After weeks of follow-up tests, some of them involving electric shocks and a very nasty needle, results are in. My neurologist was searching for further clarification re the location of the stroke I had in February. Turns out, I had a brain stem stroke.
And I’m hugging myself in relief and wonderment now, utterly grateful to be in the state I’m in: very slowed down in most areas of my life, but still functional.
The brain stem connects the brain to everything else. A brain stem stroke can cause sudden death, or — perhaps more devastatingly — locked-in syndrome, the horrifying condition so vividly described by Jean-Dominique Bauby in his extraordinary memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Increasingly, I feel humbled and grateful to have been stopped in my tracks, slowed right down, but still able to write, and to hold a conversation. The dream of writing my own stroke memoir glimmers up ahead, my damaged brain not yet capable of helping it take shape and form.
As a writer, I feel compelled to share details of my recovery experience in the hope that they might help and comfort others going through similar experiences. There are already some wonderful books of this kind out there, notably Jill Bolte-Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight, but I’ve yet to find one that reports the early days, weeks and months of recovery in the detail I wish I’d had access to when I was travelling that shocked, bewildered, frightening period of my life.
Meanwhile, the haiku that give me such joy (and which might well make it into the memoir) continue to surface, documenting moments of delight and realisation as these slow months unfold.
brain stem stroke — death knell
or locked-in trigger — poor souls …
lucky me, just slowed