Elaine and I were married on March 21, 1998. Andrew was born January 29, 1999, and Jeff on May 5, 2000. We are so happy to have them in our lives.
In February of 1988, I was working as a freelance computer consultant. March was my busiest month of the year, and I was expecting to do very well.
I awoke one Friday morning with a terrible headache. Other narrators here have described "the worst headache of my life", and that was certainly true with me. But despite its severity, I thought the problem might be related to another headache I had suffered about one year earlier. At that time, my chiropractor treated me for a small spinal adjustment, giving instantaneous relief. So of course I hoped for the same outcome this time.
Well, it turned out that my chiropractor was on vacation and his calls were being handled by another doctor. I made an appointment for that afternoon, and asked a friend to drive me down. I went about my business making coffee and so forth, and I realized that I was suffering from double vision. I found out much later that double vision is a sign of serious neurological trouble.
When I went to fetch the newspaper, I found Wednesday's, Thursday's, and Friday's editions all stuffed into the mailbox. And I also found three days of mail. And I also found three days of messages on my answering machine. This is starting to look a lot more serious than I had thought. I should add here that I was also involved with an amateur theater group. We rehearsed and performed in the evenings, so people would not be alarmed if they were unable to reach me for several days. Which apparently had happened.
I explained to the chiropractor that I needed an adjustment to cure a bad headache. He seemed quite reluctant to touch me after I told him about the double vision. After the treatment (it didn't do any good) he sent me on my way with instructions to see my regular chiropractor after his vacation.
My headache was getting worse, and my friend suggested that I stay with them overnight. I went to bed around 8:00 PM on Friday, and at 4:00 PM Saturday I was still in bed. They went upstairs to check on me, but I didn't feel well enough to get up. I did manage to eat a piece of toast later in the evening.
On Sunday morning, I finally got up and asked to be taken to the hospital. Around this time I started to have memory loss. I do remember being driven to Ottawa General, but I don't remember checking in. I was told later that the admitting nurse asked me if I had suffered a recent blow to the head. I said no, but that I had been downhill skiing the previous weekend and had fallen a few times. An hour later, a doctor on the neurology ward asked about my skiing, and I insisted that I hadn't been skiing in years.
I was placed under observation. Nurses came in regularly to ask me if I knew where I was, what day it was, and other "simple" questions. I always knew where I was, but I could never get the day or date correct.
An angiogram was ordered, and it showed that a brain aneurysm was causing the difficulty. I have no recollection of being told, signing the forms, meeting the surgeon, or pretty much anything else. One clear memory I have is meeting the dietician. Apparently the kitchen sent me the wrong meal one day, and after I complained she came up with the meal plans for the upcoming week. We worked together to get the next week's meals properly ordered. It's strange that I recall this insignificant event but not other more profound ones. And I'm sure what really happened was that I just didn't know what I was writing on the meal forms in the first place.
Surgery was done a week after I was admitted. It was successful. There was concern that I might lose my sight, because the aneurysm was located quite close to my optic nerve. But I had no loss of physical functions. I walked rather unsteadily for a couple of months, and in fact I was "klutzy" in almost everything I did. My health did improve steadily, though. I think the doctors call it an "unremarkable" recovery. It seemed more like a miracle to me.
It took about a year for my mental functions to recover enough for me to return to work. And when I did return, it took a few months before I was really able to function effectively. My memory still seems a bit off, but I don't know whether to attribute the aneurysm or just aging.
I've had some problems with nocturnal seizures, but they are being controlled with a low dose of Dilantin. My GP thinks that we may be able to discontinue the drug eventually. I do hope that happens but I haven't had side effects from Dilantin so it doesn't bother me to take it.
As I write this, my aneurysm is 10 years past. I mark my life into two periods: Before Aneurysm and After Aneurysm. It's the most significant thing that's ever happened to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only narrator here with that opinion.
I am not the same person that I was BA. I had a Grade III aneurysm, which means I stood about a 30% chance of leading a functional life. When others think of major concerns, such as mortgage rates and career advancement, I think of how utterly insignificant those "concerns" are. I don't have any problem putting them aside. I have a life to live.
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