About four months ago I'm straightening up around my apartment, which, if you knew me, you'd know is something that happens with the regularity of the proverbial blue moon. So, there I am, shoveling, uh, picking up around the place, and then—
I remember falling, in what seemed like slow motion; I remember lying on the floor unable to move, for what seemed like hours.
I remember being certain I was going to die.
I am somewhat pleased to report that as of this writing, I am not dead, and don't expect to be anytime soon.
Then again, I didn't expect to have a stroke that afternoon, either.
Some 20 years ago I had my first seizure, and I was told I have an AV malformation; an AV malformation is an arterio-venous malformnation, a tangled glut of arteries and veins with no capillaries in between. I was also told that since the AV malformation was located so near the optic nerve, surgery was out of the question.
The first neurosurgeon I went to after falling in my apartment that day looked at me as if I'd said pigs could fly when I told him that, then brought out a large, complicated illustration of the brain. Which didn't mean squat to me, except I gathered he was somewhat in disagreement with his colleague.
So that doctor sends me to another doctor, who thinks it prudent to run a test called an arteriogram. Having an arteriogram performed is a pleasant way to spend the day, provided you enjoy the prospect of having a sixteen gauge needle inserted in your groin muscle.
But this doctor isn't too worried about my little AV malformation problem, he says.
And then he gets the results of the arteriogram.
It seems there is an aneurysm associated with the AV malformation, which, since the last arteriogram was done, has grown from 3 mm to 6 mm. This, as the doctor tells me and which I suspected is, "not good."
Being a man of few words, the doctor hasn't told me much else, but he does say he wants to "consult" with some of his fellow neurosurgeons and neuro-radiologists. My next appointment, where I learn the outcome of this consultation, is still a few weeks away, plenty of time to scare myself silly by googling "aneurysm".
Which of course, I do, with all speed, and what I learn is this:
I do not want to be one of those people.
I do not want to be one of those people who refer to their aneurysm so often they've shortened it to "annie"; those people who join aneurysm support groups, who remain cheerful and upbeat, though their speech is now impaired and their left hand is withered; those people who speak bravely of their condition, but speak of little else.
I do not want to be one of those people for whom there is little else.
I do not want to be brave, I do not want to be admired for holding my half-shaved head up high.
I do not want to be one of those people. And I do not want to wait another two weeks before going back to the doctor with this thing growing in my brain, only to find out that like it or not, I am going to be one of those people.
In the meantime, I sit in my disaster of an apartment, unable to clean it properly. I get too dizzy standing for any length of time.
So I write. I write about the most ridiculous things...and the most awful people.
I write about things that ought to be and aren't.
I write as if any of it matters, and I carefully avoid writing about how scared shitless I am. I don't want to be one of those people either.
I just want my stupid little life back—where my apartment was a disaster because I hate housework, because I'm a slob who chooses to live in a pigsty, and not because my head hurts so much I can't move. Or I'm sick to my stomach and too weak.
I do not want to be one of these people.
(Update: There's good news and bad news, the bad news first: turns out there were actually three aneurysms associated with the AV Malformation. However, there is a procedure called "coiling", where platinum coils are deposited into an aneurysm, blocking the flow of blood. The good news is, two of the aneurysms have been successfully "coiled". I'll have another arteriogram to get through sometime soon, to check on the status of the "uncoiled" aneurysm. But so far, all seems well!)