Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feeling a Little Mortal?

Several weeks ago I began noticing, for want of a better term, a bit of pressure in my forehead, no pain, just a kind of pressure. I also noticed that along with the pressure came fleeting bouts of a kind of dizziness. If I turned my head quickly, it was like the scene before me kept moving a split second or so after my head stopped. I found that not just a little disconcerting.

These bouts have persisted and become somewhat more pronounced over the past few weeks. The pressure comes and goes, but often lasting a couple of hours or more, usually early in the day. These bouts make me tired, and all I want to do is lie down. Needless to say, this has been really disturbing. I kept my own council about this as the family - my wife, Jo and both of our kids - have enough problems to deal with without worrying about the old man.

About ten days ago I finally got in to see my doctor at the VA, and I apprised her of what had been happening. I'll take this moment to give kudos to both the VA and my primary care doctor out there, Dr. Rashida Shah. Dr. Shah didn't hem and haw, didn't hesitate. My visit with her was on a Friday. I had an MRI done the following Tuesday morning. Not bad.

I hadn't heard anything for a couple of days after the MRI, so I called the VA last Thursday and was first told that they didn't have the results. (The MRI had been outsourced.) However, within an hour, Dr. Shah called me back with the news that the MRI results indicated a "spot" on my frontal lobe. Not the news I was hoping to hear. The written report did say that it was not definitive and could in fact be an anomaly. Maybe I belched at the wrong moment, or, uh, something.

Nevertheless, Dr. Shah ordered yet another MRI, only this time using "contrast." Friday afternoon I was back getting my head examined magnetically once again. Last week-end was one of the longer ones I have ever spent. I didn't actually get the results until yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon when, again, I called the VA. I got the same song and dance that the results were not back yet, but again, Dr. Shah called me soon after, and in her words "you have absolutely nothing going on in your head."

Well, that's been suggested to me on many occasions - more than I would like to admit - but this was one time that I was glad to hear it. There are no masses, no lesions, no aneurysms, no "spots." The first reading was apparently a hiccup. Woohoo! Relief was just a phone call away. Of course, that still leaves me with this pressure, the dizziness, and the tiredness. What now?

Dr. Shah thinks that it might be a sinus problem. She has prescribed some kind of steriod nasal spray. She has also ordered an appointment for me with an opthalmologist to see if it could be something with my eyes. I hope to figure out what the hell is going on soon.

As the title of this piece suggests, I have been feeling quite mortal over the past few weeks. Brain thingys are not to be sneezed at; just ask the surviving Kennedys. My wife, Jo's oldest cousin succumbed to a brain tumor in about 6 months from diagnosis. She was in her mid 40s. So, too, did a fellow about my age who lived down the street from us a couple of years ago.

Of course, when I had been set up with the first MRI, I told Jo all about it. As of this writing, all my kids know is that I haven't been feeling well, and I'd been to the doctor. I know I'm not out of the woods yet. I suppose that the MRIs could have missed something. But, at least the reported results made feel less like I have one foot in the grave. I had about convinced myself that I did.



Zoe said...

I can understand the angst about all this. I too had a rough patch involving what seemed to be TIA (mini-strokes). Went the MRI route as well. Nothing turned up. I haven't had any serious episodes for about a year now but once in a while, I get the jerky dizziness or visual thing going on. I hate to say it, but it's not unusual for even the med professionals to figure out what's going on. Hope it resolves soon or you get some answers soon.

Zoe said...

Oops, that didn't come out right but I imagine you'll know what I mean. It's not unusual for the med professionals to not be able to figure out what's going on.

Terry S said...

Yeah, my fear is that I may not be properly describing what's happening. It's kind of nebulous to me. MRIs are supposedly pretty thorough - especially when using "constrast" as they did on my second test. While that may have eliminated some things, I still don't have an answer. I suppose it will just be a matter of trial and error for the next weeks and, perhaps, months.

TIAs are disturbing. My mother had a number of them, although not as far as I know, prior to her eighties. I have a brother in-law about my age who has had several. My neighbor, a year or so older than I has had a couple of strokes. He still functions, but his recovery has been fitful at best. He has trouble maintaining his balance among other things.

Oh, such happy thoughts. Thanks for yours, though. :)


MizB said...

Hello, Baritone -- I came to check out your site and thank you for your kind comments on my most recent Blogcritics posts (which I do: thank you), then saw this post on your health problem. As it happens, I'm writing this with my head in a dizzy blur, because I have what [the doctors think is] an unresolved inner-ear imbalance. All I know is, I can't bend down without reeling, or lie down without having to jump up and throw up. Not fun. For we Boomers, it all seems to be falling apart suddenly and all around us: our bodies, our spirits, the routines of our lives, the heroes of our youth and the demons (and...jerks...) of the present. Obviously, you must continue your medical inquiry until you get answers and solutions. But I have the sense that this will turn out to be something relatively minor and totally treatable. It's so easy to let your fears and growing sense or mortality get the best of you. Don't be too hard on yourself, and try to look (albeit cross-eyed...) on the bright side. I send you my best and look forward to our following each other's work on Blogcritics. Be well.

Terry S said...


Thanks for your encouragement. I obviously hope you are right.

I delight in discovering your work at BC. I made a quick perusal of your site and will spend more quality time their soon. I guess it helps that we apparently agree on a lot of things.

Yeah, our bodies don't particularly do us any favors as we enter or "golden" years.

In your case have they bandied about the possibility of your having Meniere's Disease? As I recall both Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy suffered from it some years ago. I suppose it was all that time spent in space.

I was relieved with the results of my last MRI as I noted. I don't think I'm going to croak owing to whatever this is going on in my head. Of course, as Gilda Radner titled her book - "It's Always Something." It seems that virtually every day there is a "something" - a pain here, a hitch there - something new. Most such things are fleeting as they go as quickly and unexpectedly as they appear. Nothing to worry about, right? But thoughts tend to linger at least for a while - "What the hell was that?"

I don't publish either at BC or even on my 2 blogs nearly as much as I used to do. I still am charged with the job of bringing home the bacon to make mortgage payments and so forth. My 2 sons have embarked upon careers but neither are quite out of the financial quagmire of student loan and burgeoning credit card debt, so we're still helping to support them to a degree. Time and energy. I don't seem to have enough of either.

But I still occasionally get a bug in my craw and feel compeled to scribble out something or other, and I do comment a lot on other writers' postings.

Thanks again for the good wishes and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.


MizB said...

Hi, Terry (now let's see if my feeble mind can keep the combination of BC user-names and real names straight...). I appreciate your response and share your sense of overload. Yes, it's always something, and often everything at once! -- Best, Jeanne (aka MizB)

Terry S said...

Jeanne (aka MizB,)

I understand the reasoning behind user names, but it does seem a bit silly. When I first signed on at BC, having a user name other than your own was actually recommended. Now though, with time it has become rather cumbersome. The problem is that if I change my user name at BC, it will cause some kind of catastrophic tsunami that will obliterate mankind, or something like that. I have considered changing my real name to Baritone, but thought better of that as well.

I should have chosen a more intriguing user name such as George Clooney or Sean Connery. I mean, what the hell, right?

I remember a fellow I once knew, a realtor, who used a photo of Tom Selleck on his business cards. Unfortunately, he looked nothing like Selleck beyond having a face, hair atop his head, and neck and shoulders below. I guess he thought that was close enough. :)

BTW - Don't confuse me with another contributor at BC having the user name "Baronius." Not a bad sort, but he does see things from a more conservative perspective than I do. Nevertheless, the confusion happens with some regularity.


MizB said...

I would never mistake a "Baronius" for a Baritone; one is a Roman Caesar, the other is a cool guy with a groovy voice... ;)

Terry S said...

I'm not sure how cool I am. My sons might have something to say about that, but I do sing fairly well. Doobie, doobie do... :)