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Well,  I didn't actually have a stroke, it was TIA (Transient ischemic attack). It is important to you because TIAs are very often the first warning of a stroke to come.  Jump with me and I will tell you how my world turned upside down 6AM Monday morning and why having a great Doctor and great insurance can save your life.

I woke up at 6 am so disoriented I didn't know what day it was, if I needed to go to work, if I was on our planned vacation or just exactly where I was. I stood up, immediately wet myself and nearly fell down. I was so dizzy I couldn't walk without staggering wildly. Fortunately my bedroom is crammed with furniture and I managed to fall into a chair and stagger into the bathroom. I sat there for at least 20 minutes trying to gain my bearings. There was literally nothing in my head, all I could think is whats wrong, is this a dream. It was like I was unconscious but awake. No thoughts of what I had to do or had done the day before, just a great big nothing.

I was reasonably sure I was in my own home, but still not clear on the day. I felt so horrible I decided to go back to bed until 7:30 and then call in absent. When I laid down on my bed and closed my eyes the spinning was so bad it felt like I was going to spin off the earth into space. The next thing I remember was the alarm at 7:45. I got up and wasn't as dizzy, still mighty unsteady but able to get where I needed to be hanging on to things.

My TV was on, it was Morning Joe, clearly it was a weekday. I went to my computer and finally figured out which icon was my calendar. I tried to call in to tell them I wasn't coming in, but the phone defeated me, I was sure I dialed right but I hadn't, it was like my index finger was possessed.

The very fact I was significantly better, there was now something in my head altho it mostly made no sense it made me think I didn't need to go to the hospital. I thought about it and woke up my youngest son Bill, skippythebox's brother. Told him I thought I might need to go to the ER and didn't think I was safe to drive myself and calling 911 was silly.

He came down stairs just sort of stared at me. Mom, you are shouting and are you dizzy? Well, yes and yes. I told him what had happened earlier. I was still not sure I wanted to go, or even needed to go. What changed my mind was checking my bank account online. I couldn't log in correctly and had to call the bank to get me back in. It took the bank 15 minutes to get me squared away walking me thru each step me not being able to retain my account number or the temp password. The password really was a problem I could remember the first two numbers and the last two but not the middle numbers. Later during ER intake I was able to repeat the 6 numbers to them. 081944 my BIRTHDAY, my freaking birthday and I didn't recognize it.

They checked me over in the ER and decided since I had taken 30 mg of Baclofen the day before it was a drug overdose. I used to take it everyday, 60 mg so I was pretty sure something I had taken the previous morning wasn't the issue.

My Doctor got there and examined me, I had been examined by about 15 new recruits they thought they found a deficit on my right side. He didn't believe it was an overdose. He reexamined me and found a down beat nystagmus in my left eye. A nystagmus is the product of damage to the vestibular system or your cerebellum.

Something had happened in my head. He checked me in and they did a quick CAT scan of my head. I went to my room and got on my laptop, first thing I did was try to post on KOS.

I would like to thank the spelling police and you know who you are, LOL for not giving me a hard time. It was ugly. The nurses were really just babysitting me, so in addition to monitoring my heart and BP for my doctor the rest of the time they spent playing with other equipment, using me for their test subject. It's a teaching hospital and I never mind because it helps make better doctors. When they ran out of tests we played salad roulette jeopardy. they would ask me a question and I would say the first thing that popped into my head. First President of the United States, Space Needle. You get the idea.

The next morning I had regular and contrast MRI's on my head and neck. Ultrasound of my neck. An echo cardiogram that took more than an hour. They (the operator and a cardiologist checked every artery, every large vein, every valve, every nook and cranny of my heart, my vital organs looking for any problem.

The good news is they found nothing and I am in fantastic shape for my age, more like half my age. No clogs, no plaque, no clots and a heart that is very strong.

My doctor could have taken the ER attending's diagnosis but he didn't. And he knew how important this could be for my future well being. He left NOTHING to chance. He gave me a real gift by not blowing it off. Had there been a problem he would have been on top of it and with any luck could have helped me avoid a full blown stroke. the bill will probably be close to $20,000 my insurance will pay it without complaint.

That is why if you have ever had an episode like mine even if it is not as dramatic, or the symptoms go away real fast, which in most people they do, PLEASE go to the ER. If you do this you may never have to worry about the "golden 5 hours". Thousands of strokes could be avoided every year if people took these episodes seriously.

PS It has taken me nearly four hours to type this, trying to make it perfect. Not bad for someone who could touch type before at a pretty good clip. If it isn't perfect be gentle:)

Originally posted to snackdoodle on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:54 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wowee--thanks for posting this (18+ / 0-)

    Careful out there, everybody.  It's never silly to call 911 if you're feeling like that.

    Change TX-32, Change the Nation. Send Democrat Grier Raggio to Congress.

    by CoolOnion on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:00:06 PM PDT

  •  (((snackdoodle))) (12+ / 0-)

    Healing thoughts and prayers.  Thank you for this diary.

    Our shore birds; our turtles and fish. Please consider a donation to the National Wildlife Federation to help them.

    by noweasels on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:15:00 PM PDT

  •  Doesn't a Truly Transient T-I-A Go Away Almost (10+ / 0-)

    immediately? If you have symptoms that may take several weeks to clear, ask your doctor but it might be a small amount of real permanent damage that isn't so much healing but rather your brain is rewiring itself to recreate little bits of lost function.

    I have 2 people in my immediate family dealing with these issues so I've seen various kinds of brain scans and watched doctors advising the people on how to rearrange diets and other life aspects.

    I don't know if you play a musical instrument, but I've seen discussion to the effect that repairing deficits from these kinds of incidents resembles learning an instrument in that more practice, not necessarily at one stretch but several more times per day helps bring your system along.

    Anyway best wishes and thanks for sharing. And let's work toward everyone having the quality of care givers you had!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:21:54 PM PDT

    •  Most people have their symptoms go away (10+ / 0-)

      within a day sometimes hours. But there is a range of TIAs, it gets labeled a TIA because no bleed or clot or evidence of damage was found. There are people who are symptomatic longer, but almost never for very long. Like I said, if I didn't have to function at such a high level for my job I could probably go back to work with a walker for the vertigo.

      I found out the first day, the harder I tried to remember something the less likely I would. It is like if my brain was a hard drive, the directory is trashed. The information is there but finding it is the problem. My once pretty good touch typing skills are hit and miss, but I keep at it. KOS is good because I can come and post, go do something else comeback later.

      I don't know if it is the right way to do it, but I am just sort of going with the flow, trying not to put a lot of pressure on myself to progress at a certain rate. Just keep at it everyday.

      •  I'm a speech-language pathologist and. . . (6+ / 0-)

        I can tell you for a verified fact that sometimes people with actual strokes and obvious paralysis and who end up not being able to read or write have scans that show NOTHING happened.  I have a patient right now that this occurred with and the first neurologist who did the scans tried to write some nonsense about her symptoms being "psychogenic."  Her family doctor sent her to a different neurologist who told her that damage is not always identifiable and that she clearly had a stroke regardless of whether they could find evidence of it or not.  So be aware and watch your symptoms carefully as I find that people often underestimate their cognitive limitations.  

        You are on the right track with your approach. I have been recently been working with someone with similar patterns, although he had an identifiable stroke with a clot from a heart attack that went through the cerebellum.  

        Some things that have helped (and some of these he pooh-poohed at first and didn't think he needed to try):  hemi-sync music (Monroe Institute) during scheduled relaxation breaks, use of a variety of memory aids, regular schedule of cognitively challenging tasks (either functional things like writing your blogs or more structured drill tasks like Aphasia Tutor Direction-Following software, online brain-stim games such as Posit Science), frequent rest breaks, reducing background noise/distractions, high quality Omega 3 such as Omega Brite (must check with doctor as these thin your blood somewhat).  For awhile he wrote with his non-dominant hand to slow himself down so he wouldn't make so many spelling errors and deletions of grammatical markers (little words like prepositions and articles).  The other patient referenced earlier has been using an iPad to help with many many things from scheduling to enlarging print enough to make it easier for her to read to cueing herself when she can't recall a word.  

        A tip from another SLP who had a stroke that she gave at the last stroke support group meeting--she found she couldn't handle doing two keys at once on the keyboard like shift/letter for capital or ctrl/alt/delete and she found you can turn on a computer function so that you can do those keys sequentially rather than simultaneously.

        If you continue to have some persisting problems an evaluation from an SLP for cognition can sometimes be helpful and they can be a good source of ideas/strategies.

        •  Thank you for the information (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek
        •  background re. Monroe Institute & hemi-sync (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes, snackdoodle, GrumpyOldGeek

          Speaking here from having used some of their music tracks for relaxation and concentration (yes, it works well), and having replicated some of their more interesting findings by using my own audio equipment to produce soundtracks using their technical principles.  

          I was surprised to see this at the top of your list here on DKos because Monroe tends to be associated with the alternative medicine spectrum, alongside meditation and biofeedback and so on.  

          I'm interested in how this is being used by stroke patients, so anything else you can say about that would be appreciated.  

          Here's the background:

          Monroe Institute was founded for the purpose of researching the EEG correlates of certain types of altered states of consciousness, with the goal of being able to reliably induce those states under controlled conditions in the lab.  

          Long story short, they found that the body's internal rhythmic processes tend to naturally track various types of rhythmic stimuli in the environment (for example music with a fast beat will tend to increase your heart rate).  This is part of the reason why dancing, drumming, chanting, and so on, are enjoyable, and are used in meditation and in certain kinds of religious rituals.  

          In particular, the brain tracks rhythms that are within the range of EEG frequencies: 0 - 28 Hz was the known range at the time Monroe Institute was founded; today we recognize EEG frequencies up to 60 Hz and above.

          The problem is, the human hearing range begins at the middle to upper end of the EEG frequency range (starting at about 20 Hz.), and a lot of interesting mental activity occurs in conjunction with slower brain waves such as in the 3 - 7 Hz. range.  To compound the task further, some of the more interesting states of consciousness they were trying to study, involve activity in multiple ranges of frequencies in different parts of the brain.  So this is not quite as simple as producing a soundtrack with drumming or whatnot.  

          Monroe hit on the idea of using binaural beat frequencies.  For example you put a tone in the left ear at 440 Hz. (the note "A" on the regular musical scale), and a "de-tuned A" at 446 Hz. in the right ear, via stereo headphones.  

          What happens is that the audio processing in the two hemispheres of the brain interacts in a manner such that the difference between the two tones (in this case 6 Hz) is heard as a subtle wavering sound that sounds as if it's "in the middle of your head."  

          And lo & behold, your brain starts to track the frequency, and the amount of 6 Hz. EEG activity increases, and you start to feel a change in your state of consciousness (in this case, 6 Hz is in the range that correlates with a deeply relaxed state with occasional dream-like imagery).  As it turns out, the effect on the EEG is more pronounced than when stimuli such as drumming are used, that each hemisphere in the brain can process independently.  

          Also, the activity in both hemispheres of the brain tends to become somewhat more synchronous, which correlates with improved attention on certain kinds of tasks.  This is the basis for their tradename "hemi-sync":  increased synchronization in the activity of the two hemispheres.  

          All of this was well-documented and published in the peer-reviewed literature.  

          And by using multiple sets of de-tuned frequencies, you can gently nudge the brain into producing activity in multiple frequency ranges at the same time (your brain ordinarily does this, but not in a coherent manner unless you've been practicing meditation).  For example, 300 Hz + 304 Hz produces a beat frequency at 4 Hz, characteristic of deep relaxation with visual imagery; and 400 Hz plus 420 Hz. produces a beat frequency of 20 Hz, characteristic of feeling awake and alert.  The combination of both sets of tones, can produce a state of being simultaneously relaxed and alert, which is one of the states they were trying to study.  

          In time they took a bunch of their research results and produced audio programs consisting of music plus embedded binaural beat frequency tracks.  These became the basis for the relaxation tapes that were popular for a while, and that spawned a lot of other organizations and artists producing similar material (Monroe copyrights their specific programs, but they've basically open-sourced the underlying technique by publishing in the open literature).  They sell these to the public on CDs, and the income funds their ongoing research activity.  

          Some of their marketing materials come off as new-agey, because new-agers are a big market for their CDs.   But the science behind this stuff is well-established (EEG tracking of binaural beats has been replicated more than once).   And some of their CDs are geared to the kinds of mental activity that are helpful for people going through certain types of learning processes or health-related issues.  

          When I was experimenting with the techniques, I made my own audio tapes that were designed to nudge the listener into the 3 - 6 Hz. range.  And as expected, friends who listened to them reported feeling deeply relaxed and seeing occasional dreamlike visual imagery. This was highly interesting and it was repeatable.  And once a person learns to access a desired state of consciousness this way, over time it becomes easier for them to do it without need of the audio tapes.

          So that's the scoop on how this stuff works.  And anyone with audio production skills can replicate it independently.    

          •  Tuning forks for the brain? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, snackdoodle

            This was my first thought.
            I have been aware of various experiments and theories about synchronizing sound with brain waves over the years but I didn't know about the Monroe Institute at all. Thanks for the background.

            It has been known since early times that "music soothes the savage beast", for example. Music theorists have studied the details for what seems like forever. Why are some musical combinations pleasant or soothing and others annoying or unpleasant? Much study has been done on correlating the beat frequencies with brain wave activity in the context of music theory. I haven't studied the details at all. I'm simply aware that these ideas have been studied.

            I want to add the idea that such techniques should never be used for treatment of stroke or brain injury without proper medical supervision or used independently as self-treatment. This can backfire big time. These techniques were studied on people without brain injury or certain specific minimal injury. Since brain injury affects everyone differently, some treatments can prevent other, more effective treatments from working at all.

            Just because a treatment seems to benefit one person, the same treatment can invoke serious secondary consequences in others. Seizures and secondary TIA's, for example. Never treat a stroke victim without seeking appropriate medical advice.

            "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

            by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 04:32:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  music theory, psychoacoustics, medical stuff (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snackdoodle, GrumpyOldGeek

              I agree, people should not attempt to self-medicate or self-treat for illness, particularly where potentially disabling or life-threatening conditions are concerned.  That's why I deliberately stayed away from medical stuff in the above posting and stuck to the topic of exploration of states of consciousness in normal subjects.  

              The vast majority of Monroe's stuff is aimed toward persons in normal health who are interested in relaxation, concentration, attention, and safe exploration of altered states of the types normally encountered with other nondrug techniques.  For persons in normal health, that kind of self-experimentation is safe, as with meditation, self-hypnosis, breathing exercises such as found in yoga, and so on.  

              One thing I have always told people in the context of exploration of states of consciousness, is to never take the content of unusual experiences as literally true ("psychedelic fundamentalism"), but always check and cross-check while in at least two other states from within one's normal range (e.g. morning mood, evening mood, "sleep on it", reflect on it, etc.).  

              Re. psychoacoustics: Very interesting that this stuff has been explored in music theory.  The psychological effects of music are complex and also entail emotional effects associated with melody, rhythm, the tone combinations in chords, the nonverbal emotional content of human voice, and the verbal content of lyrics of songs.  

              If you have any references or leads on studies from within music theory, of the effects of music on the brain, I would be most interested to know.    

              •  I've been reading this an it is interesting (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek, GrumpyOldGeek

                my favorite relaxation sounds are humpback whales. My favorite set of head phones are a zillion years old but they put the sound in the center of your head, it then becomes almost a full body experience.

                •  I'm annoyed by whale calls (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek, snackdoodle

                  Recently, a local Chorale did a "nature" concert accompanied by whale sounds. Most of the people liked it. Several got up and left. I didn't. My wife was singing.

                  I'm a bit more sensitive than most when music is slightly out of tune. Hair raising, if I had hair. I get goose bumps. Really. I know others who are completely tone deaf. Hillary Clinton comes to mind.

                  I really enjoy music. Certain styles and songs bring unending tears to my eyes. Good tears. For a few years, I avoided concerts due to my embarrassing affliction. I got over it.

                  So, yeah. Music certainly affects my mood. Mostly in a positive direction.

                  "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

                  by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 01:21:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  LOL, the recording I use is a copy of a throw (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    G2geek

                    away disk that came in my National Geographic a very very long time ago. I can't carry a tune but I am sensitive to out of tune. This bunch of humpbacks are definitely in tune.

                  •  out of tune = (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    snackdoodle, GrumpyOldGeek

                    You have good ears for pitch.

                    BTW, one thing I found when experimenting with the DIY version of EEG frequency following response tapes, was that musicians reported that certain combinations gave them headaches.  Yet the same tapes played for people who were not musicians, produced the intended results.  

                  •  about Hillary Clinton: (3+ / 0-)

                    Unfortunately her voice has some "odd (as in odd-number) harmonics" in it, which makes it sound harsh when she speaks in a loud voice.  

                    I am certain that this was detrimental to her Presidential campaign.

                    What she needs to do when speaking to large live audiences, is have the sound engineer turn up the gain on her mic to a higher than normal level, and not use a dynamic range compressor.  This way she will be able to speak at a lower volume level, still be able to raise her voice slightly to add emphasis, and thereby avoid the louder speaking voice that brings out the odd harmonics.

                    If there is a concern about feedback, put the entire signal from her mic through a pitch shifter that's set for -1.0 Hz (reduce pitch by 1 Hz.), which will prevent feedback at any reasonable gain & volume level.  

                    (Recording studio and live audio experience here.)

                    •  I was remembering the Star Spangled Banner (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      snackdoodle

                      The microphone was open once when she attempted to sing the national anthem. It was painful. It was so bad, it made the news. No sense of pitch whatsoever. This influences the way she uses her voice for sure.

                      As for freeware signal generators, I recall seeing a few in the early years of the PC. Searching...

                      "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

                      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 08:39:55 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  whales and headphones (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  snackdoodle

                  You find whale sounds relaxing, Grumpy finds them annoying per his/her next reply.  The same thing occurs with music, where one person likes a certain style and another doesn't, and parents always tell their kids "turn down that noise!":-)

                  If I happen to hear modern rap and 60s rock in proximity to each other, the obvious comparison I always notice is that rap has an incredible rhythmic sophistication but a relatively limited tonal range, and 60s rock is rhythmically simple but has a lot of tonal complexity.  Someone raised with either one of those styles of music alone, might regard the other music as alien and hard to relate to.  

                  I'm not familiar enough with whale sounds to be able to run an eidetic soundtrack of them in my head, so I don't know what it is about them that is particularly relaxing for you.  But in any case Grumpy wrote about planning for periods of relaxation as part of your healing process, and your doctor can advise on the specifics for your situation.  So if whale sounds do it for you, you're already ahead of the game there.  

                •  oh, i forgot about the headphones... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  snackdoodle

                  Oldschool headphones typically have earmuffs that surround the ears and isolate the listener from outside sounds, so the music comes through more clearly and powerfully than with these modern abominations that people stick in their ears (and hopefully sanitize from time to time!).  

                  And another benefit of oldschool headphones is that isolation from background noise means you don't have to turn up the volume nearly as loud, so you can listen at levels that are better for the long-term health of your hearing.

                  BTW, Panasonic is still producing what are now called "retro style" headphones, so if your old ones ever give up the ghost, there's an affordable replacement available.  

                  •  thanks because they have to be 40 plus years old (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    G2geek

                    good friend brought them to me when he came home from Vietnam. You are right about no having to turn the sound up so high your ears suffer. The sound suffers to lots of times too when things get cranked up to far. I feel like I leave my body. anyway thanks for letting me know another old school headphone is available.

              •  I remember reading a few articles (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek, snackdoodle

                many years ago. Probably in Scientific American, so the deeper details wouldn't have been in those articles. This was long before PET scan studies were available, I'm sure. Now you've got me searching...

                "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

                by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 01:08:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  all of those studies were done... (3+ / 0-)

                  .... when EEG was the only tool available.  When I did a case study on a young guy who was able to self-induce certain interesting states of consciousness on demand, the only tool we had was EEG, but we had 33 channels, which was made possible by new (at the time) computer-based EEG equipment.

                  It wouldn't surprise me if Monroe Institute had an arrangement with a local hospital to use its PET scanner occasionally in their research program.

                  Playing with brains is fun, wish I could get paid to do that:-)

                  Yeah, I'm going to go searching also.  

                  Keywords/phrases:  "audio entrainment," "EEG entrainment," "frequency-following response,"  "FFR," and similar.  

                  It would be interesting if there were freeware programs for Mac, Windows, and Linux, that enabled doing nothing more than combinations of pure sine wave tones at specific frequencies and different volume levels and positions in the stereo sound field.  That would enable producing FFR recordings much more accurately than I did back in the day when the tools were analog sine wave generators and frequency counters.  

                  Speaking of playing with brains, here's another thing to do a search on:

                  Michael J. Persinger's stuff on the use of electromagnetic entrainment of EEG response in the right temporal lobe.   Many papers, published in the journal Perception and Motor Skills.   I read 'em all back in the early 90s.  

                  Very very interesting stuff, and also (my hypothesis here) a possible treatment for the kind of "concrete thinking" that characterizes religious fundamentalism (literalism).  The keyphrase to search relevant to that is "verbal substitution behavior."  You'll probably be able to reason out the connection, or if not, ask and I'll write another too-long reply:-)

          •  So what if you are deaf in one ear? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, snackdoodle

            I guess I wouldn't benefit from this. Also I am not good at meditating.

            I'm stuck with this defective brain.

            I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... I'm asking you to believe in yours. Barack Obama

            by samddobermann on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 02:30:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  your brain isn't defective, and about meditation: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snackdoodle

              Hearing loss on one side is a well-known disability, and it's perceptual rather than cognitive (e.g. someone who is blind in one eye still retains the normal ability to understand visual inputs with their other eye).  

              What usually happens is that if it's the ear that the person favored for verbal input (the side they held a phone on), their brain will rewire to process verbal audio from the other ear.

              I'm dyslexic, which means my verbal center isn't one large region in one part of my brain as it is with neuro-normals.  Instead it's distributed into four smaller areas at approximately the four corners of my brain.  

              Almost every disability has its workarounds, and in most cases has some advantages that a person will discover over time.  

              Re. meditation:  

              Meditation is basically a deliberate and specific self-directed change in the focus of attention for a specified period of time.  (Contrast to hypnosis, which uses multiple shifts of attention, typically from communication with another person, to induce an altered state.)  

              Everyone is capable of directing their attention toward a deliberate object of focus.  Different techniques work for different people, and everyone is different in how long it takes before they start to notice improvements in their mental functioning.  Just as with doing physical calisthenics: everyone is different in how the improvements in their muscular strength and coordination develop.

              Here are two things that are useful for most people.  Many people pay meditation instructors to learn this stuff, so you can call this the "open-source approach to meditation," or you can pretend you sent me a check for $200:-)

              One:  Concentrative meditation:  Sit comfortably in a quiet environment, with eyes closed.  Focus attention on counting your breaths from one to ten, counting as you breathe in.  When you get to ten, resume from one again.  If distractions come up, gently remind yourself to get back to focusing on your breathing.  Do this for five to fifteen minutes once a day, and then add another 5 - 15 minute session at another point in the day.  

              This is useful for building up the "concentration muscles."  Most of the time for most of us, our minds are like drunken monkeys that chatter and scatter and poop on the floor.  Developing concentration increases the amount of your natural intelligence that you can bring into participation in every activity, from work to love to anything you particularly enjoy, to anything you don't enjoy and want to get over with as quickly as possible.  

              Two:  Mindfulness meditation.  Sit comfortably in a quiet environment, with eyes closed.  Focus attention on your breathing, but this time don't count your breaths.  When you notice distractions coming up, name them and deliberately let them go.  This is subtly but significantly different than simply bringing your attention back to your breathing as in the concentration exercise.  

              Naming the distractions means, naming their form or category, not worrying about their content.   For example:  ...I hear a truck outside... that's a perception..." and "....back when we were kids, we..., oh, that's a memory..." and "....I like Obama but I'm so disappointed about.... oh, that's an emotion..." etc.   Perceptions, thoughts, feelings, memory, anticipation, imagination: these are all examples of different categories or forms of mental activity.  

              The goal of mindfulness is to learn to step back from any "content" that goes through your mind, and identify the type of content it is.  

              Do this one for 5 - 15 minutes once a day, and then add another 5 - 15 minute session at another time in the day.  

              This is useful for learning how to not be at the mercy of your "stream of consciousness," and to be able to respond peacefully and deliberately to anything that comes into your mind: even powerful feelings.  

              You can probably see how useful that is.  For example in preventing disagreements from becoming arguements, since you can catch yourself starting to get angry, and then decide how you want to respond to the situation rather than being dragged along for the emotional ride.   Or, for example, when you're involved with something that's really enjoyable, you can learn go notice what it is you enjoy about the experience, in order to find more activities that are enjoyable that way.  

              --

              OK, so try those two exercises and practice them regularly for a month, and see what happens.

              The thing about meditation is, it takes time to work, just like physical exercise.  Changes are gradual some of the time, and then at other times it feels as if your mind just got much more clear or capable in some way very quickly, and then change goes back to being gradual, and so on.  

              Practiced consistently, these techniques will also lead to the development of new abilities you didn't know you had, for example with memory and imagination and creativity.  They will also tend to lead toward having greater compassion for others, because you'll have more insight into how peoples' minds work.  

              Most faiths have some involvement with meditation, for example Christianity considers it one of the paths toward beginning to understand the mind of God, and Buddhism considers it the cornerstone of the path to Enlightenment.  

              But meditation as a purely cognitive discipline, is independent of any ideas about religion, so it's also highly useful for atheists and agnostics, in a similar way that working out at a gym is useful even to non-athletes who never play competitive sports.  

              So there's the basic lesson, and if you take the time to do the practice, you'll see improvements in your mental functioning and outlook over time.  

              And if this is useful to you, or if it's not, then find me around here in a month or so and let me know.

  •  Sorry to hear it snackdoodle... (9+ / 0-)

    but glad you pulled through.  And thanks for the diary.  Now get well soon.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Save the Internet!

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 09:30:44 PM PDT

  •  I'm so glad you're OK. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, KenBee, Diogenes2008, snackdoodle

    What a horrifying experience.

    •  Mine was like being hit by a truck but (9+ / 0-)

      lots of people have TIAs that aren't so dramatic. But they tend to mimic strokes.

      TIA is different than a small stroke. However, the symptoms of TIA are the same as a stroke and include the sudden development of:
      Muscle weakness of the face, arm, or leg (usually only on one side of the body)
      Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
      Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking
      Problems with eyesight (double vision, loss of all or part of vision)
      Changes in sensation, involving touch, pain, temperature, pressure, hearing, and taste
      Change in alertness (sleepiness, less responsive, unconscious, or coma)
      Personality, mood, or emotional changes
      Confusion or loss of memory
      Difficulty swallowing
      Difficulty writing or reading
      Lack of coordination and balance, clumsiness, or trouble walking
      Abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo) or dizziness
      Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
      Inability to recognize or identify sensory stimuli (agnosia)

      I didn't have all these symptoms any of them should cause concern and a trip to the ER

  •  Wow snackdoodle. Glad you came through this.. (8+ / 0-)

    Godspeed.

    I didn't know what the hell you were talking about with this TIA business. You prompted me to go to the google machine and do some reading. I think it's possible we have something in common...

    I had an inexplicable incident about a year ago. I'd written it off to the stress of the recent, sudden loss of my fiancee to an aneurysm--but deep down I had a nagging feeling I was rationalizing.

    Short version, I awakened on my bathroom floor with no recollection of how I got there. Then my dining room floor. Then my bedroom floor. A couple of hours at least transpired. Couldn't gather a coherent thought. It was all I could do to figure out where I was. Managed to crawl into bed and woke up some hours later...still foggy, but otherwise okay.

    I am absolutely not prone to hypochondria. Much more apt to ignore symptoms or rationalize them away.

    Holy crap. Thank you for the education.

    And once again. Glad you're okay.  

  •  Healing thoughts sent your way, with much (6+ / 0-)

    empathy.

    In my current condition, there have been mornings where - without the wetting and more noticeable memory loss - I was severely disoriented for a short time, each case being that my pain level was around a 9 (on the 10 point scale) before waking.  So, seeing the world first thing without being prepared for that level of pain is actually tough to register clearly at first; I can't describe the symptoms AS pain until getting through the layers of other symptoms that it causes.  Which leads towards so much disorientation and thought-ordering issues until I can consciously recognize the high level of pain for what it is - which then hits like a ton of bricks - and then figure out how to manage against it.

    There have been many times when I wonder if 911 is appropriate vs. my own management of severe issues.  I consider the tipping point to be if I lose significant ability to think, speak or move cleanly without recognition of other, direct causes.  Some of us living with chronic pain conditions are kinda worried about truly discerning when the time will be right - I've considered calling 911 a half dozen times the past year and don't want to go with another bogus discharge for "anxiety" and low potassium, as when the first symptoms of my chronic, neural Lyme hit after a stressful episode.

    Good luck for a speedy recovery.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:05:23 PM PDT

    •  (((((wader))))) (6+ / 0-)

      I suffered from chronic pain for about 15 years. Deep muscle spasms in my back, like back labor. Used to try to do my job running a steady 8 everyday. Then a doctor actually listened to me when I said the spasms were like back labor and prescribed Baclofen. 60 mg a day for 4 years, I was like I was reborn, the people I worked with had no idea I could smile or had a sense of humor. I could have had it from the very beginning if any of my other doctors had listened. I have weened myself off because the side effects are horrible at that doseage. I read if a person has been on it for a long time and aren't spastic, it is possible to get off and your body will have forgotten about the spasms. That is pretty much true. Now I take it once in a while if the spasms start and it works pretty well, using a TENS unit now.

      I know how disheartening it is when doctors blow you off. I had a doctor tell me my back issues were in my head, I was 45 and single and it was my "unfortunate social circumstances" that made me believe I had back spasms. I posted the symptoms of a TIA further up, if you ever have even ONE of those symptoms get yourself to an ER and make them give you at least a head CT.

    •  I agree with this, wader. (4+ / 0-)

      I have FMS and a couple kinds of arthritis, and every morning is really bad.  I've adjusted my jobs so I can wake up VERY slow and take meds before rising.

      But I think the worst thing with FMS and other chronic conditions that have "brain fog" and pain is that we grow used to symptoms that should be warning signs of other things.  When we USUALLY spend time trying to remember what day it is and where we are, or stagger from the bed as our body tries to remember how to walk--we get used to it.  And we'd miss something like a TIA or stroke until it was really bad--at least, until the symptoms lasted long enough for us to realize this wasn't a "usual" day.

      "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." - Thomas Carlyle

      by revsue on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:21:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have the above plus inner ear damage (5+ / 0-)

        Too many ear infections over too many years, and the stuff that cures them can mess things up too. I've learned to live with a low level of chronic vertigo (and tinnitus) as a result. But that too may eventually mask something more sinister. :-(

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:36:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I live in Omaha and Boy's Town Research (5+ / 0-)

          Center, attached to Creighton Medical Center does some pretty amazing things. My Doctor told me if the vertigo persists they can rebalance me. Retraining that allows you to compensate. If you think that might help you find them here

          http://www.boystownhospital.org/...

          They work with all ages altho their primary practice is children

          •  I've heard that it's sometimes possible, as well (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            revsue, G2geek, snackdoodle

            At the very least, you can be reconditioned to manage better in dealing with the symptoms - lessening the associated anxiety, adjust for hand-eye and balance coordination changes from what you used to know, etc.

            I have a left vestibular issue that contributes to my vertigo and balance problems since these symptoms ramped up from the untreated Lyme going into overdrive, and have naturally re-adjusted my physical stances and habits over the past couple of years more actively.  It can help restore more confidence, at the very least, in your ability to get around.

            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

            by wader on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:47:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My youngest son, the one who took me to the ER (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann, wader, revsue, G2geek, skohayes

              fell 20 feet about 12 years ago, he broke his wrist and we thought he was home free. Unfortunately he also has a TBI causing crushing debilitating migraines. He also has vestibular issues and a nystagmus. Balance was a terrible issue for him. He went to Boy's Town and they did wonders for him. We share the same Doctor who also treated his migraines. Immitrex works but he needs like 6 a day. He doesn't have insurance and at nearly $30 a tab his yearly medicine was WAY more than my yearly salary. Doctor worked with him, experimenting with lowering his heart beat and blood pressure along with a non narcotic pain med and while it isn't perfect, he can function fairly well, still bad days but many more good ones. I don't know of another doctor who would go to so much trouble.

          •  rebalance you? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            revsue, snackdoodle

            First of all, big hugs for having told your story here: your information could save lives.  

            Second, if anyone tells you that brains don't rebuild, they're mistaken.  Brains do rebuild.  First the brain routes around the damage, using redundant circuits; and then over time neurons can re-grow to patch the damaged area and make it usable again.  Severe brain damage is a different story, but the more common and lesser degrees, can heal up.  It can take time and work and practice, but you'll be surprised at your progress.  

            So third, say more about "rebalancing."  This is very interesting because I've always been under the impression that the vestibular system was one of the more difficult things to retrain, and from what you said, that's obviously incorrect.   Anything you can say about this will be appreciated.  I don't have a relevant health issue right now, but I'm always interested in findings that could overturn my existing hypotheses about things, particularly where the human mind/brain system is concerned.  

            •  I can't tell you the exact process because (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann, revsue, G2geek

              I wasn't there. Part of it is rekeying your anchor points, a point of visual contact. I don't know if I can explain it right. With my son he learned tricks and ways to compensate so he could maintain his balance, over time it becomes second nature. I am beginning to think my balance issues and vertigo are vestibular. I was  shopping yesterday and walked past a treadmill, the bottom was that diamond something or other pattern like you see on the steps of pick ups etc. My nystagmus got going and I very early wound up on the floor. There are patterns I can't look at without them literally spinning me onto my butt.

              •  very interesting.... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                revsue, snackdoodle

                What you said about visual anchor points (points of contact), should be enough to let me experiment with this anyway. (I don't have any relevant health issues at the moment, but I do like to play with my brain.)

                Re. visual patterns that cause trouble: YES, I'm aware of those types of issues, and that's one of the reasons I vigorously object to certain types of animated or moving content on web pages.  Also for some people, rhythmic or flickering images can trigger epileptic seizures.  What probably occurred with you was that the pattern on the treadmill caused your eyes to either scan in an unusual direction or try to focus on it as a 3-D object with more depth than was actually there.  This is just a research guess, not a medical guess, and I'm not a doctor.  

                But in any case, you'll learn over time to avoid letting your eyes be distracted by objects and patterns that can throw your visual tracking off or cause loss of coordination and/or balance.   This is something to bring up with your doctor next time you have an appointment.  

      •  Indeed, this is a key point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        revsue, G2geek, snackdoodle

        Three MDs have now claimed I am at the FMS stage in their minds, even if caused by Lyme progression and possibly other things (new tests coming soon).  So, they want to treat that as a bundle of associated symptoms under a larger umbrella.

        Coupled with the brain fog, I am finding that we can be so conditioned to deal with these extreme symptoms - which can easily mimic the onset of strokes, heart attacks, pneumonia and even broken bones - that when such things actually hit, being able to time-critically know when to call 911 may be a hit or miss proposition.

        Good fortunes and health management, to you.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 10:44:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes...I was hospitalized with pneumonia (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, snackdoodle

          a couple years back and spent a week in the hospital.
          I didn't cough, didn't really FEEL all that much worse, but was spiking fever of about 104 for two days, drinking Gatorade to stay hydrated, and my boys took me in to the ER.  Pneumonia never entered my mind...I figured it was just the flu on top of other symptoms.  Oops.

          But I'm learning, as we all are.  Great info on this thread!

          "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." - Thomas Carlyle

          by revsue on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 08:48:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I worry about this too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, snackdoodle

    for both myself and Mr. BigDog.  I figure it will be either a stroke or a heart attack that does us in.  

    Glad you were able to get help and get the damn doctors to see that you hadn't OD'd.  I spent last week arguing with ER docs myself, they didn't catch injuries of my daughter's after she was hit by a car while riding her bike.  She's going to be fine (thank god), but trying to get the docs to quit thinking they're GOD and actually do some REAL thinking is a challenge.  

    Hope you have a full and complete recovery, snack.  Take care.

  •  Take care of yourself! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snackdoodle

    If there are doctor's orders - follow them like a new convert to a religion.

    Glad to hear that you're OKAY. And have health insurance.

    More and better? I'd settle for just better.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 06:24:30 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for writing this and in such gripping (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snackdoodle

    detail.

    I live alone, have all sorts of risk factors for stroke and heart stuff ... I am not scared about dying in my sleep but to wake up and be too incapacitated to get help.  From what you said I might not even be able to dial 911 — if I could even remember what to do.

    Doctors almost never listen. Psychiatrists are often the worst. It is so frustrating. now I have to find another one since they guy I've been seeing has finished their residency. I am spinning my tires and wasting my life and I don't know how to stop it.

    Oh well.

    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... I'm asking you to believe in yours. Barack Obama

    by samddobermann on Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 02:58:37 AM PDT

    •  I don't know what I would have done had (0+ / 0-)

      I not gone back to bed and gotten up better. The very worse part is I could not have dialed 911 if I have known to do that. I think for not a lot you can get a pendant alarm that calls 911 if you can't. I will tell you it has been 5 days and while I am getting steadily better, I am not the same there is a big part of me that is still misplaced. When I sleep, if I dream it is about that morning and the confusion. My kids say my personality if different, think I am more subdued. But then my brain isn't going 100 mph yet.

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