Note: As of 12/16/10 I’ve had the hysterical diagnosis below, retracted to include only the fact that I do have a fat head, meaning, I’m just fine. But, to be dangled out there over the pit of mortality and to have your medical professional tell you what mine told me … well, read on if you’re curious.
The following took place in real time (with real needles) …
It was all in my head the doctor said, explaining what a thrombosis-AV-something-or-other was; and how I needed to pack a bag for at least a few days and then drive North into the blowing sleet of Montana until I reached the Billings Clinic emergency room.
I ran to the oven, turned off the heat and realized I’d not be eating my heart-healthy, boneless, skinless, flavorless chicken this evening. At least not before surgery.
Finally, I had an answer, albeit a shocking one. I can’t win the lotto but it would seem I was lucky enough to have a one-in-a-million type of brain fart.
The phone call seemed a solution to the mystery of the mind-numbing headaches, the lack of concentration, and the weird visual aberrations I’d been dealing with the past few months. It was as if I’d eaten funny mushrooms but only one part of my brain was invited to the party. This doctor had apparently figured out where the fun was being had.
“You’re certain what I have is life threatening, Doctor?” I asked, as an out-of-body experience seemed to take me over. It was as if I watched this person below systematically pack fresh underwear, unplug appliances, sort through toiletries, check emails, phone a few key people and breathe surprisingly calmly and evenly while I hovered above, all the while wondering what the hell this thing might look like pounding and screaming bloody obscenities inside this man’s brain.
It’s very rare Mr. Vaughan, but you’re going to be just fine … you just have to get as far away from Powell as possible and find a hospital that can fix you – in a big city somewhere. We can’t help you here and I suggest you leave NOW.
This kind and truly thoughtful doctor’s words began to run together and all I could hear were B-scripts for an 8th season of 24… Come on Jack! You have a time-bomb in your head and the terrorists tore the hands off the clock face … we can’t say when it’s set to go off … just leave and trust no one till we figure this out. Go Jack!
Thus began my very own thrill-filled, action poked-and-prodded 24 hour day. Actually, when the phone call came in, I was in about the fourth hour of my drama, before the ever unfolding plot had me hooked. I’d already been to the local jiffy-care lab, had blood drawn and its pressure tested; all the usual check up standards were met. So, it was just a few hours before this call, that the first brain scan was ordered. It could have been just another day, with another rote test that excited no one … but somewhere, while I was stewing wild grain rice and dressing for a much-needed 3 mile walk with my dear friend Morgan – all part of this commitment we’d just made to help each other stay active and healthy – there were doctors from Powell to Australia who were very excited about the photos taken just hours earlier.
The irony was I’d been re-watching past seasons of 24 on Netflix, and was into the 23rd hour of the second season when the four o-clock phone call came in. The show I’d been absorbed in for the past two weeks online—all the hour-to-hour drama, not knowing where the danger would come from next, how the hero would make it through the day of terror—was now upstaged by this little drama of mine…my own 24 hours.
Morgan picked me up and we set out on snowy black roads for the two-hour drive to Billings, with hopes of not meeting any animals on the highway. I was more fearful of hitting a deer in a snow flurry than going under for surgery. That’s assuming I’d be knocked out and the all-night procedure would merely feel like a blip of time before I’d be back to feeling invincible again.
But of course, fear is fueled by the unknown.
What we don’t know is what usually hurts us the most. Having the doc tell me I might die was at least keeping me in the moment. It was more comforting than wondering whether or not I’d be awake during surgery hours from now, not knowing if my skull would be removed like the cap on a pumpkin while masked men with melon-ballers peered down at me as I lay fully awake and frozen in my nightmarish restraints.
Morgan, was quick to remind me not to go there in my mind; filling in blanks. Time would soon scribe the lines of this fast paced script I was suddenly starring in.
Somewhere along the line growing up, I developed some key survival instruction: never fuck with the person making your sandwich, or handling your colonoscopy. So I’m not about to denigrate the medical care (needles or not) which I have received. I’m blessed to have insurance and people who do care for me, worrying this minute, as I type these words.
I’m amazed that there are people out there willing to care for others as their profession. My own bodily fluids make me ill, let alone dealing with a stranger’s … bless those that have a heart and, hopefully, a fully powered brain for this sort of work.
And I understand it truly is a practice-makes-perfect process. I simply hope my head is not the first these folk are taking a crack at trying to fix.
There are two teams of experts with two opinions and thus, I’m left with a divided consensus. I either have a deadly clot in my head, or a very well hung vein in my brain which just needs to relax a little. Makes me want to Google the origin’s of the term, bonehead to see if I might find an answer there somewhere, possibly on the 59th search page …
What I do know, is that I continue to see ghostly aberrations in my periphery and at times, it feels as if John Bonham is drumming a haunted version of Black Dog somewhere behind my eyes.
In a few hours, I hope to have a third opinion. Until then, the clock is ticking, the hands still missing from its dial, keeping me somewhat in the dark, every moment of every day since last Friday.
I’m finding that despite what a closet theater-major I am, I don’t care for drama … at least not the type that spreads the crazy around to others. So, I’m keeping my wits about me despite the obvious tendencies to go nuts pondering the worst. Thinking too hard will kill me. But knowing I have a wealth of people who love me, and want me to continue getting older and more grey, is a real comfort.
Call what’s going on upstairs what you will doctor, but giving up, is the only thing that will never enter my mind, not this day.