Tuesday, March 27, 2012
At least it’s always different with me. As a patient, I don’t feel stuck in a rut. I am, more accurately, an evolving set of problems. Like the last few buttery peas on your dinner plate, you want to spear them with your fork and be done with meal. But they slip to the side, scattering into different patterns. Every time you think you have things calculated correctly, something else happens. Life as a patient, every day a little different.
In the last day I have had two more of my “brain melts,” but they were, alas, different than before. Previously (this was over a week ago) they were episodes lasting about ten seconds where the left side of my brain would go numb and I could not hear out of my left ear. They came and went over the course of a few days, and they were basically gone by the time I saw my doctor on a Monday morning. No medications were added, and the explanation of migraines still makes the most sense to me.
But yesterday afternoon I had a single “brain melt” that lasted ten minutes. I can’t be sure of the length because I didn’t time it, but around noon my left ear began ringing loudly, then it went totally deaf, as if I were just smacked hard on that side. I felt dizzy, disoriented. MJ was out on a walk, and—for whatever reason—I turned to Noah and said, “Ruh-roh,” even though humor was far from anything on my mind.
I thought the event would be over a few seconds later (as before) but it kept going. I went onto the couch and put my feet up, waiting for it to pass. When it didn’t pass in the first minute, I seized the opportunity and ran through a mid-brain-melt checklist so I wouldn’t have to think backwards after it was over.
For at least five minutes and probably more, I asked myself, “Okay, wait. Is this really happening? Is half my brain and head numb? Yes, this is really happening. Can I hear out my left ear? No.” I snapped my fingers next to my left ear, then my right. No hearing on my left side. I wiggled my fingers, touching each one in both hands to my thumbs. I closed my eyes, stretched my arms out (while still lying down) and then touched my nose with my eyes closed. I missed and hit my eye, but I always miss. I opened my eyes and stared out the window into the bright sky. One eye closed, then the other. Both fine. I smiled, moved my tongue back and forth. Fine. I couldn’t think of much else to do (and I didn’t want to stand up) so I made up tongue-twisters, like “Rikki-Tikki ate a starchy quince schmaltz tart.” Everything was fine, yet the episode was definitely occurring. About ten minutes after it started, I felt my hearing come back and it was over. I stayed horizontal for another ten minutes, and by then MJ came back from her walk. I sat up carefully and felt fine after that.
The next few hours, my tingly scalp returned. It wasn’t as bad as before, however this morning (about eighteen hours later) it is closer to how it was two weeks ago: very sensitive and painful to the touch. Last night, at some point, I had another one of these brain melts. I was awake, staring at the stars out the window, thinking about words and music, music and words, and I heard the ring in my left ear, then the deafness once again, then the numbness. I was too tired to do much about it, so I just let it pass. If I had to guess, it was about the same length. Ten minutes or so.
Is there anything to do about this? I can’t think of a single thing. I live with a very rare condition (where most are a lot worse off than me) and all I can do is try to minimize stress, take notes, and get on with the non-patient side of my life. What else is there to do?