I spent the last week (May 26-30) in a set of tests related to my TBI and seizures. I still have problems with thinking ahead, language, and stress tolerance. It takes a long time to totally come down when angry. Two days of neuropsych testing focused on finding out just how much my processing skills were impacted. The third day was a repeat of an EEG and and a MRI with contrast. I met with the epilepsy specialist on the last day.
I survived two days of neuropsych testing. I spent the most part of two days in a total state of pissed off. It was a graphic illustration of what I can’t do anymore. It was incredibly frustrating as I remembered that I used to be able to do the tasks easily. I muttered enough f-bombs to annihilate a couple churches, broke a pencil in half, totally destroyed my room key, and broke a pencil in half. I also kicked a wall hard enough to bruise my foot during a break. I think the toenail is not long for the world. At least I didn’t try to knock the tester across the room. I really wanted to. I totally withdrew from him. I didn’t keep eye contact because I was so angry at him. It’s easier not to engage much. I’m worried about the report he is writing.
On the third day, I had a sleep deprived EEG and a full contrast MRI.
The EEG was sleep deprived because fatigue sometimes lowers the seizure threshold. I was hooked up to 12 probes, including a heart rate monitor. The gunk that holds the probes in place really itched after a while. First, lights are flashed at various speeds, brightness, and patterns. Then, you’re told to go to sleep, on command. Right. I was awake the whole time. The test was in a quiet room with soft music playing. They try to make it as calm and relaxing as possible.
The MRI uses magnetic fields to take “slices” of the brain. The contrast helps make the pictures more clear. It is loud and you are held still by packing around your head and a piece that comes down over your chest, face, and head. Prior to the test, they screen you for any metal in or on your body. The magnet in the machine is so strong that it can move metal fragments in your body, damage pacemakers, and other metal. The tech asked about earrings but wasn’t specific about all jewelry. Since I wear my religious symbol tucked in my shirt to prevent people from reacting negatively, I forgot I was wearing one with a copper thing to hold one of the charms in place. I think very concretely. He didn’t ask about a necklace. The test started. About 15 minutes later, we had to stop because it was warming up. The stop happened at a bad time, in the middle of one of the testing runs. They had to take me out and remove the necklace. They found the offending charm and metal hook and removed it from where it was stuck on the side of the machine. Unfortunately, the test did not restart. I broke an MRI. Not really- they rebooted it. Then, back in I went. A few minutes later, they pulled me out to put the contrast in through the IV port. The MRI is much louder and cramped. I fell asleep in the MRI the last 20 minutes. I think the slight pressure of things they use to keep your head from moving were comforting. I felt safer and more relaxed.
I was exhausted after these tests. My sister and I stopped by Big 5 to look for a pair of shoes that she needed. This Sogn does not read “Assorted Beanie Boobs..” Fatigue does weird things or I just have a naturally dirty mind.
On the final day, I met with the epilepsy specialist to get results. My EEG was clean, a common finding even with seizure patients. They only pick up activity near the surface of the brain if there is a seizure happening or is about to happen. Even then, if the focal point is deep in the brain, it won’t show. For some patients, a multiple day EEG is done in the Hosptial to try to catch one. My MRI showed areas of scar tissue. They are too small to try to remove. He thinks there may be damage deeper in the brain where our current MRIs can’t reach that may be causing some of the other problems. They aren’t something to be concerned about.
The neurologist conducted a physical exam of neurological function. Even here, my literal mindedness showed up. Just after we talked about how the injury impacted my running (lack of endurance and sensory tolerance) he mentioned something about it being all psychological. Really? He quickly explained that anyone who runs a marathon must have a psychological problem. Then I understood the joke. He took the time to identify how I functioned before the accident, what changed after, and how I was adapting (or not). He was really supportive and listened. We talked at the end about the results of the tests and what other treatments are recommended. He is satified with my treatment regime. My dose of Lamotrigine can still be raised if needed.
Overall, I think the tests went well. My past MRIs were always read as “clear.” In an odd way, it felt good to have something actually show up indicating an injury. Maybe they can find something to help.