Epic, from the 90's,December 2005, September 2006, Present Day, And the Damn Chiari Malformation That Laughed the Whole Way
Posted Nov 29 2008 12:20pm
For Shelly, it's not as easy to explain as one might think.
I used to think I'd become numb to tragedies. Things that to others would be huge, I'd walk by with a sideways glance. My obstacles were measured by numbness, in my hands, my arms, my heart.
I fell in love this past year, and it seemed far from epic. It was quiet, barely a whisper, and I always knew it was misplaced. It was wrong on every level, he was wrong on every level, and I couldn't stop myself. It ebbed and flowed, C and I. I couldn't shake the feeling I knew him for a reason, but I couldn't put it into words. I could love him in silence, but he wanted to pry me open and show me how UNKNOWN his hurt was.
I told him I loved him before my 30th birthday. My head hurt and my hands were numb and I tripped when I walked, and I thought maybe that's what love did when it wasn't returned. I wouldn't know. I loved my family as much as I hated them, but men were only people I slept with on occasion. I had loved A when I was 16, but ours was fast burning and urgent, the way only first loves can be. Maybe this was the same.
So I cried like a teenager and pounded my fists into my floor. And my head hurt more, and I couldn't feel my fists hitting the carpet. I'd take the phone off the hook so he couldn't call me. We had a long distance relationship but lived in the same city, and every time I started to flow away he'd yank me back and we'd crash into each other like waves racing to the shoreline and being pulled back.
For two weeks my head wanted to burst open, like Athena springing fully grown from a crack in her fathers forehead. And I vomited and swayed my way into the bathroom, flipping for the light switch I saw nothing but black swimming shapes, and they were pulling me out to sea, and he was pulling me out to sea, and they wanted me to drown. And I knew it wasn't misplaced love then.
At the ER I stayed curled on my side as after the CT scan, during the lumbar puncture. After 17 hours they sent me home, only sure that my brain wasn't bleeding. My birthday came and went that weekend, and C didn't call, and I crawled from room to room, unable to stand without screaming and vomiting.
Monday I went to the doctor the ER had referred me to. I rocked back and forth in the waiting room because I couldnt sit up straight. In the blessedly quiet and dark exam room, the doctor told me there was something wrong with my CT scan. I think she said my brain was to big. or my skull to small. And because of this and the lumbar puncture, this was why I'd been reduced to a knuckle dragging neanderthal. She called an ambulance and they rushed me back a whole half block to see a neurosurgeon.
I counted backwards from sevens and named the presidents backwards to Carter. I looked at flashing lights and counted fingers waving in front of me. I had a blood patch to repair the leak the lumbar puncture had caused..a lumbar puncture in reverse. I was sent home with orders to have an MRI and take migraine medication.
In October I stood on a deserted beach in England and looked across the English Channel. I watched the rain clouds gather overhead and real waves crash onto the rocky shoreline. I had my palm read and he told me something was wrong with my head, something was wrong with C, and they'd be cutting me open.
Back home I had my MRI. Two days later my doctor called and sent me to have another MRI to visualize my spine as well and rushed me back to the neurosurgeon. I scrunched up my forehead when I heard "Chiari Malformation". I had over a 12 mm protrusion of my cerebral tonsils from the base of my skull. I had a syrinx, a bubble, in my spinal column. And I learned I'd never had myasthenia gravis. I learned why I'd often choke on water and have to spit it up. I learned why I would sometimes walk like I was drunk in broad daylight. I learned they never should have given me bifocals when I was 8, because it wasn't my eyes, it was my brain. I learned why they thought I had a brain tumor when I was 7. I learned why they thought I had MS when I was 20. I learned why I'd pass out from coughing when I had the flu. I learned why my heart would race so fast all I'd remember is waking up on the floor in my bathroom. I learned why they could never fix anything, because they never looked for something rare, something hiding at the bottom of an MRI. I learned why my fingers wouldnt always do what I told them. I learned unless they fixed it soon I might be paralyzed.
And I learned I was born this way, and none of it was ever my fault. And because it wasn't severe enough to have me born with spina bifida, I learned it was usually diagnosed in someones 30's.
Because when you hear hoofbeats, you don't look for zebras.