Stranger than Fiction
My head causes me a lot of problems. It’s also perhaps my greatest asset. Living with it, managing it is almost a full time job. And one I choose to do by myself.
Yesterday all that was blown out of the water.
I was sent for an emergency CT scan. A sudden intense stiff neck, plus intense nausea and light sensitivity like a bolt from the blue on Sunday had gotten my doctor worried. As a sufferer of migraines, I know my migraines. This was not one. The nausea and extreme discomfort in my neck and base of my head got worse not better, and on day three I called the doctor. Expecting him to tell me there was a stiff neck bug doing the rounds, so go home.
Instead he said what with my history of migraines, the sudden onset, its location and the fact that I’ve had two plus this one in under a month – I needed to go straight to the emergency room in our regional hospital.
Suspected bleed on the brain.
He saw the shock in my face. ” I know it’s not what you were expecting, Lucy. But I am concerned, I need to rule it out.”
Life felt stranger than fiction.
Just that morning I had finished reading a book – Stir – about a food writer who suffered from exactly that.
The book I am editing, should have been editing yesterday, is a memoir about a mother diagnosed with a life-threatening illness out of the blue, considering the impact of it on her children.
Words, stories and real life were becoming a hazy blur of a reality which belonged to me.
My husband drove me to the hospital and dropped me off, taking the girls off with him.
Hospitals feel so alien to me, and put me on high alert. As a highly sensitive introvert, they are like living in your highest vulnerability the whole time: lack of control, bright lights, lots of noise, things that hurt, no privacy… Usually I am on the verge of a panic attack just walking in the doors.
The last time I was in the emergency room was after our daughter’s fall. Almost exactly three years ago. I stepped up to the counter and remembered her vomiting blood everywhere. The race to the trauma room. The kind, kind doctors who checked her so carefully, then let her sleep in my arms before they x-rayed her.
But I knew they wanted to do their best for me, to help figure out what was up. So I put my big girl pants on, and kept coming back to my breath.
It’s strange how a day that was supposed to be a morning’s quiet editing, followed by taking my kids into the library, turned into that.
I was so grateful they were taking it seriously. But also felt like a total fraud. Surely I wouldn’t be this “normal” if something THAT serious had happened.
Mr Dreaming Aloud and I both agree that “normal” is a relative term where I’m concerned. 😉
By 10 pm, after 6 hours there, on a trolley in the hall, scans and x-rays had come back clear. Bloods showing no sign of infection. Great blood pressure and oxygen. No idea what it was (although at that stage I had hot and cold pins and needles going up the back of my head and felt wiped out – classic end of migraine symptoms for me.)
But they didn’t feel clear. The only way to be sure it wasn’t a brain bleed was a lumber puncture.
They recommended it.
I asked questions. Lots of questions. Talked it through with Mr Dreaming Aloud, who had been with me the last couple of hours.
Weighing up a more serious bleed – if that’s what this had been – which could make you a vegetable, versus the probability that it wasn’t, and the more probable risks of a lumber puncture, when you’re tired, is hard. Especially when you have to sign the piece of paper which says, if I die it’s my own stupid fault for ignoring your advice.
My sense was it would cause more problems than it would solve. Knowing me.
So I signed, and we went home. It was late and we were tired. My own bed never felt so like home – soft, warm, dark, quiet and safe. I was very, very grateful that my normality was back – husband, kids, work. My reality. My treasured private universe.
Once again I had an education in how quickly everything can shift. It’s another lesson in never taking normal for granted.
Today I’m a bit in shock. If I saw you face to face it would be my biggest reality. And a fuss over nothing. But I wouldn’t want to talk about it. Which is why I am writing it – to process reality through words. It’s how I work.
Needless to say I’m even more committed to looking after myself. Loving… and caring for my brain and body better and better.
In the words of Dr Phil: Take care of yourselves… and each other.