Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Brain Thang

I think I mentioned before that my former boss (about 15 months and 3 bosses ago, because that's how it is here) had a brain thang of her own - still has it, actually, it's not an aneurysm and it's treated differently. She sent me a link to a site that in turn led to other searches. There aren't many bloggers out there writing about this, which is odd considering that there are many thousands writing about medical matters, not to mention lecturing the internets on parenting, like, say, the benefits of breastfeeding until the week before the kid starts football practice - but not a whole lot of blogging about brain aneurysms.

One of the very few bloggers I found: This guy would scare the hell out of anybody with a loved one dealing with an aneurysm, let alone the patient. I do not for a second doubt that his experiences happened as described, but it's not presented as "what happened to me." It's presented as "what happens."

Everybody doesn't experience major deficits. Some do, of course, but other people are like me who get back to normal quickly, and are left with only the most minor and quirky little things, like occasionally not being able to finish a sentence because the next word (always a noun) just ain't there. It doesn't show in my writing, of course, or in a lot of normal conversations, but since I'm back at work and talking about more complex issues, I find it challenging - the faster I'm trying to think, the more likely words will get mixed up. And my close-up vision is really bad now, I need new glasses ASAP. I need the Ott Light to read and write as well as knit. My distance vision is fine, meaning, exactly as bad as it was Before. I do need more sleep, and I really feel it if I don't get it. None of this is a big deal and was probably on its way with my next few birthdays, the subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) just accelerated it. Of course, I'll really never know if these changes are due to the SAH or my impending 49th birthday, will I? I noticed some of these things happening before The Big Day, but never would have attributed it to something getting annoyed in my head. I thought I just got really tired after 3 p.m. and couldn't think anymore. Now I suspect that it was due to the conditions brewing. I am perkier and happier now, and I don't think it's entirely due to "Hey, I'm not dead!"

Nobody can predict what a SAH will do, even surgeons can just give a range of possible outcomes. On one end is Dead, on the other is Fine. Dr. SL was afraid I'd be left with impaired motor skills on my left side (the bleed was on the right) but I'm fine. When I first got out of bed in the hospital, it was my right leg that kept buckling under me. The brain is an eccentric thing, and there is no absolutely predictable response. It's not a broken leg. I do think it's helpful to read other patients' stories, but writing in terms of "YOU WILL..." experience this or that as if the same problems are predictable and inevitable is unnecessarily alarming. And if you read a few medical sites, hell, they don't even agree on the statistics. Somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of people with a SAH are dead before they get to the hospital. Somewhere between 25% and 50% of that group dies in the next 30 days. And a random percentage of those left will have a random assortment of recoveries. I know I'm on the freaky end of lucky, but I'm not alone there.

But reading about what happened to me has been educational, too. Like I identified the sound in my head.

When I first came home from the hospital, I would hear this weird sound - a cross between a soft tick and a steady drip - coming from inside my head. Especially as I was trying to fall asleep- dammit, there it was, ticka-ticka-ticka. All my tests were fine so I wasn't really worried about it, but I was worried that I'd have to live with it forever, and it was driving me nuts. It would start and stop at random times. A little reading led me to the answer - I was hearing my skull healing. No kidding - the bones make little sounds while they knit back together, and because it's happening in your head, vs., say, your ankle, some people can hear it. My incision ends behind my left ear. Craziest thing, but an actual medical site says it happens. Who knew? Maybe I'm easily amused, but that struck me as really cool. And my skull is healed and I don't hear that damn tick/drip sound anymore.


Janet said...

Wow, that is insanely cool! Hearing your bones knit. Whoa. But I'd be driven just as crazy ... :-)

Bess said...

so I'm just sitting hear reading about knitting bones and I'm suddenly swamped with relief that you are in that other 5-25% that didn't die.

I can just hear girlchild hissing at you "Dont you ever do that again!

Today's word verification is fewxqyz as in not very many exquiz Catherine's out there in this world. Take care of this one.

Catherine said...

It was most annoying, really, because it was a soft sound, just at the edge of perception, but when the room was quiet I'd hear it. it "sounded like" it came from different spots in my head at times, and all I could think was "Oh God, this is so annoying, is this permanent?" It's gone now, which helps me believe that it actually WAS my skull putting itself together.