Monday, 6 August 2012

Radio Silence

There's not much doing in my head these days. A cursory listen to the space between my temples shows something akin to a pub with no beer. Everyone has buggered off.
Whereas once it was a bustling, noisy place where a throng of voices clamoured for attention, now it seems to be deserted. I don't know where everyone went.
It used to be that an idea would spark a torrent of words, each one falling over itself in its rush to be expressed. One word led to another which led to another until ere long there was a number of paragraphs which somehow explained what had occurred to me and gave some release.
It's not that the words have gone. I can wield them as deflty as ever from the mace-blow of a blunt statement to the stilletto precision of a careful inference.
But the ideas seem to have departed. Things just don't pop into my head any more. Even writing this is like passing a kidney stone.

It could be that my brain is rewired after my haemorage. Indeed, given the area of my brain in question, this is quite likely. The pre-frontal cortex performs a lot of high level  executive functions and it may just be that the spontaneity of observation and reaction I relied upon, which  "just happened" just isn't working now.
I know some neurons, I don't know how many, will have died and with them some of the functions they performed. A loss of blood flow in the brain can do that, even a small interruption.
I know also that planning and attribution of significance to information is impaired. I confess, I don't feel as clever as I did before. Thinking is hard and makes me immediately fatigued. Perhaps all of this is implicated in the departure of the Muse from my life.

But I miss it painfully. I feel stupid, mentally clumsy, profoundly empty and somewhat lonely as a result of the loss of this drive to communicate. The long rambling email conversations I used to have with friends just dried up. The meandering discussions of abstract concepts, arcane but relevent to the experience of the human condition we all share just no longer happen. And I miss it all. Abjectly. I just find suddenly, I have very little to say. And I feel lesser.

Perhaps it will come back. I know the latest research on neurons seems to indicate that they do not regenerate. We do not make more of them as adults: Dead neurons are not replaced. However, there are an awful lot of them and those functions which were once performed by now defunct circuitry can be remodelled by the remaining adjacent neural machinery. This is "neural plasticity". To retrain the brain to do what it once did but is now reluctant to do takes application and persistence. I must do those things I want it to get better at. I must do them a lot. and the circuitry will gradually be built by that doing.
Whether this can return an ability that defined a character, I cannot say. Only time and experience will tell. But I am going to give it a bloody good try. And if it doesn't, then it doesn't and I will live with what I have available to me now. At least I still have my words.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Pete:
But in a sense the Muse is with you for this post is so beautifully written and is as structured as anyone could possibly hope for. As for the fatigue after all that you have been through, we are not in the least surprised. Give it time, and more time. All will be well, of that we are certain.

Librarian said...

This feeling of not having much to say is a recurring topic in your blog, therefore maybe it has less to do with the haemorrage and more with your mind simply taking a break from all the tumbling about of fascinating, interesting, and maybe sometimes rather wild thoughts and ideas in your head.
And just like Jane and Lance said, I, too, find your post is proof of that the Muse has not left you entirely.

PerlNumquist said...

No, what you couldn't see was the difficulty I had in writing that. The process was not the same. It all had to be squeezed out quite unwillingly whereas before it just flowed. The subjective experience of the processes behind writing and thinking are different from before. It's just different, that's all.

Kay G. said...

Even if it was difficult for you, maybe it is best that you write your posts and that will help your brain to recover.
Like exercise for the brain. Have you ever read that Roald Dahl is the one who devised the method for his wife, Patricia Neal, to recover from her brain injury? I call it a brain injury because I can't remember if she had a stroke or a brain tumor...and I can't look it up because my computer keeps going down...Anyway, look it up, it's interesting.
Take care and try not to stress out about it. Easy for me to say I know.

PerlNumquist said...

Kay, I looked it up. It sent me on an interesting journey across the internet which informed me more clearly about why I feel the effects i do, but also how it can be retrained. I feel very hopeful today. Thank you. Thank you all in fact.