Thursday, August 21, 2014

There's a Picture of My Brain on the Milk Carton

I saw my neurologist last week. I have a new doctor, since my former brain tamer packed up and went off to Joplin. I might have gotten off with a renewed prescription for my medication, had a not asked, "Can you tell me why my sense of smell is so messed up?"

She stopped in her tracks. Game changer. More questions. More history to be taken. Yes, I smell smoke when nothing is burning. I love watermelon, but I have to smear scented cream all over my nose so I can eat it and not be deterred by the horrible smell. I opened a can of chili that smelled like mold. Canned salmon smells musty. Ick!

She ordered an MRI and an EEG...not just your plain old garden-variety EEG, but a sleep-deprived EEG. According to the instructions, this means I'm not supposed to sleep the night before. 

Yeah, right.

Sleep-deprivation is a big seizure trigger, so I guess this means they want me to come in full seizure mode. Oh, fun. At least I don't have tonic-clonic seizures (convulsions). I have temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), which has its own set of fun activities--like hallucinations. (Not all hallucinations are of the visual kind--they can also be distortions of smell, sound and feel. Mine stink--in more ways than one.)

I have to stay awake all night the night before so I'll sleep during the test. I'm going to lie on a hard table with electrodes attached to my scalp and go to sleep. Oh, fun.

Did I mention that there's a No Caffeine restriction for that night before? I don't like coffee, so that's no problem. I can skip tea for a night. But no chocolate? That's cruel and unusual punishment!

One patient suggested baking that night to stay awake. That would do the trick for me. Setting the kitchen on fire would keep everyone in the building awake all night!

My friend Carolyn suggested sitting up. That won't work. That's how I nap. Upright, leaning back against the couch. It's much more comfortable than it sounds.

According to the instructions, this is what I can expect:

  • You relax in a comfortable position with your eyes closed during the test. At various times, the technician may ask you to open and close your eyes, perform a few simple calculations, read a paragraph, look at a picture, breathe deeply (hyperventilate) for a few minutes, or look at a flashing light.

And I'm supposed to sleep? Isn't this all a bit contradictory?

Also in the instructions: Be sure to eat a good meal before the EEG. I can get on board with that. Can we stop at IHOP en route? 

  • Video is frequently recorded during the EEG. Your body motions are captured by a video camera while the EEG simultaneously records your brain waves. This combined recording may help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition.
 Does this mean it will be posted on YouTube?

And after all of this, I get to have an MRI. An OPEN MRI. No way would they get me to stick around for the other kind....

PS Hope you'll check out my works-in progress blogs, too: my memoir and Sam's Story over at Wordpress....


  1. What do you think they'll find in there? Your next manuscript, I hope.
    Good luck!

  2. Hey Norma. This all sounds like a lot and I'm sorry you're having a rough go. Hey, please send me an email when you get a chance. My old computer died and your address was on that one. Thanks and hugs.

  3. Gosh Norma good luck. I so sympathize with you !

    I have had so many MRI's something called an CRI(?) EEG's I am amazed I still have a head. The only way I got through one of the tunnel ones is I could have my knees up with a pillow underneath. as they shot iodine through my brain and blood vessels. I keep counting up to 100 so I wouldn't break out screaming. Yeah that one was fun. I But they did find lots of weird stuff in my head !
    Sorry your having a bad time but maybe you can think of a new chapter for your book ?

    Thinking of you
    cheers, parsnip

  4. That's going to be a long, long night for you. I was still surprised by your mention of smells as hallucinations.

  5. Oh, bummer. Good luck on them finding out what to do about it!

  6. You'll have to watch some of your action packed movies to keep you awake Norma.. hope all goes well.. sending many positive vibes from Perth.

  7. @ Eve: If they don't find anything, I'm going to draw something in....

    @ Ivy: I'll send it to you. Thanks!

    @ Gayle: I like to say the inside of my head's been seen more than I Love Lucy reruns. They want to see if my meds are working and find out with the MRI if I had a stroke.

    @ William: The new meds the doctor just gave me make me sleep. This isn't going to work.

    @ Lorelei: I'm counting on no surprises!

    @ Grace: I don't think even that will work! (Good vibes are always appreciated.)

  8. Wow Norma. That's bizarre. Good thing it's the open MRI. Ugh the others are just awful.

    Wishing you best of luck with it!

  9. Oh my goodness! :-( How'd it all go? Sending you lots of healing hugs and positive vibes. Take care

  10. @ PK: I have a really nasty case of claustrophobia. They had to do an open MRI--or knock me out. When I had surgery 14 years ago, I woke up in restraints. The doctor said I was out, but still kept pulling the oxygen mask off.

    @ Old Kitty: Thanks! Haven't had it yet. It's scheduled for the 17th.

  11. Thanks. Got it. I'm still playing catchup on the blogs and stuff.


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