I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging during Christmas – so first and foremost, Merry Christmas! I hope the break was a pleasant and food filled one.
In the run up to Christmas, I’ve had so many updates to my health in about the space of a week that it’s just been a bit overwhelming to deal with. Each deserves a separate blog post of their own, so watch this space to hear about the results from my neuropsychological testing, my seizures and whether or not I have epilepsy!
However, this post is dedicated to the most pressing update. A few weeks ago at the beginning of December (the 8th of December, to be precise) I called my neurovascular nurse to update her on how I had been doing, and find out what the next course of action was, as I had had no contact since my birthday present back in October. We discussed how I had been doing and I gave her a brief breakdown – fatigue was getting less and less, energy levels more and more, I had gradually gone back to work and started studying again. She was pleased to hear I was trying to get back on track with life and gave me yet another present – her blessing to return to the final part of my life that was still on hold.
I had to make doubly sure. And triple sure. “You do know that cheerleading isn’t about waving pompons around… it’s a physical activity with inversions and high cardiovascular activitiy and potential falls, right? It’s almost like gymnastics. I could fall and hit my head.”
She was aware. She knew. And she said it should all be fine, now that my varix was gone. The collapse of my varix meant the collapse of most of the risk I was carrying around in my brain.
“Just go back gradually. If anything gives you a headache or makes you dizzy, stop and stay at that level. And try to avoid any sudden movements of the neck that would affect the vertebral arteries. That’s the only thing that would risk increasing the intracranial pressure in your head, which would increase your risk of rupture.” (To the non-medics out there, that basically means no whiplash-type movements… to the cheerleaders out there, that basically means no snapping in baskets).
So that was the final piece! I could go back to training! Over the past 9 months I had become so frustrated at first my physical limitations to physical activity (nobody tells you just how fast much your muscles waste away when you’re lying in a bed, recovering) and once the physical limitations started to dissipate, the mental limitations. I immediately made plans to go to an open gym session that night to celebrate! The green light from my nurse did remove some mental limitations, although I still found myself hesitating a lot more than usual. Which is understandable, really. Nevertheless, words cannot express the joy I felt at finally getting ALL aspects of my life back on track.
My nurse had also given me a second point to be excited about – my team had decided they needed an up-to-date image of what was going on in my head before we start to think about gamma knife. So I was to have an angiogram (an imaging procedure that looks specifically at the arteries in my brain) “at some point between Christmas and January”. Whilst it was great that I had some form of progress with Ralph, the vague timescale meant that I couldn’t plan anything. I had no idea if I would be here or with my parents for Christmas, where I would be for New Year’s, where I would be for my boyfriend’s birthday (which fell exactly halfway between Christmas and New Year… and is actually today!)… And the other factor was, once I had the angiogram, I would need somebody to drive me back from the hospital as walking is prohibited for the first 48 hours or so.
My hospital letter arrived a week before Christmas and informed me my angiogram would be on the 30th of December. Perfect timing! This meant I could spend Christmas with my parents, my boyfriend’s birthday with him and New Year’s (voluntarily and medically) confined to the sofa. Which is what I had hoped for anyway. Despite having already had 3 angiograms, I also received a handy “What to expect when you’re expecting” sort of booklet, except for angiograms. For those who don’t remember or haven’t yet googled it, the reason why caution has to be taken with walking after an angiogram is because a catheter (a thin plastic tube) is inserted into my femoral artery (the main artery that supplies the leg) and is threaded up to my brain through the arterial system. Yep, they get to my brain from my leg/groin area. Cool, right? Whilst it does give highly accurate, real time images of my cerebral circulation, the fact that they have to leave a puncture wound in a major artery which is likely to bleed out unless if proper care is taken…. You get the picture.
The only thing I’m not looking forwards to about this angiogram is the fact I have to be in the hospital by 8am. Yawn. The previous three times I’ve had an angio, I’ve been unconscious – the first two times because the combination of my stroke and the pain medication knocking me out, the third time because it was actually an operation. Hopefully this time I’ll be conscious and I’ll be able to frustrate the team with my genuine interest and questions of the Circle of Willis (the main set of blood vessels at the base of the brain) and other neurovascular structures.
I’ll end this post with a song that I feel reflects my current mood. I’m movin’ on up!
‘Cos I’m moving on up. You’re moving on out. Movin’ on up. Nothing can stop me.