Yesterday was Saturday – yay! shout all the clubbers – but for me recently Saturday have been brain scan days – awwww! say all those clubbers. Well, the nice ones anyway.
I got a letter telling me where to go for my EEG – electroencephalogram – and, of all the checks, in it, they told me to arrive with clean hair and no gel.
Who do they think I am? I thought. Some old rocker coming out from under a motorbike?
I didn’t make a fight though. When you have had a brain haemorrhage you need all the help you can get.
So into the shower I went with one of those shampoos which the adverts tell us are good for us because we are worth it.
What do they mean by clean? I wondered as the lather went into my eyes.
Can I use a conditioner? What about a hair tonic?
Better not, I thought. Clean could mean product-free. I didn’t want to find my hair falling out, going up in flames, or curling into a tight perm just because something from the Laboratoire Garnier didn’t mix with electrodes.
So that was it, I just washed my hair and went – straight to my electroencaphalogram just as the doctors ordered.
Oddly, it being Saturday and me having to get my hair looking its best, I felt like I was really going out clubbing. I had a swagger in my walk as I entered the neurological hospital and headed for the EEG department.
There I was met by a friendly, shaven haired and very cool, black electroencaphalogramologist, if that is what he should be called, who was wearing particularly bouncy multi-coloured trainers. He too, I thought, was ready to go clubbing.
In a noisy club though, I suspect he just says he is a doctor.
He asked me to sit and, surprizingly, he made no comment on how amazingly clean my hair was, he just started measuring my skull before marking it up with a pen. He then began to apply generous quantities of gel before sticking about thirty electrodes all over my head and chest.
As he was doing this I thought I should try to sound intelligent as one of the uses of the EEG is to determine brain death. You can’t be too careful these days – you might find yourself being wheeled off to the mortuary without a by-your-leave.
So I asked him about the test. Apart from brain death, what is the main reason for me having an EEG? Questions like that.
Unsurprizingly, they were testing me, he told me, to see if I was likely to develop epilepsy after my haemorrhage as I had already had at least two brain seizures.
I thought I could increase my chances of not being considerd brain dead, if I mentioned scientific terms so I told him I had had a haemorrhage in my left temporal lobe and I could feel that he was clocking that I was probably alive.
He was pretty up-beat about my chances. He thought that the best outcome would be that the haemorrhage would heal and the seizures would not come back. He did not know of course and the test was going to be part of that investigation.
So I was told to lie on a bed and wires were attached to the electrodes. The electroencephalogramologist then sachayed behind a window into an impressive computer area which looked a bit like a dj’s desk, where my electrical currents, or brain waves, would be recorded as a series of wavy lines.
If nothing came out then I would be dead, if the alpha and beta waves were identical on both sides of the brain then I would be considered normal but if they were different it would show some possibility of seizures or epilepsy. It might be a little more complicated but that is the essence of the experiment. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was a mixing desk where he could have changed the levels and improved my dancing skills.
I assumed that I would be given a number of visual stimuli to test my cerebral reactions – things like photographs, pornography, naturally, sexy celebrities, Kylie, Britney and Madonna, for instance though maybe they could also be classified under pornography. For the brain dead tests, I thought they would show me photographs of great American heroes: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld or Sarah Palin. No perhaps not those three, maybe some others with more brain waves.
Sadly there were no photographs. I was told to lie quietly with my eyes either open or closed, to breath either quickly, deeply and slowly and then, probably because both of us where really thinking about going clubbing, he brought out some strobe lighting which increased in intensity whilst I had to either open or close my eyes again. No music though or the whole experience might have looked up.
The strobing did not feel good at all. It made my limbs shake and my head spin and I really wanted him to stop. Luckily, I had read somewhere, that electroencephalogramologists, were trained to deal with seizures if they occured during this test. Great, no problem then.
Luckily I didn’t have a seizure but I could feel how they could be caused by those lights.
At the end of the tests, he gave out a disconcertingly deep sigh which I tried not to interpret as I comment on my brain waves as he gently guided me back to the chair where he removed the electrodes whilst the room span for me. When he had removed them all, he offered me a pink comb and indicated a mirror on the wall.
Well, now all was clear. I looked a mess. My hair, which was remarkably clean and ungeled when I arrived now looked dirty and over-geled, just the look that the hospital’s letter had told me to avoid. I looked just like an E-dropping all-night clubber ready for his bed.
What difference would the comb make? None I reckoned so I vaguely dragged it through the gunge only making it look worse – standing up on end in thick lumps. I could have made it look like that at home in my own bathroom. I certainly didn’t need to come here to have someone do it for me.
Just maybe, though, the hair thing was a distraction. They really might find out, in a week or two, if I am an epileptic or not.
Outside, an hour after arriving, I felt giddy as I meandered uncertainly to a wall to sit on.
If this had been outside a nightclub instead of a respected neurological hospital, then the drugs squad would have set their sniffer dogs on me and told me to turn out my pockets.
But it was to be no clubbing tonight – I felt much too effected by those strobe lights to risk seeing them again. No, I would have to leave the dancing to my kindly and trendy electroencephalogramologist – I hope he had fun.