This has been a big week for me with tests and doctors. I had three magnetic resonance images taken on Monday, MRA’s they are called, to examine the blood vessels in my head and neck. And then I had back to back appointments with the Neurologist and the Cardiologist. I called my primary physician in the morning to see if they had received any results from the MRA’s, but they had not. I had to hear it from the Neurologist.
Dr. Bruce Kohrman is the Neurologist. What a pro. It turns out that he saw me in 2006 when I suffered a very intense migraine, which I remember, because I lost my ability to speak with that one. I could not access my vocabulary. It was like all the words I knew were in a book that I could not open. Dr. Kohrman had uncovered a record of his notes of my previous visit.
He reported that the MRA images showed no signs of any arterial disease at all, and no sign of any blockage of any blood vessels in my brain. He said based on these findings, it looks like the “infarction’ or “starvation of oxygen” was actually most likely the result of a very intense spasm in a blood vessel that was severe enough to crimp off the blood supply for long enough to cause the brain damage that the first MRI revealed.
So, yes, I had a “stroke” which is “brain ischemia,” which means part of my brain was starved of oxygen for a long enough period to cause cell death. Most ischemic events in the brain are the result of a blood clot in one of the arteries of the brain, which I do not have. Instead, the reduction in blood flow in my brain was caused by the spasm of a blood vessel, which is the root cause of the migraine.
It turns out that strokes without brain bleeds are not painful. My first symptom was the intense pain of a migraine. Dr. Kohrman posited that it might be possible that I had a stroke at the same time I had a migraine, but there is no evidence of any blockage of any blood vessel.
So basically, I am perfectly healthy, except that I got struck by lightning, and that caused brain damage.
“Let me give you my cell phone number, and have the Cardiologist call me.” He handed me his business card with his cell phone number written on it. I was stunned! When was the last time a high level doctor just handed you his cell phone number?
I went up to the Fourth floor of the medical building by South Miami Hospital after the Neurologist appointment, and checked in early with the cardiologist. The card was missing from my pocket! How could I lose it? I checked through every pocket and every paper in my backpack and my wallet. The nurse practitioner called my name while I had all of my stuff strewn around (brain damage), no card.
“If you could get the neurologist’s number, that would help a lot” she said. I went back downstairs and found the card on the floor upside down by the check out station in Dr. Kohrman’s office. I retrieved it and hurried back upstairs. They asked me to wait for a few minutes while the cardiologist phoned Dr. Kohrman, and then he saw me.
He was really surprised. Here I was, perfectly healthy but with permanent brain damage caused by a really bad headache. It is exceedingly rare for a migraine to cause permanent brain damage, but wow, here’s a case! Everyone talks about how this can happen, but he’s never seen a case of it. Nor had Dr. Kohrman.
“The standard for a PFO Closure is when a person under 60 has a stroke and is found to have a PFO with no other explanation for the cause of the stroke, but in your case, it was coupled with a Migraine, so there is no reason to believe that your PFO had anything to do with your condition.”
In fact, he said, he was not even sure that I have a PFO at all. Usually the air bubbles go right through the hole, but in my case, they appear in the other atrium after a few beats of the heart, which indicates that the bubbles might be returning from the pulmonary vein into the arterial side of the heart.
My entire condition is disappearing. No vascular disease, no blood clot, no blockage. Just brain damage from a headache.
Before all my appointments, I went and picked up my bike. I realized that it’s been two and a half years since we moved into this house, and my bike has never been here. It’s here now, and it sure makes it easier to get around the neighborhood! I’m going to ride to my workout at noon.
And on Friday, I signed up for a driving lesson in a car that has dual controls. I will spend a couple hours driving around with an instructor in the passenger seat who can take over if I make an error. This will give me the chance to practice my driving without putting anyone in danger.
I think with a little practice, I will be able to drive safely. I just don’t want to put anyone else at risk while I figure it out. So after driving for 39 years (my first car was a stick shift), and having my pilot’s license and plenty of expertise with boats, from small sailboats, to high powered multi engine boats, to our 50 foot sailboat, I’m going to be in “Caution–Student Driver” car. I have always been a nut for driving. Having to sit in the passenger seat for the rest of my life might be my reality, but I’m not going to just accept that without trying to do better.
So no blood clot, no heart procedure, no blood thinners, no passenger seat.
My first inclination may just be right. Dr. Kohrman’s role in this is to witness the miracle.
Love to all who read this. thank you.
Schmarya Space Shalom