I opened my Psychology textbook a couple weeks ago to read about Biopsychology, Neuroscience and Human Nature. I had to write a paper for my abnormal psych class about sympathetic division and parasympathetic division, basically our bodies’ fight-or-flight responses. However, instead of taking an hour to read that specific section and write my paper, I spent my time reading the entire chapter. The intro paragraph to the chapter gave me chills as I scanned over it. You could’ve been fooled into thinking the textbook wrote about the first day I had an attack, using nearly exact depictions I have used before.
The textbook wrote; “Then, on a cold December morning, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s life abruptly changed. When Jill first awoke that fateful day, she noticed a painful pounding in her head that felt like a severe headache. As she tried to go about her normal morning routine, however, she began to notice odd changes in her body and mind. Stepping into the shower became a focused effort in coordination. Her body felt strange; the sound of water was a deafening roar, and the overhead light seared her eyes. Jill could hear her family’s voices, each syllable like a pen drop, but was not able to respond no matter how hard she tried. As she tried to think rationally and figure out what was happening, she couldn’t keep her thoughts on track and felt two steps behind. …”
I wrote in a past blog; “October 26th, 2012, I was a sophomore in high school. I woke up that Friday morning in a weird daze, like I was two steps behind everyone else. Headaches were not a new thing for me, but that day it was a headache like never before. I was not myself. I chalked it up to cheering in the rain and not eating well the night before. I figured my asthma was acting up and I was on the verge of being sick, nothing a weekend of rest couldn’t kick. In second hour, Señora Johnson asked me my favorite sport to play. I was to respond, in Spanish. But I couldn’t. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. You know in cartoons when someone’s talking but the person listening feels like it’s far away or out of focus? That’s exactly how I felt. It was like I could hear each letter of what she was saying but I physically could not respond. She gave me an awkward, like, two minutes to respond. About a minute after I couldn’t come up with a response, and a friend jumped in to save me, I passed out for the first time…”
Dr Jill, had a stroke that day. She was taken to the hospital, tested, scanned, diagnosed and treated. She still spent 3-4 months returning to her normal self, but says she can remember the feeling of that morning like it was yesterday. I too remember the moment like it was yesterday except, I was not tested or scanned(at first), I was shown how constipation was the answer, instead. I can’t help but wonder what changed that day. Or what could’ve been different over the next few years if I had had tests run that first ER trip. It’s scary how much could potentially slide through the cracks based on one doctor’s opinion. What if I’d been having a real stroke? That’s where my essay prompt about doctors having a God complex came in. Yeah, I had fun with that one.
Learning about the brain works and all things psychology is my favorite. If I could be a real life Criminal Minds team member, I would do it in heart beat. But it is kinda weird having discussions about things that hit close to home. After having discussions, reading the above, and writing two essays; one about doctor’s God complex and the other about the sympathetic nervous system I was loving my psychology class. Then, last week, I had an appointment with a pain management doctor. He talked with my mom and I for probably an hour before we began discussing possible ways he could help. I really liked the doctor and appreciated that he was aware how serious and complex my case was. Dr. M presented the idea of a nerve block. But he happened to start explaining the works of the sympathetic nervous system! It was so cool to be able to have knowledge of what he was discussing and all the things this system does for our bodies.
The next day, Dr. M set me up for a Stellate Ganglion Nerve Block. The procedure is performed by putting a needle right into your neck. Lovely, right? Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I had made myself nice and anxious about it, until I realized the picture I had come up with in my head was of an actual meat thermometer being jabbed into my carotid. Probably another nod to Criminal Minds, there. The hope of the SG block is that it helps my jaw and the major right-sided swelling that this doctor found. Unfortunately, we know it won’t help the root of the problem, HM directly, but maybe these few pieces of it. Any-who, with zero local anesthetic, the doc went for it. I knew he was successfully in the middle of my nerve when I got instant make-you-sick-pain. All in all the whole procedure was pretty short and sweet. The nurses were fantastic, but underestimated my experience as they were sure to explain that a X-Ray would not hurt, and just took pictures. When the X-Ray picture popped up on the screen, two nurses started whispering, worried about something in my vein. It was actually just my Port-a-cath line that you could see plain as day, which I thought was awesome! We have yet to see ground breaking results but are hopeful that with a few more blocks we will soon. I go back in this Friday!