I wrote this article in August 2003, so about 18 months after my bleed so it's a little dated now. So today (December 2016) I've add some footnotes, although in truth things haven't changed that much in the last thirteen years so I guess this is how it's going to be until the end.
Ways My Head Is Messed Up
Stress or otherwise overdoing it can leave me feeling very odd, but it can also happen for no readily apparent reason. If I could characterise it it's, at least in part, fear that I'm going to have another seizure, but I think it's really my brain saying "stop it, that hurts".
I get neuralgia, sharp pains in my head. I also get spells of feeling like my brain is racing or is "brittle" (something which I hate and can often only be fixed by going to bed and sleeping it off).
Over and above that though I'm often simply below par, whether triggered off by some of the above or not. When I'm below par I'm often dizzy. Not seriously so (although I am sometimes, but usually only for a short time) this is more long term dizziness, which can last for hours. I also seem to unable to really think. It's impossible to program. Making decisions about things as trivial as what to eat can seem huge. Recently I've come to realise that this is probably a migraine, but without the headache phase.
I also often seem to lose the ability to multi-process. This means that if I'm doing something like reading and someone speaks, even if it's not to me, I completely lose the plot. A similar thing can happen if I'm having a conversation with someone. It can happen to me in mid sentence and I've got very smart at bluffing that I can still remember what the hell I'm talking about until, hopefully, I get enough clues to get back on message.
Similarly something will flash through my mind: that I should check the ducks say, and then it's gone again. I know that I had to do something, but what it was I can't remember.
I used to use the wrong word fairly often. This has pretty much stopped now, but I still do it frequently when typing. This along with a great reduction in my ability to proof read is very annoying and I've now started to employ a proof reader for our company marketing materials.
I'm also dreadful with people's names (although to be fair I wasn't that good before my stroke).
I used to get visual auras, but no headache. Now, sadly, I get the opposite. The good news is that Maxalt Melt aka Rizatriptan seems to get rid of it in about thirty minutes most of the time although it leaves me feeling rather brain dead for the next six to eight hours1. These migraines, with or without the headache, often come in clusters.
I have had quite a lot of numbness, primarily down my right side, but with some exceptions. The areas affected have been:
- my tongue, on the extreme right edge, from middle to the back
- the right side of my neck towards the back and under my jaw
- my back, from backbone to my right flank, including my right shoulder blade
- my right side below the rib cage, coming around forwards towards the belly button
- into my groin up to and including the right edge of my scrotum(!)
- my right thigh
- my left calf
It's worth noting the oddities here: my right arm has been fine, my right leg below the knee had some trouble early on, by has been fine since, and why my left calf?! Why neither foot come to that? It's very odd.
The numbness could best be characterised as like recovering from lignocaine (dentist's local anaesthetic) or from having pins and needles, with tingling occurring if I make the nerves work by rubbing the tissue. There's always been some feeling there, so I could feel touches on the skin, but it wasn't "right". For example when Beth hugs me if feels like she's only squeezing on my left size when she's actually squeezing equally on both sides.
Over time the tingling has reduced and so has the numbness I think, although it can be hard to tell for sure.
The other thing I've noticed is that the numbness is an indicator of how I am in general. Generally I hardly notice my tongue but if it feels numb I should probably have a lie down.
I had several tonic seizures (and one simple partial seizure) post stroke. I'm now of Epilim which seems (touch wood) to keep this at bay. The bad news is that it means I can hardly drink any alcohol and I'm on the tablets for life2.
- I can't sleep on my side with one leg on top of the other any more.3
- I can't cross the road without looking carefully left and right, not sure why. This is a lot better than it was mind you.
- I've since had to severely restrict my use of triptans and other analgesics after getting caught up in medicine overuse headaches - this is discussed somewhere in my blog. So these days I just put up with all but the worst of my migraines.
- As you'll know if you've followed my Stroke Weblog I've not remained seizure free - I still get occasional partials, and so have to give up my driving licence for at least a year each time, but at least I've not had any more tonics.
- This is one symptom which I think has gone now ... or perhaps I never try. No sure now I think about it.