December 21, 2006

 constant low-grade headaches for about a week

when ray and i were in washington dc in november, we saw a lovely young couple having their christmas photo taken on the lawn in front of the us capitol building. the guy was holding the word "peace", his girlfriend was holding the word "earth", and their dog, who sat between them, was wearing the word "on" around his neck like a collar. a friend of theirs was taking their photo.

we loved this sight, and *we* took a photo of *them* being photographed, and laughingly told the couple that we'd use *our* photo of them as *our own* christmas card. of course, what with TIAs and all we never got around to it, but the photo is below.

happy holidays, everyone. peace on earth.

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December 14, 2006

 tim johnson

tim.johnson.jpghave you seen the news about south dakota senator tim johnson? yesterday he suffered something akin to a stroke. amazingly, the news channels are airing audio of the conference call he was on when it happened.

ray was watching CNN, and i was sort of ingesting the story as i was doing something else. the tv was basically background noise until i heard that conference call; i stopped everything. i heard the senator stutter, search for words, say something about "frustrating", and i *felt* his situation. i was right there with him. tears came to my eyes and i experienced the deepest sympathy for this man. clearly, he suffered something more severe than i did, but hearing his aphasia brought my experience rushing back to me.


you can see a 4 minute CNN video here, with audio of the conference call and a doctor's explanation of the AVM that caused him to be rushed into surgery.

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December 13, 2006

 no more headaches, though...

snake_mirror.JPGi've been so busy i barely register the days that are passing. getting ready for christmas is the biggest stressor right now. the last few years i've been making a lot of gifts, trying out new crafts each time. this year's craft is taking longer than i would have thought and is causing me a little consternation.

there's also christmas concerts to play in, secret shopping to do (i've tried to cut way back this month to allow time for crafting, but it's hard to turn down free money, you know?), car inspections and holiday parties, and well... i just feel pretty crazed right now. we leave for florida in a little over a week, though, so i can see the light at the end of the tunnel. that will be a relaxing trip.

but until then: "eek!"

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December 7, 2006

 TIA or migraine? only god knows.

queens_hammer.jpgi had my appointment with the neurologist this morning.

he had me recount the whole episode, and then he did an abbreviated series of reflex tests (banging on my knees and elbows with that odd-looking device at right, known as a "queen's square hammer"), took my pulse and listened to my carotid arteries. he confirmed that i was overall very healthy (reiterating that my MRI, MRA and ECG all looked normal) and that i wasn't at risk for stroke.

what was also interesting was that he indicated that i wasn't really at risk for migraines, either. he said a woman my age just doesn't start having severe migraines out of the blue... that someone who experienced a migraine so severe that it caused speech loss would likely have had a long history of headaches, beginning perhaps as early as high school.

i told him i remembered having a series of severe headaches in the spring of 2005, but even that wasn't enough to convince him that what i'd suffered in november was a migraine. he said migraines can indeed cause a lot of the symptoms i had (aphasia, light sensitivity, a sense of disconnecteness), but to suffer a migraine this severe -out of the blue- was pretty weird.

actually, he probably didn't say "pretty weird." he was much more professional than that.

if i had a TIA, though, he said it's very odd that i didn't also have any associated facial numbness or tingling, since that's all pretty connected in the brain. to have speech difficulty without facial numbness is out of the ordinary.

he also said that i'd experienced many triggers for migraine that night... i'd been traveling and may have been dehydrated, i didn't have any dinner, and i was listening to loud music ("classical music," he said, "can still probably get pretty loud, right?"). but then he followed that up by saying, "i'm guessing, though, that you've skipped dinner then seen a concert before, and nothing like this had happened."

and he's right about that.

i mentioned that i'd had some chocolate at intermission, and he practically interrupted me, saying that there had been extensive research into this area and that he can definitively say that chocolate does not cause migraines. he said in the clinical trials patients were given chocolate and others were given something that simply tasted like chocolate, and the incidence of migraine was the same in both groups.

so YAY for chocolate!

bascially he was stating cases for and against the likelihood that the episode in november was caused by either TIA or migraine. "here's an argument why it was migraine... here's an argument why it wasn't. here's an argument for TIA, here's an argument against." in the end, he told me that because i don't exhibit any risk factors for TIA *or* migraine, the safer course of action was to assume that i had suffered a TIA. and in assuming that, we have to also assume that the cause was VERY atypical since all of the standard tests have so far come back normal. we'd have to really dig for a cause.

he therefore ordered another series of blood tests ("to rule out any coagulopathy") and scheduled a follow-up appointment for six weeks.

i liked this doctor. i appreciated that he's taking the more challenging route (TIA) rather than just falling back on a diagnosis of "atypical migraine" and letting it go. i still feel like there's a damn good chance that we'll never know exactly what happened, but at least we're looking at every possible option.

what i DIDN'T like was the guy who drew my blood. i walked into the lab and he was watching something on google video. i made the mistake of asking what it was, and he said that he and his wife were considering opting their children out of the teaching of evolution at school. "evolution is just a lie, you know." i almost laughed in his face, but then realized that he had a sharp needle in his hand. he went on to tell me that in school they teach children that humans evolved from rocks. "and that's just crazy!" he said. "if we evolved from rocks, that took millions of years. and that was just *man*! women have different organs, and that would have taken another million years of evolution!" he said the man in the video he was watching was the expert in this controversy over whether children should be taught evolution in the schools. i was stunned that he would be allowed to watch that (at such a loud volume) in such a public area of his workplace.

so i just shut my mouth, and as the rubber band around my bicep was starting to feel more and more constrictive i silently willed him to stop talking and draw my blood already. finally, during a pause in his tirade, i said, "this is starting to feel uncomfortable..." he said one more thing about how it would make his children 'school outcasts' if they had to leave the room each time a teacher brought up evolution, then he finally jabbed me with the needle.

that whole thing was really weird.

Posted by xta at 11:05 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 1, 2006


hello! (hello... hello... hello... hello...)

that's the sound of an echo.

an echo*cardiogram*.

ha! so funny!

i had my echocardiogram this morning and it was pretty uneventful. i was in & outta there in about 20 minutes. (i was told it might take an hour.)

the standard ultrasound was performed on my heart, but they added a procedure called a "microcavitation study." (microcavitation literally means "the creation of temporary small bubbles by a moving source.") my doctor ordered this extra study in order to help determine whether there's a hole between the left & right sides of my heart, which would be, apparently, the only way my heart could 'throw clots' to my brain. after the standard ultrasound (cold jelly!) a nurse inserted an IV into my arm and then injected saline. the ultrasound technician then watched on her screen to see if she could see the saline move abnormally between the left & right chambers.

of course, she told me that she's just there to take the pictures and wasn't able to give a diagnosis. i'll have to wait for my doctor to call me with that news.

she did say, though, that my heart takes really good pictures ("cheese!"), which is part of the reason why the procedure went so quickly.

next up: my neurologist appointment on thursday, 12/7.

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