Saturday, November 14, 2015

Look Closer

     My miracle drug worked for 26 years.
     After the wreck in 1995, I realized medication was more than a convenience to keep me from zoning out. It was a necessity if I wanted to drive again.
     The only time I stopped taking it after that was in 1998, before Ronnie was born. I didn't drive until it was safe to go on the meds again with fewer risks to him. The seizures came back again, but I didn't pass out.
     Ronnie was born as healthy as his older brothers. You cannot tell by their brains, beauty or brawn which was the no Depakote baby vs. the some Depakote baby vs. the more Depakote baby.
     The neurologists and my older sister were right when they told me in 1989 that I could still have children if I followed The Rules for women like me.
     After Ronnie was born, there were not so many rules because I stayed on Depakote and it continued to be my ticket to freedom.
     Sometimes, seizures go away on their own, but the only way to find out for sure is to go off your meds and wait. No neurologist encouraged me to do that.
     I knew my seizures would return, sooner or later. I just knew, but I expected it to be later and somehow, on my own terms. (Some ideas look really lame when you finally see them in writing, don't they?)
     "If we lived in a city where people don't drive, like New York, I might try it," is a typical comment I made in recent years. I'm not sure what fantasy world that vision came from.
     If I do stop my meds someday, it will probably be out of boredom when I'm too old to drive but still want to take trips on my own.
     There have been a lot of tests...MRIs, CAT scans, sleep studies, EEGs, sleep-deprived EEGs, three-day-long EEGs, etc., at places like Duke, George Washington University, Hershey Medical Center, D.C. and Bethesda. Pictures of my brain are scattered all over the place. There could even be a few in Japan.
     All the results were "normal," as far as I know, except for a tiny glitch in the left part of my hippocampus, detected in a 2011 MRI. My neurologist at the time said I was born that way, and I had no problem with that. Finally, I could point to a reason, as specific part of my brain that wasn't quite normal...a teeny-tiny spot.
Hippocampal Sclerosis 
     Big sis, however, said that didn't quite explain it. Of course, she was right.
     Four months ago, my new neurologist looked at the same MRI and gave me a clearer picture of what's going on in my head. He pointed to specific areas and showed me the difference between my healthy brain and my damaged brain.
     Damaged brain? WHAT? Please repeat, Doc. I didn't quite get that.
     Look closer, he said. "Do you see this part of your brain? In most people, it's spongy, but yours is a pancake."

     Hippocampus -  looks like a seahorse, affects memories, emotions, learning.

      My seahorse is as flat as a pancake on one side:-((((((((((((

     When did it happen? Did all the seizures do it? Was it the Depakote?
     He said I was probably born this way.
     I was born with a slightly damaged seahorse and never realized it? But that's impossible.
     If it was possible, what could it mean?
     Almost everything neurologists have told me about this disease has proven to be true, even when I didn't want it to be. However, this is an extremely difficult pill to swallow.
      It's much easier to believe something happened gradually over time than to consider it was there all along and I just didn't realize it.
     I told you this is a trippy disease.
     Every time I turn a corner, there's a new door waiting on the other side.