A Look Back, pt. 1

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Welcome to a very special blog entry! According to the calendar, it’s been 1,363 days since I started this blog. Doing the math, 1+3+6+3=13. The thirteenth letter in the alphabet is M. M is the Roman numeral for 1,000; 1+0+0+0=1. One is the number associated with the first occurrence of something. Obviously, the universe wants me to revisit my first entries and write them in such a way that they aren’t so dull.
Listen, when I was first started on this “injourney” (for an explanation of this term, click HERE), I didn’t realize that my life would be so completely transformed; as such, I figured I’d just blog short updates with just the facts, Jack. Moreover, there weren’t Android tablets (boo Apple!) with slide keyboards, and typing was/is slow and frustrating. I have since discovered the convenience of Android tablets (boo Apple!) with slide keyboards, (this blog brought to you by Android tablets with slide keyboards: “Be a man, get an Android – be a mAndroid (if you’re a girl, be a womAndroid)”). I’ve since abandoned brevity and adopted a wordy, verbose style of writing. With that, I’m going to revisit the joyless entries from July of 2009 to March of 2010. I’m not going to rewrite them per se, but I will give a more thorough explanation of what was going on at the time. This also gives me a chance to really examine the progress that I’ve made.
Looking at my first entries, and being the overachiever that I am, I’m going to revisit July 1st AND July 2nd. I will chunk entries together for some brevity (but not much). I will start with these entries –
How it Began…
Hello Internet! In the manner of my father and so many before him, this blog was created to keep my circle of people informed about what’s going on in my head (literally).
It all started the week of May 17-23. I noticed a slight headache on Monday that persisted the whole week. On Thursday night the pain became excruciating. Friday, I still had the headache and started throwing up. I skipped work that day and went to my GP. The good doctor gave me shots for pain and nausea/vomiting, he told me to go to the ER and get a CT Scan if the headache didn’t go away by the next day to go get scanned. It didn’t. Jessica took me to the ER on Saturday and I got my head scanned. By this time, I was having a little trouble with anything fine-motor related, my left side was going numb and my right eye was drooping (in addition to the headache).
The ER
An abnormality was found on the scans at Wilson N. Jones in Sherman, as a result I was flown (that’s right, in a helicopter) to Zale Lipshy in Dallas. So my great adventure begins…at 1:00am on a Sunday morning.
The Diagnosis
The doctors at Zale told me I have a brain hemorrhage called a Cavernoma (more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavernoma). My stay at Zale lasted 4 days, after which I went home…at this time I was starting to have major balance problems and Jess and I picked up Strep Throat.
My family is no stranger to major illness – I’ve already mentioned my nephew with the congenital heart defect .Add to that my pa – he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March of 2004 – between the three of us, we’ve got the critical life systems covered: circulatory (pops), cardiovascular (nephew), and nervous (me). My nephew has already had two heart surgeries with a third scheduled in a few months – he will have had three open heart surgeries before turning four. There’s a blog about him on carepages.com – if you’re a registered user, search for “little brave heart”. I was turned on to blogging by my dad and his blog (found HERE). Especially noteworthy in his case is his shiny, chipper disposition despite three relapses. After the last relapse in early 2011, it was determined that my father’s immune system wasn’t cutting the cancerous mustard (canstard?). As such, the doctors destroyed his immune system to make way for a new one. He received a bone marrow transplant in late 2011, and has been cancer free ever since. That’s not to say that life has become a cake-walk (mmm…walk, err). Traces of his old immune system are still jabbing at his new immune system like so much over-the-hill boxer. While his new immune system is busy with his old immune system, Mr. Influenza sneaks in and squats. I could go on about the negative things that my father continues to go through, instead I’ll tell you about how he’s still laughing and carrying on. If I’m inspiring it’s only because he and my nephew have shown me what it means to inspire.

Concerning the portion of “How it Began” that deals with, uhh…how it began – the reason I remember the dates so well is because that Friday (May 22nd) was field trip day. Our academic team was going to the holocaust museum in Dallas. Listen, a field trip for a teacher is quiet dreadful; I wasn’t upset that I didn’t get to see the holocaust museum, but I was upset that I wouldn’t be there to help the other teachers – I got up that morning determined to go, but I started ralphing in the shower. I went to see my family doctor, threw up some more (I must’ve eaten a lot the night before). He asked me what I thought might be the problem; I ominously replied, “near as I can figure, I’ve had a stroke.” I laughed. He didn’t. The pain shot he gave me lasted about an hour. My headache persisted into the next day, so I went to the ER to get a CT scan.

After waiting in the ER for 57 hours (give or take), I got scanned. Next thing I know, I’m on a helicopter to a hospital in Dallas.
I was told I had had a hemorrhage due to something called a cavernoma in my brainstem. For a split second I thought, “brainstem? That part don’t do nothin but hold your brain in your head – I’ll be outta here in no time with nary a scratch.”
Listen, the brainstem is important for many reasons
1. It holds your brain in your head.
2. It controls autonomic functions, like breathing and heart rate (I’m no physician, but I understand that breathing and having a heart rate are good for staying alive)
3. The brainstem is a nexus (this blog brought to you by Android: “We are the brainstem of mobile devices.”) of the cerebral cortex, the cerebellum, and the spinal cord. Basically, it’s the crossroads of the entire nervous system. In my case, my hemorrhage was in the Pons, seen here –
Pons is Latin (I think) for “bridge” (side note – I fabricate word meanings/origins a lot, but this one is legit) because of its position between the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. Think of it like this – let’s pretend that the cerebral cortex is a donut factory, and the cerebellum is the dough supplier. The bridge on the road between the two got damaged from a flood, so now the dough supplier has to find a new way to get there, it takes longer, and the dough isn’t as fresh. Also, the donut factory will have to find new roads to deliver donuts to the rest of the body – the donuts get old and stale.
I need to stop talking about donuts, so…
ITEM! This past Saturday (the 23rd) was the annual Angioma Alliance 5k Fun Run. I was poised to run all 5,000 miles, but it was rained out :(. Oh well, next year I’ll run 10,000 miles to make up for it (I would walk (run) 5,000 miles and I would walk (run) 5,000 more, just to be the man to walk (run) 10,000 miles…). It’s always nice to be around “my people.” Often, I am reluctant to be social in large gatherings, thinking my voice and mannerisms are off-putting (mmm…pudding), calling for me to explain my situation. At gatherings like this, no explanation is needed. I also got to pick the brains (pun intended) of some fellow “head-cases” as I call them. Good times, submitted for the approval of the Angioma Alliance, I propose that the 2013 Fun Run be belatedly renamed the “Fun Rain.”

Speaking of rain, when water gets too cold it turns into ice. Ice is helpful for relieving headaches when packed in bags  (“ice pack”). With that…
…TBI is…Two Bound Ice Packs –

This picture was taken after my baclofen pump “installation.” You see, the pump is connected to a catheter leading to my spinal cord. The needle in my spinal cord caused a leak (cerebro-spinal fluid). Any change in pressure in your noodle results in headaches. I didn’t want to hold an “ice pack” on my head all day (“ain’t no one got time for that”), so I tethered them to my head.

I know I said that I’d write about the first two days worth of entries, but this entry is already entirely too long (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!). Therefore, I’ll continue reminiscing about my injourney (reminjourneying?) next time.

Speaking of next time, I’ve found that despite the meaning of “Mon” (see HERE for details), posting to my blog on Monday is not fitting into my schedule. Henceforth, I will post new entries on Tuesdays – which is Nigerian for “kinda like Monday”. With that, I’m finally done! see you in eight days!


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