So it was six months ago today that a pleasant, high-spirited morning went blank on me.
As today is a significant milestone in my recovery, I thought I might revisit the events which have permanently changed my life.
I remember breakfast, cleaning out the wood burner ready for the evening, sweeping the wooden floors on all three stories of my small but perfectly formed house. I remember joking on the phone with friends, sending some emails, receiving some too.
The phone and email logs show a sudden inactivity at 10.43 in the morning.
My mobile phone then shows that I made a call at 4.20 in the afternoon.
It was a plea for help.
Dazed and in extreme pain I remember climbing the last flight of stairs and calling for assistance, saying that I didn’t know what had happened.
I lay on the bed dazed and confused. Assistance arrived and then a visiting GP. Then everything goes blank again. Momentary images of an ambulance and being wheeled into a hospital and then it is blank once more until I awoke with pipes coming out of every extremity and I am wearing a surgical gown.
Apparently during those unconscious hours I had had a brain haemorrhage and a particularly violent brain seizure which had had enough force to fracture my spine and tear most of my torso muscles. I must have been in a coma for nearly six hours, somewhere at home, before that nightmare journey up the stairs into my bedroom, which I still revisit, and a second lapse into unconsciousness.
This second attack was witnessed and I am told that I then had a major brain seizure, probably the second one that day, which the GP called a Grand Mal and which he timed as lasting six and a half minutes, about double the duration of what is seen as an extreme seizure.
I am pleased I cannot remember any of this because it was apparently an horrific scene looking like one of those medieval or Biblical descriptions of a Satanic possession.
When I came out of it,I have no memory of this, I resisted the help of two burly ambulance men who were trying to fit an oxygen mask. It was a surprising case of how my kung fu training had penetrated into my subconscious because I am told I used an upper crane block to ward off anyone who came near me.
Then it was the battle for survival.
For nearly three weeks I was in hospital, pumped full of anti-seizure drugs and pain-relieving morphine.
I remember the last half of my visit much more than the first which remains a dreamlike blur with only isolated incidents coming to the fore.
I remember waking in the night believing that I was in a computer game and that the nurse was an animated avatar, I asked her where I was and who I was.
In those early days, I lost words, couldn’t say them or remember them.
I missed Barack Obama’s election victory, something I had been awaiting with real excitement and I missed joining my local November 5th. parade in my role as Obi wan Kenobi.
My “normal” life isn’t much less bizarre than my hallucinations.
Well, so far, I have survived.
I am told I had a major left temporal lobe haermorrhage followed by two severe brain seizures and, that I was very lucky to have survived.
I was also told that my being left handed probably contributed to my recovery. The left temporal lobe usually houses those brain functions associated with speech, words and the understanding of words. As far as I can tell, my only observable brain damage is that I now have a minor stammer or form of speech hesitancy.
I was doubly lucky; to have survived and to have kept my marbles.
These last six months have been difficult, for sure, but much better than death and even better than some uncomprehending middle world somewhere in between that and life.
There was a lot of physical pain which is only now retreating. My back is clearly on the mend and all my muscle injuries except for one of my arms are now free from that excruciating pain of muscle tears.
I could have had more pain killers as I came home with a handsome supply of morphine and diazepam – trendy street drugs which I abandoned early on because I was growing much too fond of them.
I no longer feel dizzy all the time after I was diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. A condition caused when a blow to the head dislodges crystals of calcium carbonate in the inner ear. I wrote about my treatment at the Dizzy Treatment a few weeks ago. It was amazingly effective.
So here I am, six months later. I still have strange feelings in my brain, a bit of double vision, some shakiness which has recently meant that my fingers move as if I am playing the piano. Often I am overwhelmingly tired and I have lost over a stone in weight.
The good news is that I haven’t had another seizure, the drugs have controlled this, and I am alive. Yay!
It has been tough though getting here. So many things have been forbidden. Not just driving, drinking and any aerobic exercise but also my fractured spine has prevented me from doing most every day things, let alone going to my Kung Fu club.
Often I have felt a prisoner under sentence of death; a sentence that could have been carried out at any moment because, like that day six months ago, I have never known if another seizure would happen again without warning.
Friends and relations have been my salvation and a few unnamed ones have been more than that. They have stuck with me, talked me through this time, filled it with hope and restored my confidence. To those people, they know who they are, I owe an unrepayable debt.
Tomorrow I go to see my neurologist and next Friday I have another MRI brain scan which, I have been warned will be much longer than the previous ones, maybe up to one and a half hours in an enclosed coffin-like machine where my face is just inches away from the scanner and where headphones do very little to cut out the noise. That will, in the end, be the big test. My doctors hope that the blood will have dispersed and that they will finally be able to see what really happened to my brain six months ago.
It may mean that I will have to have brain surgery or it could show that I am healing naturally.
It may also conspire in the mystery. It is just possible that no one will know why, on the 30th. October 2008, life nearly stopped for me.
My neurologist described me as her miracle patient, now, as I wait to find out what the future will hold, I hope that that miracle was indeed that.
‘all but one of your arms…..’
how many do you have????
Thanks Bridge for the heart-warming hug and the grammar correction!
I have altered the test accordingly.
More than two arms would be very convenient though – just think of all that hugging. mmmmmm
I just found out that my aunt had brain haemorrhage this morning in India. I am in the U.S. and was looking for some information. This helped a lot with what to expect. Thank you soooo much.
Thank you for sending the comment Anonymous.
I am sorry to hear about your Aunt but delighted if I have helped you in any way.
This is one of the purposes of this blog to share my experience of this difficult condition with other people who may read it in just the way that you did.
I wish your Aunt a full recovery. Good luck.
I too had a brain haemorrhage on the 16th march 08. Like you I've been through much therapy to be well. please if you use facebook, search Katy gould, from the west midlands network. I'm the redhead!Pictured with my hubby.
Or read my blogs on my space. http://www.myspace.com/thewanderersduo I think one of those blogs was posted from my hospital bed. Can't remember now!!
would be nice to talk to you about a few things if ever you have the time.
kind regards, Katy xx
Hi Katy, I am pleased that you sound as if you are making a good recovery from this annoying condition.
It would be good to hear more about it. I will try to find you but it would also be interesting if you could post more on here. A number of people are following this blog and I am sure your thoughts would be helpful.
Speak soon, I hope.
Hi WolfieWolfgang…Thank you for sharing your story, it's always nice to meet others who "have been there".
Only if you've been there can you understand. I too am a survivor of SAH and lost my mum to SAH too.
If ever you or others want to chat feel free to make contact.
BIG hugs to all.
Thanks for those kind comments Nikki – it sounds like you have recovered from this condition, I hope so. I am sorry though to hear about your mother.
I guess us survivors do share a bond which others can't understand that is why I have been trying to report on my progress. Recently I logged a blog on my eight months assessment and I plan to carry on – well as long as I do!
A big hug to you too!