemophilia care in the Philippines. Due to the low availability of clotting factor, infusions are typically performed on demand. When factor does arrive from humanitarian aid, people with hemophilia are quick to celebrate the happier days.

When the factor’s gone, however, the struggle begins again.

‘Bruises’ — Train

“These bruises make for better conversation/ Loses the vibe that separates.”

The song can radiate hope for people with or without hemophilia. Surprisingly, we’ve found that hemophilia and the bleeds that come with it can foster interesting conversations that break barriers between communities.

Hemophilia, bleeding, and bruises can undoubtedly lead to better, more interesting conversations. And the more we talk about it, the more we can raise awareness for this rare bleeding disorder.

‘Unwell’ — Matchbox Twenty

“But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell/ I know, right now you can’t tell/ But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see/ A different side of me.”

This song, to us, describes the psychological changes that people with hemophilia face when they’re in pain. Many people with hemophilia treat bleeds as passing events, so they appear to have a stable facade. But when bleeds get too much, the pain can elicit harsh emotional reactions. With luck, these reactions will be temporary.

‘Everybody Hurts’ — R.E.M.

“When your day is night alone (hold on, hold on)/ If you feel like letting go (hold on)/ If you think you’ve had too much/ Of this life, well hang on/ ‘Cause everybody hurts/ Take comfort in your friends/ Everybody hurts.”

This song hits home for us and all who realize that everyone has their own struggles and that they aren’t really alone. Often we’ve come across people with hemophilia who think they’ve had enough of their life and struggles. “Everybody Hurts” can be comforting to them.

To us, the song is always a good reminder that everyone’s a warrior in their own way. Their struggles may be in the form of hemophilia, depression, ADHD, or any other chronic or mental illness. Nonetheless, everybody hurts and cries sometimes — regardless of their health condition.

What are some other songs you’d recommend adding to the list? Please share in the comments below!

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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