I have an appointment tomorrow with my neurologist. The results from all the tests and scans will have been analysed and some conclusions will be drawn.
I thought it would be a good idea today to make a list showing how I feel.
Often you remember what you wanted to say after seeing a doctor so I try to type a list.
With the after-effects of my brain haemorrhage, I find it quite difficult saying exactly how I feel.
I cannot be sure what sensation is to do with that injury or what could be caused by something else, something more mundane.
How many pains do most of us feel at any one moment? Can we really say how we feel?
Well, to sum up first what happened.
On the 30th. Ocotber last year, I woke up feeling, here we go already, feeling cheerful, frisky even.
I made and received some phonecalls. I remember joking.
I had breakfast.
I built up the fire in the wood burner, ready to light later.
I swept the floors.
I wrote an email in a flippant jokey tone at 10.06 am.
I received an inconsequential email and opened it at 10.36 am.
Then, as Prince Hamlet said, the rest is silence.
In real terms, I read that email and then walked up a flight of stairs to my bedroom with extreme back pain. I made a mobile phone call for help. The time was 4.22 pm. Six hours in real time but a few seconds in my time.
Apparently I then had a brain seizure – obviously I remember nothing of this, but, apparently it lasted six and a half minutes, more than normal, and was particularly violent.
I remember, a brief image of being inside an ambulance and another flash memory of being in an accident and emergency unit.
I do not remember much more in the next twenty four or so hours.
How did I feel during that time? I have no idea.
When the gradual, highly drugged return to consciousness began, the world was a confusing place.
To my shame, I remember wondering if I was in a computer game. If life was a computer game.
I did ask a nurse where I was and, more frighteningly, who I was. I thought that she was a cartoon character.
I remember having triple vision – I also remember not knowing that that was abnormal.
And then, of course, I remember a lot of pain.
Morpine and diazepam were administered in generous proportions and I began to wonder, yet again, what I felt and who I was.
As I came back to full concsiousness, I began to realize what had happened to me.
I had had that brain haemorrhage, one brain seizure or probably two, I had been unconcious for a considerable length of time on my own in an empty house. During that time, I had fractured my spine, torn most of my torso muscles but gathered no external bruising except on both of my elbows. No one will ever know what happened in those six lost hours.
Nearly three weeks later, I left hospital and began the long, irritating, frustrating and boring convalescence that was essential if I was to make a full recovery.
Feeling dangerously drawn to morphine and diazepam, I decided to try and come off painkillers as soon as I could. I wanted to know how I really felt. My brain was only partly mine – morphine was co-owner of my thoughts.
Without the painkillers, I could tell that my body hurt – pretty well all over. I could not lie down or stand up without pain. It restricted my movements, slowed me down and dominated my thoughts.
How did I feel? Bloody awful.
Behind all that pain, I also realized that my brain was injured. An imagined iron guantlet had my skull in its grip. I felt a throbbing pain around my left temporal lobe, the site of the harmorrhage.
When I was worried or confused by something, or if I was trying to concentrate on any complex thought, I could feel that iron gauntlet tighten its grip.
During this period, I had two cold viruses – one of them a severe case of man flu – which led to a sinus infection, ear ache and a cruel cough which rattled by spine and torn stomach muscles.
Recently, I developed a gum infection which, as well as giving me the glamourous appearance of a hamster, hurt like hell.
New drugs then. Pencillin which failed to work on the infection and then another, tougher antibiotic which did but which also reacted with my anti-seizure pills.
Both of them played tricks on my brain. Dragging me down in an illogical depression, making me giddy as the blood drained from my head and then forcing me to sit down before I fainted.
So how did I feel?
Bloody awful, for sure, but what did I feel? That was much more difficult to answer.
I am now off all the drugs except my anti-seizure tablets. So how do I feel?
Let me think? Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am – as the Swiss philosopher said.
My pain is less.
My spine is healing and that sharp pain is now a dull one.
My torn muscles too are on the mend. Some sharp pains still but I now have much more physical flexibility.
My gum infection has nearly gone so I have just a dull ache in two teeth, my jaw and the side of my face.
My sinus infection is better too but I still have a blocked ear where the pain goes down to join the ache in my jaw and my ears are often ringing with a high pitched tone.
But my brain, my head, however you want to define it, how does that feel?
I do not know…not for sure.
I feel giddy most of the time with pressure around my skull. Thoughts still come with a physical kick and anxieties make me want to lower my head. I want to sleep a lot still and my eyes rebel against sudden movements.
Is it my brain that makes my limbs tremble? I do not know. Sometimes my hands shake so I cannot open the newspaper, sometimes my legs want to shake me into a crazy dance.
It is strange, more than physical , less than thought, difficult to define.
When, tomorrow, the neurologist asks me how I feel.
The truth is, I do not know. Glad to be alive. Better, I think.