Saturday, August 8, 2009

What Should I Name My Brain Sacs?

This is what happened to me about three weeks ago. I was hanging around, procrastinating about picking up the dishes from supper because I was really tired. I had slept only three hours the night before, and not at all the night before that. Anyway, as I picked up a plate, my right arm began to jerk as if I were throwing a Frisbee. The plate flew right out of my hand. My arm was jerking all by itself, out of my control. I told my husband that I was jerking. He told me to sit down, and so I did. That is the last thing I remember. My husband said that I tried to stand back up, and then I grabbed my head and screamed. Then I fell to the floor. My daughter came in from her room; she said that my eyes were rolled back in my head. My husband told her to call 911, so she did. I asked some questions later, like what were the dogs doing when this happened? What did the scream sound like? Bonnie said I sounded like the way people scream when they step on something. Wayne said he had to put Melvin in the bathroom, that both of the dogs were trying to see what was wrong.

The next thing I remember is that I woke up in the ambulance. One of my former students was in there. He said, “Do you remember me?” They always say that! I couldn’t think of his name, though. I said, “You had a brother…”(For 29 years I taught with a gentleman who taught social studies. He and I used to joke that we were afraid we’d wake up in the ambulance and find a former student who failed our class. I think this student passed, but I can’t swear to it.) I don’t remember much else about the ride. It’s so weird not to remember time that passed by.

Eventually, I became aware of being in the emergency room, and finally, that my family was there. Much later, my husband told me that a nurse asked him if I were his mother. That did not please me, needless to say. Then we began waiting and waiting. We got there about 11:00 P.M., and finally I was admitted at around 4 A.M. We finally got into a room at 6:00 A.M.

Wayne took the girls home so they could get some sleep. He came back later on with my younger daughter. Luckily, I made it into a room just in time for some bad hospital food (oatmeal without salt and then because my arm was still jerking a little, I spilled the sugar). Eggs without salt, yuck. I had a number of tests that day, including an EEG and an MRI. During the brain scan, a very nice girl who looked like the blonde on 90210 (Now, what was her name? Tori Spelling) was putting dabs of cold glop on my scalp so that the little sensors could be placed on it. I said, “Don’t I have a big head?” She said, “Well, no bigger than usual…” I said, “Well, I guess you’d be in a position to know.” After all, she apparently does brain scans for a living, right? I finally told her that it is kind of a family joke about my huge skull that few hats will fit. She didn’t know if I were being humorous or not, poor girl. After getting my head set up for the test, she went into the next room and told me through the window to be very still and quiet, lying there in the dark, so naturally I went to sleep. I woke up in a few minutes to hear “Tori Spelling” talking to another girl about what she was seeing on the screen about my brain. This is not a wise method, to talk about the patients within their hearing. One of them said, “Look what I’m seeing!” The other one said, “It’s just on one side!” The one who put the glop on my head said, “That’s epilepsy!” After some further discussion, they decided to call a particular doctor down there, who turned out to be a neurologist. The neurologist was aware that I was awake, but agreed that it looked like epilepsy.

Back in the room, I talked to some of my family on the phone. My mother was somewhat surprised to hear that I had developed epilepsy at the age of 52. Later that afternoon, the neurologist came to the room. He asked me if I knew who he was. I did, of course, having eavesdropped on his conversation that morning. He asked me if I had ever had a seizure before, several times in different ways. I never have. He seemed quite intrigued by all of this.

Finally, they let me go home the next morning, after giving me pills to prevent me from having any more seizures, telling me not to drive for six months, and referring me to a neurologist who doesn’t work in the hospital.
So, I called and made an appointment with this doctor for the following Tuesday.

After being driven to the doctor’s office by my husband, I went into the office. A young man who resembled Palmer, the guy who helps Ducky on NCIS, gave me an examination. I had to follow his finger with my eyes, walk a straight line, have my reflexes checked, etc. I never have had very good balance…Oh, well. I told him all about my hospital experience. Then his boss showed up, a doctor about 32, maybe. He said, “Hello!” So I had to go through the whole thing again. Finally, he said, “There is no doubt that you had a seizure. You have an abnormal brain.” (Allow me to insert here that most of my friends and family will not be surprised to hear this.) “Well, not an abnormal brain, but the fluid that surrounds your brain. You have some extra fluid that is pooling at your temporal lobes. This can cause a seizure. It might be triggered by being really tired. So what I want you to do is to take two of your pills in the morning and two at night, don’t climb on ladders, don’t take baths instead of showers, don’t drive for six months. No heavy lifting. I want to see you here again in about a month.”

As one of my friends says, “Stay off the roof!” I’m trying. People are beginning to ease up; they are no longer watching me to see if I’m going to do anything unusual or go off like a bomb. The pills make me a little groggy, but I already was half asleep normally, because of my insomnia. My mother says she can’t tell the difference.

Wow. Abnormal brain sacs. How weird is that? My older daughter who has a sicko sense of humor (inherited from heaven-only-knows where) says that I should name my brain sacs, giving them their own identities. I might. I am not happy about any of this, especially not being able to drive for six months. Thank God for the internet.

It’s really a good thing I’m not still trying to teach English!

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Daughter Diana at an Earlier Age

When my daughter Diana was in middle school, one of her teachers gave her a first-day writing assignment for her parents to do. The parent had to describe the child. That was all there was to it, and it was optional. I wrote something, and then our printer would not work. I think I emailed it to the teacher, but I am not sure. I can't imagine how many students told me over the years that their printers would not work. Anyway, my daughter is nearly 20 now, but this is how I described her when she was 13.

Diana at Thirteen

My daughter Diana is an interesting mixture of my characteristics, her father’s, and some of her very own. We are very proud of her.

When she was born thirteen years ago, her daddy called everybody we knew and some people with whom we were barely acquainted. When we went home from the hospital, I couldn’t find anyone he hadn’t already told. Diana was bald-headed, a good sleeper, and an early talker. Her first word was “baby,” and her favorite thing to do was chew on a Raggedy Ann doll’s black cloth feet. She has changed a whole lot since then. She has recently grown a great deal of long hair, she says many more words than “baby,” and I think her favorite things to do now are to draw cartoons, to talk on the phone, and to figure out ways to avoid her little sister. She gets the ability to draw from her daddy. Another favorite thing to do is to go fishing with him. Early in the spring she caught a 30-pound catfish, very ugly in its facial expression but impressive. Her daddy was not quite as excited as he was when Diana was born, but he came close.

I see some of my own characteristics in her. She is usually patient unless pushed too far, does not like to be yelled at by anyone, and observes the world quietly and thoughtfully. She likes to write and hates to see anyone hurt. She loves animals, particularly her dog Melvin (the rare beagle-chihuahua). She likes to read, just as I do, but there is a difference: while I feel lost without a novel somewhere in the house, she can go a while between books. We both love Harry Potter, so she reads the books first, and then I get them. The television program we both enjoy the most is The Gilmore Girls. I see in her the beginnings of that sarcastic sense of humor that gets me in trouble sometimes. Also, neither of us is too concerned about things like clothes and hair styles.

Belonging entirely to her are her sense of responsibility, her independence, and her dependability. Her good grades and academic awards have filled her father, her grandparents, and me with pride. I have never had to worry about whether or not she did her homework. Diana is much more mature than I was at age 13, and she has a greater strength of character. The opinions of others don’t matter much to her when she thinks she is right. While she might get annoyed with her little sister, and while she might be amused by my fear of mice and my forgetfulness, she can become fiercely protective of us when she thinks we need protecting. Her best characteristics are the ones she has grown into on her own.