I’ve been up almost 24 hours, so a little ranting seems justified. Just to be safe, I’ll hold this post till tomorrow just to make sure I haven’t allowed my exhaustion to color the facts.
I went to Boston today. Going to Boston means a minimum of 5 1/2 hours one way. I just love getting up at 4 AM and not getting home till nearly midnight. I am the one who usually sees the sunrise because I stayed up all night. Getting up to see the sunrise is just wrong! See? I told you this was going to be a rant.
I travel to Boston to see my psychiatrist and my epileptologist. The latter is just a neurologist with a passion for EEGs. Ok, to be fair, he researches and treats patients who have rather rare types of epilepsy with emotional aspects. The emotional aspects necessitate the psychiatrist who prescribes the pills that help with the depression that comes from the epileptic stuff. So yeah. It’s definitely a checkup from the neck up…TWICE! Props to Kinky Friedman for that phrase. With all that’s been going on with my brain, I find I use it a lot these days.
The EEG-lover gets quite animated when he talks about my background epileptiform bursts. Apparently, I have them pretty much constantly. He got a real treat when I had an actual seizure during the consultation. There was a gleam in his eye and I knew what was coming. In the past, he’s had suggestions that have scared the hell out of me.
I always get a little nervous when he starts suggesting things because he’s as much a research scientist as he is a clinician and he’s cutting edge (no pun intended) as far as neurologists go. It’s no coincidence that we drive 5 1/2 hours for a consultation that lasts less than one hour. After my seizure was over, I was ready. I went into “look sideways mode” and waited, but he hit me with something new.
He told me about this thing called vagus nerve stimulation. That sounded interesting till he explained that they implant a battery pack in your shoulder or armpit. This powers wires that they loop up through your neck and wrap around the vagus nerve. This was sounding less appealing, but I continued to listen. At least it wasn’t what he typically talks about. Apparently, this nerve shocking thing helps about 50% of patients. Of the patients it helps, there is only a 50% reduction in seizures. At least that’s what I think I heard. I was still a little queasy from the whole nerve wrapping idea so my listening skills were a bit impaired.
Then comes the deal breaker. If it isn’t effective, or it ceases to work, you can’t remove it. You can get rid of the battery pack, but you are stuck with wires wrapped around your nerve…for life! I don’t particularly care for my petit mal seizures that I have almost every day, but wrapping wires around my vagus nerve and electrifying it went just a little too far. Being stuck with it for life whether it worked or not was WAY too far.
Then he went there. I knew he would. He knows my fears and my “absolutely won’t happen ever” stand. He gave his little half smile that I’m sure he thought was reassuring and potentially swayful. He looked me in the eye and said: “This isn’t brain surgery.”