Monday, 12 November 2012

Revisiting Uncomfortable Places and a Resolution

I had intended specifically not to write about this, because it was something I didn't really want to remember. And I don't want to seem like I am going on about it. This is probably the last I shall say on the matter directly.

Last week, I went back, 32 weeks to the day, to where my sub-arachnoid haemorrhage happened. I decided to go to a dance at the venue where, eight months earlier, that horrible, sickening thing happened in my head and of which, mercifully, I remember very little.
I remember the song that was playing and the move I was attempting when, like a tube of toothpaste squeezed hard with the cap on, something burst into my head. Quite literally. And the yellow that flooded my vision, the whining noise like the noise from the test card, and the agonising explosion in my head that immediately ensued, it all came back to me, albeit in an attenuated way.
Initially, when I arrived, I couldn't walk into the room. I walked up to the door and it was as if there was a force-field off which I bounced, the way two strong magnets will repel each other in that weird way, authoritatively redirecting your hand along the lines of force.
Only it was my whole body that was redirected. To a chair in the foyer, where I sat and shook and probably looked utterly pathetic.

Some kind people who were there that night, came and sat with me and created an air of calm, for which I am grateful. So I determined to follow the comforting ritual of taking off my shoes and putting on my (new!) dance shoes. This seemed to allow me to roll along a well-worn path of familiarity and I managed to get the momentum up to carry me through the door and into the hall.
And, you know, I am quite astonished at the aversion I felt. Histrionics is something that normally seems incredibly irritating. But the strength of my feelings were quite overwhelming and very unexpected for a matter-of-fact chap like myself.
So, I danced, and being brain-stem stuff, the movement flowed and I felt at ease quite soon. However, I decided not to tempt fate and when "Moves like Jagger" came on, I sat down. No aversion per se, just prudence.

Well, here we are, eight months on, and more-or-less back to normal. Thinking is still a bit hard and I get distracted easily. This is frontal lobe stuff. Even now. But concentration has improved, possibly even to a better level than before, as I have had to consciously put in place strategies to cope. Attention is still a problem. Some voices will take hold of my attention for reasons I cannot fathom and will hold it against my will. Dragging it back to the task in hand can be hard or impossible and this makes me instantly confused and tired in a way I had not experienced before.

Sometimes, like when I was in the building society, trying to sort out some stuff for my mortgage, a (usually female - no idea why this is) voice will cut through my concentration like the sound of chalk scraping on a black board and it will be as if someone has hit me on the left hand (again, no idea why this should be) side of the head with a shovel and I will reel away in confusion. Certain "Teachery" voices do this repeatably. But I am getting better at "centering" myself and now don't have to go and have a lie down. Progress indeed!

And I confess, I don't feel as clever as before. Some raw mental horsepower seems missing. I cannot say whether this is because some circuits of my neural machinery suffered damage due to lack of blood flow or the interference from clots and "cellular debris" (as the neurologist delicately referred to the gumming up of the works caused by a bleed and subsequent healing). Or perhaps it is to do with my attitude: Where things seem tiresome, overly complicated or even merely irritating, I find I am unable to find the motivation to take it in. This is a problem at work where the majority of daily issues seem to fall into these categories. This also may be neural, or perhaps a new and semi-conscious indifference to minutiae. But I am working on this.

Writing, like this, also seems quite a challenge. Whereas it flowed before, now it feels "lumpy", like swallowing dry bread and trying to sing at the same time. Again, is this capability or motivation? I cannot say. I don't really know what to do about this.  need to think a bit more on it perhaps. Or maybe "just do it" (though often, I don't really feel like it)

But in general, reading how dreadfully affected so many SAH sufferers continue to be, even years later, I count myself lucky now to be as compos mentis as I am and fortunate at how physically well I have recovered. I was confused as to what to expect: It wasn't a big bleed by SAH standards and it could have been so much worse. Thank Nimodipine, I didn't get the spasms in my my blood vessels up there! That'll do for you, even with a lesser bleed, like mine!

But I am still surprised at the lingering effects now that the pain and tiredness has pretty much disappeared. Perhaps the remaining problems will mend, like the rest seem to have, or perhaps I will be like this forever. In which case, that's ok. I don't mind being a little bit less intelligent but a bit happier at being alive.

With my 32 week revisiting of the venue, I feel I have exorcised the final demon. The chapter is obviously not closed as I am still getting cognitive weirdness. But something has now resolved in me and I am calmer about everything.
So, with that experience laid to rest, I shall not mention it again. Case closed. Time to get on with working with what I find in my slightly rearranged brain. Let's see what it can do, shall we?