Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Transcient Global Amnesia

Thanks to lots of drug use, the experience of Transcient Global Amnesia was not at all disturbing. I had had a terrible cold and cough and after a coughing fit, I looked at the fish tank Jay had been fussing with for a week and said, ""Where did that come from" and "I think something is happening. I must be having a stroke" But I was perfectly calm in my disremembering. One of the symptoms of TGA is that you keep forgetting that you are forgetting.

According to Maya I kept saying, "I"m in such an altered state" in between asking the same questions over and over, like "Where are we going?" "What is the sequence of events?" I remembered the important things, Maya , Jay, Anya and EWan. Did not know I was building a house(Why would I do that?). Did not know Obama got elected. Said, "I think I like him though" and so forth. I remember little to nothing of all this while Maya takes me to Mt Auburn Hospital. By the time they had done EKG and stroke assessment and blood work and MRI to look for seizure activity, I was joking with the intern about how there was something to be said for not remembering, a certain carefree aspect to this life. And slowly the context of my life began to gather around me and after 5 or 6 hours of this, I was mostly normal. Harder for Maya who saw the "me" she knows as "mother" float off into never never land. I was quite unperturbed.

They ran every test they could think of. The second ekg showed a slight abnormality in the T wave and the blood work showed elevation of the heart stress enzyme. The echocardiogram was good; I could hear the sloshing of my blood through the valves sounding very much like my mother's old Maytag washing machine, reassuring and familiar. The caratoid arteries are clear. I don't have a brain tumor. They thought they saw pleural effusion in the echo so they did a lung xray. Negative. In the meantime I had been admitted to the hospital and had to spend the night, coughing and hacking all night, keeping my two roommates awake, one of whom the next morning got communion and anointing with oils from a priest. She was going into hospice.

Maya brought my laptop on which i investigated my situation as well as remembered the world with. The neurologist was duly impressed when he asked me question I couldn't answer(Did I make involuntary movements?), I aimed Maya to get answers to what I couldn't remember. It was a stormy raining day which I would have loved sitting by a window reading, but loved anyway from across the hall and also which, if I snuck into the room opposite, quietly to not disturb the two old men sleeping, I could see rain falling on the city and on the Charles River and feel connected to what I love--the world's weather and the earth.

But of course I didn't get off scott free. I wheedled and begged to get out for Thanksgiving, but they insisted I need a heart stress test because of the elevated heart enzyme and the slightly abnormal T wave, so I agreed to have the stress test on Monday and at some point am supposed to get an EEG but I'm putting that off. The stress test was totally normal; however, it did make me realize that I never huff and puff when I go for walks, I just stroll easily and so am not getting any cardiac exercise. After being told this was a very rare occurrence, I have received five or six emails telling me about a friend, an aunt, a sister who had this. I was getting more tests when they brought the interns in to interview me and thus missed my chance for 15 minutes of fame.

This TGA underlined the tenuous fabric of consciousness and the understanding that nothing lasts forever. It is another reminder of how it all slips away, either all at once or little by little-- that's the idea that gets us loving every moment.

I fly back to California today. Larry says Samson is the most wonderful dog in the world(we already knew that) and I look forward to getting home albeit with some trepidation as the alternator on the pelton wheel needs changing and the house will be cold and I will miss the kids immensely. But I know once I get settled, living life in the woods will come back to me and I will once more measure my life by the rhythms of light and dark, sun and moon, rain and shine.

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