Thursday, April 30, 2009

seeing my brain

I saw my brain the other day. I mean I saw a visualization (specifically a CT scan) of my brain. It was very cool, and also slightly frightening. My primary care physician, Dr. O'Dell, reviewed my recently taken CT scans with me. It seemed like the right thing to do to satisfy my inner-geek. I like seeing things to understand them better. I am a right-brain learner and always have been. I am a graphic designer after all. What I didn't fully realize is how much of my left-brain was damaged by my stroke. I have to admit I am impressed that I have made it as far as I have.  Who knew I was that determined? Stubborn? 

Let me explain it to you like this, when the neurologist told my loved ones to prepare for a "cataclysmic" outcome, he wasn't kidding. The only good thing was that I didn't listen. I NEVER have listened. Which did me no good at all with my colleagues (you know who are) and my husband and countless others...  But, I have to pat myself on the back, with my good hand of course, that relentless, dogged determination comes in handy sometime.

Monday, April 27, 2009


When my stroke first happened I quit dreaming, which I guess was a result of my brain being in turmoil. I didn't realize what a loss that was until a nice women named Ann, who was 7 years out of her recovery from a similar stroke, asked me whether I was dreaming yet. The answer at that point was no. It was a good 6 months in recovery when I had my first dream.  Now I am happy to report that I dream regularly... mostly pleasantly. I had a dream the other night that I was teaching again and I was trying to explain to my students to have patience with me, it would go slowly, I had trouble finding the right words, but I was an "expert" in visual communication ... I had the slides to prove it ... but, I realized what a long semester it was going to be.  Then I woke up. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

getting back my groove

I want to get my groove back! I want more than anything to be alert, and fully sensually aware. I feel the fog of Depacote descend on me. It has made me stupid... like instantly... like a blonde or a Minnesotan... not that there's anything wrong with that. But, honest to God I feel like "thick as a brick" when I am taking this stuff.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I had a seizure yesterday and ended up spending the night in the emergency room. That was the first one since I had the stroke. I was put back on Depokote and will have both an electocardiogram and a CAT scan today. I am sad that I have to take Depokote again. It makes me feel dull, thick,  and vague. I have been off it since November and felt great... like a human again. But I had a seizure again so not only can I not drive, I have to take this damn drug again. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

memory and attention

I have a pretty good memory. I can remember all of my life before my brain exploded. Which means I am fully aware of what I can no longer do. I do have a tendency since going through my stroke of "zoning out" sometimes when things go on around me. That doesn't bother me much, but I can tell it bothers the fast talkers in my life. It is not something I am fully aware of. It happens when I am trying to access language. It is still painfully hard to access language specifically word-finding. But, who needs words anyway? 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

visual problem solving

There are some things that I can do as well as before my brain had the big hiccup. I still have my sense of humor, and by all accounts - according to Dr. Halter - I still have excellent skills in "visual problem solving." That was the highlight of my recent conversation with her. I don't know what I can do with that skill because my speech still impedes me and my right arm is still not working, but it is good to know I am still "excellent" at something.  Today the fact that so much of ME is no longer "excellent" is bugging me. Like getting a bad grade, or failing an important test, I find the reality of failure excruciating. I am such a product of higher education! 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

my doctors

One of the advantages of meeting the many doctors trying to negotiate my care, they write up a lot of reports. I have reports from physical therapy telling me that I had plateaued, occupation therapy telling me that I have plateaued -- which is code for "they no longer can do anything more for me."  Speech therapy can't help access language any faster. I read voraciously, mostly about brain injuries and healing.  I'm trying to make a web site, I have a Facebook presence, I use Twitter, I use Skype to talk to my friends... I am beginning to feel like a geek again. I still get tired a lot. But, I am largely happy.  

So, I had a meeting with Dr. Halter who works with physical medicine and rehab. She coordinates all things connected with my brain and what I can do to optimize my life. Within the last few weeks I got various test from Dr. Dunaway, a neuropsychologist.  They tested the usual stuff - vocalulary, word finding, counting backwards from 100, puzzles of various kinds, etc. They tested memory - both long and short-term and attention span. My acuity at visual problem solving.

The good is I am doing well. The bad news is I have just about average "executive functioning skills." Meaning, in my case, I will never be a professor again. I knew that. So, that's not a shock. The only thing that bugs me is being called "average." I am not used to that - that is ego talking! And, I am sad because I would like to think that I am more evolved than that. 

in the meantime

I didn't mean to wait this long before updating my blog. Really. I'm delighted that I have readers that keep me on my feet. There's no excuse, really. I just did think. There seems to be a lot of that going around these days. What has happened since I last wrote? 

Natasha Richardson died from a freak brain injury. A friend was diagnosed with brain cancer. My friend Kay's boyfriend has something called "chronic ideopathic neuropathy" which is sapping his strength and he can barely walk. I am reminded once again how fragile this life really is.