Blogs by anne cunningham
11/18/2003 5:08:13 AM
...surrender the pink.
i want to thank my brain for remembering me ... "the effort to get a couple of sentences into the hand could take hours and hours. I had these streaks of thought, notions, the start of an idea of something to write. I looked for the dust in the air, for that is where words live, tumbling lazily, remaining just out of reach and staying, staying, staying, until something, an unseen waft of air, causes them to drift right up to your reach, gather into sentences, one sentence, two sentences, that's all you need to get started. But now, in this hospital room, my eyes could find only dust." (from the book, duly mentioned, by the author (Jimmy Breslin) after brain surgery for an aneurysm.
-whenever my brain f***s up, mini-strokes, or whatever the heck, i make lists. mostly because when my vision goes bad or my hand goes numb, i launch into an immediate state of denial, my already squishy head screaming, "not again, no it's nothing; i'm sure i'm fine." instead of calling the doctor, or even telling a person at my side, i do mini mental status exams on myself instead ... can i see out of both eyes?!?!?, is my vision screwed on just the left, or is it the right too?!?!? is my tongue really numb on the left and my face frozen or am i freaking out??!?!? maybe my hand is just asleep. what day is it? who am i? who is the vice president?
with my good hand i try to write sentences to see if i have problems word-finding. yesterday i wrote, this, among other things:
this pen is blue.
this paper is white.
i'm pretty sure i'm okay.
i hate when this happens.
so far i haven't had any problems except for my eyes which stopped,
i think, or maybe has started again.
maybe i am just getting a headache.
my left hand feels funny.
i don't need this right now or ever again ....
scrawled down the middle of a loose-leaf page, it looked like poetry, but its not.
there is a set of words on both sides of my medical i.d. medallion, perfectly centered both sides, some words in red, others not. it looks like poetry, but it is not.
i had no trouble finding words yesterday and spoke out loud as i wrote, alone in the house, unwilling to call my physician and "bother" her on a busy monday with my current infractions which i hoped were not infarctions, but i seemed to be having no trouble findings words. i did not call a "headache" a "watermelon." i could name objects and colors. i used contractions and proper punctuation. when i spoke the words as i wrote them, they came out as i said, and it all made sense.
then i called my mother and said, "talk to me for 20 minutes. this started at 12:30. i think i'm okay." she is in virginia. i pictured the whole scene as it would later be played out on some "miracle" talk show segment where my mother explains my dropping the phone after speaking some kind of gibberish, and she had to call 9-1-1 from several states away.
mostly we talked about everyone's current dysfunction and disruptions to keep my mind off my own ... my uncle's upcoming surgery for a pituitary tumor made my immediate head funk seem like a hangnail in comparison, my elder brother's pending separation and possible divorce tweaked my sympathetic/empathic nerve pathways, but also reminded me that i am far and beyond certain kinds of emotional pain myself, having already given up and gotten through, well on the road to recovery!?!?!? or to more forks in the road, whatever the case may be. i wished that for him too.
earlier this summer, i had a similar "episode" on the way out to go fishing and told my loving companion, "maybe i should head back home or go to the doctor," and yet the entire way i did the mini mental status exams, thinking if i felt "okay" we could go back to the trail, hike our buns loose and park them at the river bend to fish until midnight. while he was in the quick mart getting more gas, so we could head home, i wrote on a scrap of paper, "pul is in the store. he is (couldn't remember the word "buying") gas."
that time, my arm and leg went numb and my tongue and i got a CAT scan out of the deal and my arsh-end put back on plavix for two weeks, deemed a "failure on aspirin!" geez! i'm sure i missed the channel cat of a lifetime because the fishing trip had to be aborted. by the time i was done in the emergency room, it was bedtime, long past the catfish biting bewitching hour of 9pm.
my first "episode" occurred when i was nearly 18. that time i passed a note to a friend in study hall telling her i didn't feel well and that my vision was f'd. she passed the note back, written in all squiggly letters, "are you okay?" that made me laugh, but didn't stop me from making a reference to mickey mouse, but writing "milky mouse," and then later in the same note saying, "not to mental the fact ..." instead of "not to mention the fact ...."
that one got me a trip to the ER, an EEG and much to worry about nothing. for years whenever i felt crappy, i'd say "milky mouse" and it would scare the shit out of everyone!
another time i "stroked out" in the mega mall in Bloomington, MN (1993, approximately 6 months after the birth of my last child and just slightly three months after a closed head injury).
april 2002, transiently, ischemically ... it "attacked," as i left the house without my shoes (on my way to the gym!), stopped my car in traffic in a town i've lived in for almost ten years and couldn't remember where i was. the last coherent thing i said was, "i feel funny," to the ER nurses. the most ridiculous thing i said was "pink!" it seemed i had said it for no apparent reason. this was after they had taken my clothes, tried to glean my medical history from my daughter and my incoherent self, took off all my bracelets and removed my medicine bag. this was after the "rectal exam," (just a precaution to rule out any bleeding. yikes!) before they gave me some clot-busting stroke medicine that is so expensive every insurance company does an automatic "audit" if you are given this IV push.
i said "pink" because the blanket on the transport cart they were loading me on for the helicopter flight to the metro-med center was "pink." i stared at it for as long as i could until i could make that word come out, instead of "whale bones" or "night stand" or some other approximation that would scare my daughter or make the doctors think i had crashed for good.
when i said "pink" for no apparent reason, it didn't calm anyone's nerves. by then the 'copter was waiting, my lips were bleeding from the life-saving IV push and my daughter's eyes were as big as saucers. at that moment, she looked more neurologically impaired than i felt, but she could still talk and had feeling on both sides of her body. i, on the other hand ... or on the left hand and leg ... did not!
this screen is white.
the type is black.
i'm pretty sure i'm okay.
i hate when this happens ....
this is why ...
I MAKE LISTS!
(and when i say "pink" my daughters hug me and/or punch me really hard in the arm!)
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