(No, not the Joseph Heller book, but you should read it)
You will notice, or perhaps not, that I have been away for a while. There is a reason for this. Two, actually. First is, I have finally received serious treatment for my Trigeminal Neuralgia and yes, it appears to have been successful. The treatment thus imposed is called a Micro Vascular Decompression, in which the skull is opened and padding is placed between the trigeminal nerve and nearby blood vessels which are annoying said nerve. This involves a complicated bit of surgery, which, as noted, was successful, and I have not had TN pain since November 10. Blessed relief!
What’s that? Side effects, did you say? Well, they are legion: stroke, seizures, venous sinus occlusion, swelling of the brain, and CSF leak…hearing loss, double vision, facial numbness or paralysis, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and unsteady gait.
So guess which one of these yours truly was afflicted with? Well, several, actually, but most of them were (or are) minor and endurable. The one that made the biggest impact though…
Let me describe what happened. I had the MVD on Monday, November 13. I spent a couple of days in neuro ICU at Vanderbilt, got transferred to a regular room for one night, and then home the next day. Silly me, I thought that was the end of it. I was out and about, walking, doing fine, even had much of my strength back. Things were looking good. I might even get to go back to work sooner than expected and spend the remainder of the holiday season pretty much as normal.
But of course it was not to be thus. Sunday afternoon I was sitting at home, enjoying the last night’s Predators game and occasionally checking up on the last NASCAR race of the year. It was a fairly quiet day and I was enjoying it. At a certain point I decided I would enjoy it more with a glass of milk, so I got up to head to the kitchen.
Or at least I tried. My body did not obey the commands my brain was sending.
Being the stubborn sort, I kept trying. Eventually I staggered to my feet and somehow made it part way across the room before collapsing on the sofa.
Shell came in a few minutes later and saw me on the sofa. She asked me something, I can’t remember what. Perhaps, how did you get over there? or maybe, what was that noise? I replied, I suppose, something unintelligible. I couldn’t speak. Or at least, not well enough to be understood. It felt like the right side of my mouth was melting.
Bless her heart, she reacted as a loving wife should. She hollered for our son, told him I was having a stroke, and insisted on carrying me to the nearest emergency room. A couple of hours later I was back at Vanderbilt, and a few days later I was back at home, not quite so cavalier about the time spent horizontal. Stroke is a nasty business, and I was informed by the folks there that this had been a near thing; the clot that had caused all the trouble was large enough and located in a tender enough location that it could have either killed me or rendered me helpless for the rest of my life.
So. Something happened, all right. Now then…what caused it?
Could be the MVD. Could be…except that the stroke happened on the other side. Hard to say. Could be that my persistent atrial fibrillation finally caused a clot that resulted in the stroke, as they are wont to do. Could just be fate. In any event, I am now on blood thinners which I will probably remain on the rest of my life.
Weeks later I am back at work. I am still very weak, all things considered. Back to zero on the personal odometer. I am having to rebuild myself, make myself better than I was before. Better…stronger…faster…or not. I’d settle for “capable”.
Anyway. That’s what happened. Back to your regularly scheduled real life…