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Of Concussive Faintings

Posted by on March 27, 2010 in IL-2, Medical Procedures and Other Drugs, My Health Updates - No comments

fainterIf you are anything like me, you live in constant fear of your wife braining you with a lead pipe when you’re not looking. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and see Dena standing over me, lost in thought and absently tapping against her palm some kind of metal rod that looks like it came from our sprinkler system. So you may understand my fear when, the other day, I passed out cold, dropping to the tile floor in our bathroom and cracking my head pretty good. Since I had blacked out and don’t remember much before the crack to my skull, in my disorientation immediately after coming to, it was easy to assume that Dena finally went berserk. She denies everything.

I am legend at three different medical facilities now – George Washington University’s oncology facility, Duke University’s oncology facility and, now, the National Institutes of Health. But at least with these incidents there were obvious reasons for getting faint – nurses with steak-knives coming at me to draw blood for “labs.” This latest incident has no obvious explanation.

Of course, with the whole cancer thing, we immediately freaked out that it must be a sign of a brain tumor. After we calmed down, we realized that was highly unlikely considering I just had a brain MRI a month or so ago showing that my brain was clean. (Well, perhaps clean isn’t the correct description, but it was free of tumors.) And I’ve been more or less under constant medical monitoring for the past month while undergoing treatments at Duke.

So while I’m sitting on the chair in our living room with a big kitchen pot in front of me as I felt I might hurl at any moment, Dena is telling me over and over that we need to go to the emergency room, that people don’t collapse for no reason and that I probably have a concussion. I’m groggy and still faint and all I can say to her is: “Would you just let me sit here and puke, please?”

Dena tells me to put my head down between my legs. What, did she think we were on a plane going down?

“It’s to help with the nausea, you idiot.”

Then she goes off and starts calling some of our friends who are nurses, including our neighbor Kim who is an emergency room nurse. After various conversations we concluded that the nausea was of concern, but it was slowly fading, and the fact that I wasn’t still disoriented suggested that there was no concussion. Of course such conclusions were always followed by, “Still, you should go the emergency room and make sure.”

By this time both Dena and I are both calmed down and set in our ways: Screw the emergency room. We’re on a little holiday from hospitals and MRIs and needles. So Dena sticks around the house for a few hours to make sure all is well and then heads off to work; I stay home to let the stinging wear off.

And then Mom calls.

She is on the warpath. What the hell was I thinking not going to the emergency room? Did she raise an imbecile for a son?  Had I not heard of Natasha Richardson? Did I want to end up like that Hollywood actress – get a bump on the head and ignore it and next thing you know you’re dead?

I dodge. I weave. But, but, but …

She’s not having it. She threatens to get me on the phone with my cousin Sandra, also a nurse. My headache is coming back. I’m looking for some of those pills the doctors had given me in the hospital. Or a stiff bourbon on the rocks.

Finally Mom relents. I’m just worried, she says, you don’t know whether you might have internal bleeding. And then: “If this happens again I hope you’ll use better judgment.”

Ah, Mom. You know better than that. Good judgment is not my calling.

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