Dear readership, friends, enemies, frenemies, etc. You know who you are.
I am freshly returned to my dwelling upon this mountain, after a stay in hospital caused by a stroke.
People stroke cats, dogs, soft fabrics, pillows, etc. That used to be my primary meaning for that word. It’s now been replaced by the medical term, which is ascribed to a catastrophic brain injury, when the blood supply t0 some part of the brain is restricted by a haemorrhage or blood clot.
The results vary according to which portions of the brain are effected and for how long. I may or may not describe the actual experiences, in due course. At this stage I am still discovering the results of the events as I learn to cope. I gather that I am still in the early stages of recovery, so it is uncertain what lies ahead.
What I can say, at this point, is that it continues to be a very interesting experience to observe. I have been brought home by the good people who run the medical services, and am assessing my new circumstances here. I actually had a very interesting and enjoyable time in the hospital. There was such an abundance of beautiful and entertaining women surrounding me that I never even managed to learn all their names. I have no complaints at all. 🙂
There are two outstanding physical effects. My right leg, waist to toes, does not work properly, and right half of the vision from my right eye is impaired.
My guess is that the right leg thing will improve as the muscles find new ways to coordinate themselves.
If I cover my left eye, I can then see the vision from the right half of right eye. It seems to be being automatically excluded from the full field of view, because it is marred by some junk artefacts, whirling squiggles and other jumpy things.
I am expecting that both those signs of damage – right leg and right half of right eye – will become less noticeable as my system adjusts and recovers. On the bright side, in addition to being still alive, my left leg and left eye are good and functional.
More bothering is my apparent deficit in mental functioning. Short term memory seems to have gone. Many of my old mappings and conceptual structures have vanished. For example, my house is full of cables, sockets, plugs, for all the electrical equipment. I’ve lost all that info, have to trace and rediscover anew what does what, as if for the first time.
It’s an obvious statement to say that one does not know what one does not know – Rumsfeld’s famous ‘unknown unknowns’ category – so it’s possible that I am unaware of some of the damage, but the picture will become clarified as time goes by.
In other words, I’ve had a bad crash, sustained serious damage, but I’m still functioning and enjoying myself immensely. Partly (credit where credit is due) because of all the excellent crazy women I met. It was wonderful ! No sooner had one shift ended, than a new batch came on duty, and lots of them were stars who provided great entertainment.
Perhaps the outstanding event was to have my beard plaited into three braids which was excellent fun and very therapeutic. 🙂
So that’s the first edition of this episode. I’ll be adding more later.
[Added Peter Gabriel tracks. Chosen because line ‘excellent birds‘ arrived in my head as awoke]
Now, on with the work of re-assembling my fractured being….
Close shaves with ones’ death have the virtue of reminding a person about what matters most and what is of less concern. It’s very nice to be home, once again upon my sofa-at-the-centre-of-the-Universe… 🙂
The batteries of the wireless keyboard for iMac are flat, and I think Apple should have provided an alternative cable connection. I have plenty of old dead batteries, but none with enough juice left to give a solid connection sufficient to enter my password, so iMac is made useless by one simple failure. That’s a problem I’ve added to my ‘To do’ list, as I try to address the catastrophe that has occurred.
I have a page of paper in front of me. Reliable old fashioned biro, to list the various difficulties that arise so that I may resolve them in an orderly fashion, the aim being to survive and retain, or regain, mastery of my circumstances.
As I may have mentioned before, I like to keep my vital systems three deep. As the ideal to aim for, that is. This is because I hate the frustration and powerlessness that follows a system failure. We now rely upon technology so much, to function effectively. It’s much nicer, when a system fails, to be able to switch quickly and smoothly to a backup, than to be stranded and frustrated. Two alternative paths is better than one. Three is very rarely required. There’s probably a formula to calculate this stuff. I bet that the Black Swan guy, Nassim Taleb knows what it is. Very likely he’s the bugger who formulated it. 🙂
Sorry to swear, but this is not a ‘politically correct’ blog. I’ve been cursing (and smoking tobacco) most of my life. I noticed that nobody I met on my recent ‘holiday’ swore or smoked. Here at my mountain lair I please myself and am too old to change my ways now without getting more bad tempered than usual.
It’s far from being a precise and accurate analogy, to compare the human physiology to a mechanical computer system, in some ways I think it is very misleading, but if we accept the failings, it’s still quite a useful approximation to convey the general idea.
My physiological body encountered a system failure (the denial of vital services to crucial brain functions) so, as with a computer storage disk some data has been lost. Some may be retrievable as access links get rerouted. That remains to be seen. As things are, it seems that much data has just vanished. I query my brain to search for some answer but it cannot provide the anticipated results, so it goes down alternative paths looking into empty cupboards.
This is not unpleasant or painful, just not what I’ve been used to. Bit like a rich man who had a big house full of servants. I used to yell and ‘people’ would come running to provide whatever info I required. Now, the rooms and corridors are vacant.
I find I have forgotten very familiar abilities, like the procedure for adding images here. I’m confident I will rapidly relearn but it will take me a little while.
Thanks to Tom, Keith, Jackie, Michelle, for encouraging support. Much appreciated.
Day 2 of being at home, back from hospital.
Now I have managed to re-learn how to place images into this blog. As of yesterday, I’d lost that knowledge or ability, due to the stroke. I’ve had to re-learn how to do it all anew. Not that it’s a tremendously difficult procedure. It’s more an indication of what has happened to me.
As I understand it, a blood clot somewhere blocked off blood supply to some brain areas. So, without vital supplies of oxygen and nutrients, brain cells die, leading to noticeable results, disability, or in extreme cases, death.
I’m not clear as to whether new cells grow to replace the damaged ones, or whether new neural pathways have to be forged through existing cell networks. I can’t be bothered to research that at this moment.
Experientially, it appears that lots of thinking just hits blank areas. For example, I look at what I know must be familiar objects, because I’ve been living here for getting on thirty years. But, because brain info files have been deleted, I look at things and have no idea what they are or why they are here.
This is not unpleasant or frightening, so long as I can stay calm and accepting. Artists like this sort of thing. To see what exists with fresh new eyes, as if for the first time, is a very useful mode for painters. Mystics also relish and talk about this kind of experience, as do people having psychotic episodes.
Thing is, I am not a child playing in a meadow, nor a mental patient, I have to be self-reliant and take care of business.
As things are, I’m still dressed in the pyjamas they gave me at the hospital. I have made several attempts to change into new clothes, but so far, each time I end up back here at my computer keyboard, the centre of my Universe, having failed to achieve my goal.
I’m having to re-learn this basic stuff. It’s no longer automatically available.
Day three after leaving hospital and coming home.
After numerous attempts, when I have set out with the intention of getting out of hospital pyjamas and into some different clothes, I appear to have succeeded at last, and accomplished my goal.
On the many previous efforts I ended up back here (The Centre of the Universe) on my sofa, facing my laptop, able to remember that I had stood up earlier with a clear intention in mind to find some clothes. On each occasion I lost the plot somewhere en route and then found myself back on the sofa in front of this computer in the same effing pj’s that I’d had on when I set out, and unable to explain to myself why this kept happening.
I finally mustered some resolve, and despite several setbacks getting lost, I’ve accomplished that modest goal.
It is strange to become lost within one’s own home where one has dwelt for nigh three decades, but this is what the latest manifestation of my existence is like at the moment.
I mean, this is a very modest small Welsh cottage, you’d think it would be hard or impossible to get lost inside it, but what seems to have occurred is that I’ve lost, or lost connections to, parts of my brain that did the mapping of this supposedly familiar space, so venturing out away from this sofa might as well be going…. anywhere ?
The stuff I encounter is eerily familiar but also bizarrely strange as if I am a different person partially occupied by someone who has never been here before.
SITuationREPort, as of Friday, July 21st.
Here I am, alone in my cottage in the mountains, and, as the weather forecast predicted, it is raining heavily.
I may as well write this for public consumption, but my main purpose is private, I’m writing to try and explain to myself what has occurred and what is happening. It’s my job to ‘keep the show on the road’ here, and to do that I need a clear understanding, in so far as possible, of all the factors and influences that are swirling around.
My right leg, from foot to above the waist, is not working properly. It obeys instructions, so it is not paralysed, but the whole lower right quarter, from waistline down, is rather numb and the muscles seem to not act in sequence as they should.
This does not mean there is anything wrong with the leg, it means that the area in the brain which automatically (unconsciously) coordinates the sequence of muscle contractions and sensory feedback has been damaged, due to loss of blood flow caused by a clot obstructing an artery. I am not a doctor specialising in this stuff, but that’s what I understand. If anyone knows better, please correct this analysis.
Next, the vision from the right half of my right eye has gone, so to see what’s to my right side, I have to turn my head. However, if I close my left eye, I then get the full view from my right eye. It seems that the right half is being automatically and unconsciously excluded, because it is damaged. If I block off my left eye, and left half of the right eye, the remaining right half of right eye is functioning, but it’s picture is full of noisy artefacts, squiggles and rotating blurrs, and it is amazing really, that to give me optimal view of what is in front of me, this defective information is somehow being filtered out at an unconscious level. So, with both eyes open, the right quarter of my field of view is made absent, rather than being allowed to present junk information.
I also have the bowel problem which predates this latest calamity by sixteen years or so, when I had a colostomy which was successfully reversed. My colon began being troublesome again a couple months ago.
This gut problem is not necessarily related to the stroke problem, except in so far as nothing is really separate from anything else. Doctors or biologists talk about the various sub-systems as if they are separate and independent, because it’s convenient to think of them as discrete. But really it’s better also to think of everything as interconnected.
It’s like a city. You can think of the police service or the refuse collection and disposal services or the water supply, or traffic management, etc, as if they are independent. But if one subservice fails there are soon knock on effects that cause perturbations throughout the system.
Anyway, more serious and indeed more interesting philosophically, are the perceived mental effects.
Whoever I was prior to this metabolic disaster has, at least partially, vanished. So I am now the location of a new identity.
Some of this is not unfamiliar territory. If you take a powerful psychedelic, like LSD, you can have a somewhat similar experience that rearranges your mental furniture, there are numerous accounts in the literature, I don’t need to add to them. Also if you do very intense zen meditation, or other related practices, you can collapse the normal sense of identity and have various revelatory or mystical experiences.
My personal view is that all these areas are very important and worthy of study, not least as an antidote to the low grade sludge and dreck put out by the Mainstream Media and vested interests of the education system. We are intensively propagandised almost from birth, by powerful established interests which want to maintain their power and control into the future. Hence some understandings or analyses are heavily endorsed and promoted, whilst others are suppressed and excluded.
That’s something of a digression from the SITREP topic, and possibly requires a new headline here. But this is MY blog, where I have liberty to ramble as I please, FWIW, no ? 🙂