Broken Brains.

photo of head bust print artwork
Photo by meo on

Those who know me, particularly over the last 6 years, will know I had a brain haemorrhage in December 2012. I have alluded to this previously in my blogs but I have yet to go into any depth about the cause and effect of it. Previously, when I have spoken to people about the event I was nonchalant and somewhat blasé about it all.

I got thinking about this, amongst other things, in the last few weeks after spending a night in A&E with my Sister-in-law after my brother had a cycling accident, rendering him concussed, unconscious, fractured and grazed. Thankfully he is doing okay, but when the “Don’t panic but…” phone call comes through, your mind goes to the worst scenario despite any reassurances from the other end.

It’s not something that has been much discussed in my family of non-talkers but we all thought about my eldest brother whilst this was happening. My eldest brother passed away seven years ago, and even after the phone call saying blatantly what had happened, you still don’t believe it until you see it. So I needed to see my remaining brother to believe he was okay after his cycle accident. Despite my outward appearance, I was upset and it was brutal seeing him like that. Whilst it’s all turned out okay – not as bad as it could have been – I will remember each moment of that night as vividly as I remember my other brother’s death. I just kept thinking that I’ve lost one sibling; I cannot stand to lose another. After the night, I just had to get home to my own home, despite not sleeping, where I proceeded to have panic attacks and a few tears by myself.

As I have mentioned in a much earlier blog, I came to the realisation of burying the emotional trauma of my haemorrhage in February. I also mentioned how I didn’t do anything about that realisation at the time. I had started to work on it prior to a couple of weeks ago, talking to my therapist as well as others about it. I am now writing about it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, writing about trauma can reduce the emotional and mental effects it has on you. (This has been proven in cases of people with PTSD). Secondly, after seeing my brother lying in hospital and how it made me feel, it got me thinking about how my family and friends will have felt about seeing me in hospital when I had my haemorrhage and surgery. Apparently, on my first morning I was telling my Mother to chill out and stop crying because I was ‘fine’. I have no recollection of this of course, as I was under the blissful haze of morphine, but it gives you an idea of my general ‘ostrich school of management’ attitude to a part of my brain rupturing.

I’ve never much considered how others will have been affected by my haemorrhage, because I didn’t even consider how I felt about it. It was traumatic. I hated every single moment in hospital. I hated the hourly ops, the tubes in my arms, and the indignity of having to ask someone every time I needed to pee. I got off so lightly with my haemorrhage, I’m constantly tired, my short term memory isn’t as good as it was and sometimes words elude me but overall, I am fit and healthy. Whilst I say I got off lightly with the above ‘issues’, it doesn’t stop me being inexplicably frustrated with them when they happen. It spins back to my self-esteem and always wanting better from myself. The expectations I have on myself are high, irrespective of the problems I have faced.

I don’t know if I am better yet. The Gamma knife surgery I had isn’t a cut and dry type surgery. I had the emotionally and physically draining procedure back in May 2013, and it’s been a yearly treat to have an angiogram every year since to check if it is slowly working its magic. For those who don’t know what an angiogram is, give it a Google. It’s an absolute delight. Basically, what I am waiting to happen is to be told that the defect in my brain which caused the bleed has scarred over completely and will not be able to burst again. It should be this year I find out, with a fifth year angiogram if this is the case. If it’s not? I get to choose if I want more surgery or to leave it. I know what I am in preference to do, but it won’t be an agreeable choice with my Mother! At the moment I am in a blissful ignorance which I’d very much like to stay in. The thought of more surgery makes me feel sick. I did it once; I simply don’t feel I have the strength to do it all over again.

I may dip in and out of this as a topic as it’s still something I am working through, especially as there is no official outcome as yet. For years, whether they have known it was fake or not, people have seen me be flippant about having a haemorrhage. There’s still a large part of me that wants to carry on doing that because that’s the easier route. If I actually think about it, it freaks me out. It makes me feel anxious. But I am getting there; at least I see what a major event this was now. One day I will not feel like this and that’s really exciting. I really feel I am moving forward with everything and it’s literally the best feeling ever.

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