December 13, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

If it wasn’t enough that my frequent headaches were a painful distraction, now they are reminders of my mortality.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Right now, that’s not feeling like the case.

On Saturday night, I briefly passed out after eating Indian food, after one beer, while deeply fatigued.  I left the restaurant at the point I felt like I might pass out.  I sat down on a chair on the sidewalk.  I woke up lying on the sidewalk, having just hit my head.  I then threw up.  Marcia was inside the restaurant taking care of the bill and had not seen me topple or hurl.

Twenty-four years ago, deeply fatigued, I had a glass of wine, Indian food, then passed out and threw up.  This time, remembering the circumstance and sequence, I got myself outside so I would not throw up in the restaurant.  Last time, by the time an ambulance arrived, I felt recovered.  An EEG a couple weeks later suggested no cerebral issues.

This time a passerby using a cell phone had an ambulance there in maybe two minutes and then ran into the restaurant to retrieve my wife.  I was still weak, pale and sweating, though totally cogent when the ambulance arrived.  The EMTs convinced me to go to the hospital.  I agreed, if they didn’t turn on the siren.  The head EMT said OK.  We proceeded to the hospital, siren blaring.

Because I hit my head when I passed out, hospital doctors insisted I have a test to determine that my brain had not been damaged, which would involve my being admitted to the hospital.  I said no and that I would like to go home.  I felt totally recovered.  The doctor said that if I went home now my insurance would not cover the ambulance ride or ER admission costs because I was leaving without the approval of the doctor.  The doctor told Marcia and me that if I wanted insurance to cover costs up until that point, I would have the scan.  I complied.

The first test came back indicating no brain damage.  They concluded this while I was still in the ER.  They thought the passing out might be heart related, so I was wheeled to the cardiac ward.

Around 10:00 p.m., a doctor came to my room with the news that there was something on the brain scan that did not belong, a small anomaly.  She said it looked like a small aneurysm, not necessarily life-threatening.  I was not comforted by how uncomfortable she looked and sounded while sharing the news.  More tests would be required.  The second in a succession of five tests over a period of 40 hours was administered that night.

It was time to accompany myself, deliberately staying away from talking myself into fear and dread.  Marcia was loving and present.  I sent her home to sleep.  I shifted to full-scale meditative mode, placing my full consciousness within the confines of my body.  Hour after hour, I just stayed with me.  Hospital noises and interruptions prevented me from sleeping.  I meditated, breathed and stayed in a relative present.  Still, I was scared, yet feeling loved.

The next day, a neurosurgeon came in to provide me a summary.  I had a 12 mm aneurysm in a complicated location.  It looked like it had been around for a while and was not imminently threatening, though intervention might be prudent.  He said intervention would have no long-term serious effects.  Untreated, there was maybe a 5% chance in any given year that it could rupture.  The neurosurgeon said his boss, the head neurosurgeon, would be in to see me later in the afternoon.

The head neurosurgeon, the fourth doctor to provide an evaluation of the tests, made one correction.  The head neurosurgeon estimated that there was perhaps a 20% chance that intervention would result in stroke and long-term negative effects.

I woke up in my own bed this morning with a headache.  When I have headaches, which is pretty often, about once a week, I dissociate.  I dissociate by working or by writing, like I am now.

If I’m feeling scared, dissociation encourages anxiety.  To allay anxiety, I go into my body, inhabit my body, associate, comfort myself by being with myself.  The pickle I’m in at this moment is that a headache reminds me of the aneurysm, which I reflexively want to respond to by being in my body, but being in my body makes me more in touch with the headache pain.

The doctors assure me that my headaches are unconnected to the aneurysm.  I’ll only get one aneurysm headache and it will be the worst headache I’ve ever had.  My normal headaches are just a reminder.  A reminder of my mortality.

I’m going to take some more Advil and soak in the tub.  I need to be with me right now, though I’m not real experienced at being with me, in pain.


This entry was posted on Saturday, December 13th, 2008 at 7:25 am and is filed under Auto-Biography. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. benny on March 12, 2009 11:25 pm

    I myself is very concern bout my brain but I am too scared to get a head scan but a few months ago I got into a fight and someone hit me in the head with a pipe ever since then I have felt the same my head aches often.and when I pound my head it hurts at the spot that I’ve been hit .it was becuase of that fight that caused all this I wishh I have never got into it I am very svared I have a child and I don’t want to leave her in this world with out a father…….

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