Have you ever had brain surgery before?

Today I received a paycheck. I haven’t had one of those in two months. I have been keeping my house afloat on $900 in disability payments (and denied the last $450 I was entitled to because the absence management company keeps losing the fax), savings and credit cards.

In two hours I will be leaving to drive over to my hand specialist/orthopedic surgeon about my sprained pinky. Despite the therapy, despite the time that has elapsed, it’s still tender, doesn’t bend all the way and has a rather distorted knuckle. Monday is my first appointment with my cardiologist.

My heart rate has been normal most of this week. But yesterday was a little rough– heart rate variations and fatigue throughout the day. I had a lot of muscular pain in my right hip, which extended into my back and quad, and worked overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy. So, I ate a lot of snacks, took ibuprofen, drank a lot of water, and ate my sorrow in the form of about 2,000 calories of burger, onion rings and blizzard at Dairy Queen.

My boss asked me if anything had changed to cause my discomfort. And as usual, Angel hadn’t changed one thing but several. I had worked hard the day before and perhaps I overdid it, because I had been behind in my numbers. Then, I went to the chiropractor, and when she touched me, it felt different. She often has to do things to my legs I don’t understand, but that right hip often feels like my pelvic bone is at the wrong angle. And when she touched it, the way she does every week, it burned instead of ached.

After the chiropractor, I went to the gym. And Andrew subjected me to leg-and-core day. Because he loves me.

I had a nice dinner after that of kale, potatoes and chicken. And I was in bed by 8 p.m. (Don’t judge me! I wake at 4 a.m.) At a minute or two before 9, I had to use the bathroom. And these days, I can’t take my chances. For some reason, I can’t always hold it. I have some retrolisthesis, and there is some theorizing that it might press on a nerve occasionally that interrupts that signal.

I stumbled from my bed, entered the bathroom, and next thing I knew I was kissing my ceramic tile and my Apple Watch was having a tantrum on my wrist. The Teenager ran up the stairs.

“Mom, are you okay?”

The shower shelf had started to fall off the wall earlier in the day. I had decided to be proactive and I removed it. I set it against the bathroom wall to rehang. In my evening stupor, I did not have my glasses on. The pale silver shelf blended in with the beige tile and I stepped right on the damn thing.

“Mom?” the Teenager said. “Why is your watch freaking out?”

Apple Fall Detection has received some mixed reviews. But this time it nailed it. My watch progressively buzzed until I looked at the screen and responded to it.

“It looks like you have taken a hard fall.”

And there were two options. “I’m okay.” And a big red emergency button. I hit “I’m okay.”

That’s how I went from 50 days without a fall to one. Sigh.

In the last of the medical update, I’ve been receiving a lot of repeated phone calls that never leave messages. So, I answered one yesterday that looked like an important phone number. And it was 11:22, so close enough to work lunch that I could step off the floor if I needed to,

It was the neurosurgeon. My neurologist had told me she was going to refer me to neurovascular to have my aneurysm checked. Apparently, they call you and ask your symptoms so the doctor can decide if your head is going to explode and if he needs to see you tomorrow versus in a couple months. So, I answered her questions.

“Have you ever had brain surgery before?”

Oh, I don’t intend to have brain surgery at all, I think. “No.”

“Do you have any allergies to the dye used in MRIs or CTs?”

“No,” I said. “I just had my first CT with contrast and tolerated the dye well. But I have a tooth implant, so an MRI might be out of the question.”

(Which is a shame as I would love to see my brain via an fMRI.)

Questions about my symptoms. Headaches? Yes. Vision trouble? Not really. Weak arms? No. But I have a tingling pinky no one can explain. Lightheadedness or dizziness? Yes, but we attributed that to low blood pressure and side effects of the beta blocker. Slurring words? Not slurring, but completely losing. But I have a history of anemia. Incontinence? Lately, yes.

“Do you have difficulty walking?”

I chuckled. “That’s loaded question. I have cerebral palsy.”

“Oh, let me write that down for the doctor.”

“Spastic diplegia if you want to be specific,” I told her.

“When did your symptoms start?”


I told her they found the aneurysm after a CT scan meant to check if blood wasn’t getting to my brain properly after my second fall in March landed me in the hospital. And here we are.

I need this weekend. Badly. And I’ll be taking Nan, my blind friend the space nerd, to Lehigh Valley Space Fest on Sunday.

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