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Denial


Tecumseh
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The week before Christmas I was at home with my son just waking up laying in bed while running a bath when suddenly I noticed a severe headache in the back of my head. I also noticed I suddenly had diarrhea and sweating. I went upstairs and told my son I was not feeling well and he might have to drive me to the ER at the very least he should check on me in an hour or two.

 

OK I opened my emergency travel pack took, Zofran, Vicodan, Pepcid, Tylenol and curled up in a fetal position for 18 hours. I remember thinking I had a stiff neck thinking should it be worse in flexion or extension for meningitis? and I did think I should go to the ER but they would ask me a lot of questions and it would be noisy with bright lights, I did not want to move from my dark bed, soft covers and fetal position.

 

After 18 hours I felt a bit better and for the next 6 days went about the Holiday stuff, we even had a family of house guests. I did have a pretty bad headache this whole time and lots of trouble sleeping. I did hear a little voice from a neurology professor of mine from medical school saying "a person who has the worst headache of their life deserves a CT scan". Now the funny thing before I became an ophthalmologist I moonlighted in the ER and if a person came in with a stiff neck and severe headache I would have been very concerned, funny what denial can do.

 

So finally went to ER and told had bleed transferred to University hospital and had angio negative and NASAH perimesencephalic hemorrhage though that is with an asterisk because initial scan was a week after bleed. Only kept for two days because so far out.

 

Recovery still that denial thing, went back to work after one week home and it was way too soon. Fatigue, headaches, insomnia were the big issues with me also photophobia and phonophobia. But much better now 6 weeks out mostly things have returned to normal but endurance still lacking also my sense of taste is altered and with it much of my appetite.

 

There was a good review article in World Journal of Neurosurgery about these types of bleeds and although most people do very well I think if people had extensive neuropsychological testing before and after a bleed (if people had a baseline to compare) it would show that usually there are a few deficits somewhere though these might not be clinically relevant. This is the conclusion of the authors. One example for me is scanning behavior, if I was timed in word search puzzles I am sure I am a lot slower than before. Driving in multiple lanes of busy traffic is something I am sure I would find quite fatiguing.

 

The one thing I think I share with many posters here is there is really no way to know what your limit is until you have passed it, so this a source of frustration. Since I have recovered well I view this whole thing as sort of a blessing, I realized I have a very supportive and loving family and realize my 20 year old children are adults but more importantly I got a view into what aging is and while denial can be healthy, really it can be overdone, part of getting older is slowing down. It did force me to take a look at my life and what I want to do before I really have to slow way down for good.

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You know what you want to do - but your body tells you what you can do - and there is a void between the two.  Many a sports star will tell you they know where they should run, but they can't get there in the same time they used to - so they find another way and call it experience!

 

When you go shopping if you can't find what you want, you find an alternative - that's what you're doing now - embrace it, make the most of it and be glad you got the chance!

 

Good luck,

 

Macca

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They do say medically trained people can be the last people to seek treatment! I'm glad you are seeing some steady recovery. You are so right about the insight into ageing. I often sit with my dad who is in his 70's now, and he moans about being creaky and can't move as he did.

 

Then I moan a little about being tired and not being able to move as I did and then we look at each other and just laugh because thankfully we are both here and just slowed down enough to enjoy and appreciate the moments and time we have together which is beautiful really.

 

Limits are hard to accept whatever your age or whatever the reason change was wrought.

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Tec,

You sound like me, but mine was cigs & drink and I was "God gave me epilepsy so he will take care of me as I have had my share of bad

luck in life"  Think he was testing me though.

 

If you don't believe in God,  sorry as I do. Also on a go slow as I am

getting past it ha.    Life is good xx

 

Hope you are well now.

 

Regards

WinB143 xx

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Hi there Tecumseh, I too work in the medical profession and did a similar denial thing in October last year.

 

When the headache (and chest and leg muscle spasms) started I was walking across the road to my parents and rang my GP under my mums advice, I managed to persuade him it was probably a virus because I had a fever (since learned this is a side effect of acute SAH); the day after my headache started I was cooking curries (very slowly but determinedly) and only went to the doctor on day 3 because my husband and son forced me too because every time I stood up I cried out and nearly collapsed at one point; 8 hours later I was in neuro ICU in the specialist centre an hour away, I was there for a week and I too was diagnosed with a NASAH perimesencephalic haemorrhage.

 

Looking back I knew something was terribly wrong but as I had never had a headache before I just assumed that was normal for a headache and I think I was not thinking straight! The consultant said my only risk factors were being female and stress.. I have definitely chilled out and as you say have made myself slow down.

 

My family felt very guilty they had not taken me to the doctor earlier but I was being very stubborn and was playing it down not to upset them.

 

I have definitely looked at life differently and appreciated so much more and try to worry less. As one of my friend's told me "don't walk out to meet danger"... I try not to.

 

Thank you for sharing your story.

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I did the denial thing too, but it was because I'd never had a headache so bad and had never heard that "the worst headache of your life" can be the sign of a stroke. I actually sat through a movie, went home and tried to take a nap, and all the while I was completely in so much pain that every beam of light and every sound made me want to vomit. Looking back it made no sense to NOT be alarmed. If I hadn't posted on Facebook "I have the worst headache of my life, is this what a migraine feels like?" Thank God among the suggestions to take Excedrin and drink coffee were people in the medical field saying "Go to the hospital! Go now!" and one of them started texting me furiously. 

 

So I finally did, six hours later. So thankful I did. No telling what the outcome might have been. 

 

I find it interesting that studies show that most people have a good outcome. I've always wondered what that means? To me a good outcome is no deficits or impact on their lives. I know my neurosurgeon thinks I had a good outcome but she has no idea that three years later I'm on medication (I never was on a single thing before) for chronic daily headaches. I don't consider that a good outcome. She hasn't bothered to follow up. It seems from here and the people I know personally, that there are a lot of not great outcomes. Not necessarily HORRIBLE outcomes, but not "good" outcomes. 

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