Friday, January 11, 2013

Ça Continue

Monthly update time! Once again there's mixed news, although its less horrible than last month by far. The bad news is that, thanks to a couple of months of depression, I've put on a grotesque 9kg/20lb, and I've gotten weaker all over, which I guess is what happens when I don't to move anything but my jaw.

Time has been moving pretty strangely for me recently; I was reminded just how strangely last night when Bret mentioned that he'd been at his job for two years now. To me, it feels like a few months since he started, and not in the usual gosh, how time flies way. I will be 42 this year, but I feel like I just turned 40. In a way, this time of recovery feels unreal, the deficits I have feel somehow not me although I find it impossibly remote to recall what 'good' or 'proper' movement feels like.

As well as the oddity of having my (wonderful) sojourn in the UK feel like a dream, there has then been the months of depression. Again, I've been lucky in that it wasn't completely crippling, and I've had a lot of friends and acquaintances reaching out to support me. I hope they understand that, too often, it's been more than I could manage replying, but I will reply in the end.

For me depression has been like a sheer black veil, so fine that it's imperceptible. Each day another veil, with so little change from the day before that it's hard to tell that the world has gotten a little bit darker. Eventually, I am in a profound blackness that feels quite real, and impossible to break. It's shameful to discuss because it is so hopeless and so ridiculousEach time someone contacts me, it's like a small hole in the veil; and if I reach out, the veils are insubstantial and I punch a hole in the darkness and let some light in. The veils keep drifting in, though, day by day, and sustaining an upbeat view on life is a Sisyphean task.

Happily, modern psychopharmacology is stopping the darkness from gathering, and gradually lifting the veils. I was reluctant to take SSRIs (or any mind-altering drug), because it feels like such a pathetic concession of defeat. My doctor pointed out, though, that I had chronic depression, I had good reason to be depressed, and over half of stroke patients have some form of depression. 30 days later, and I am glad to be taking the happy pills because I feel more like the person I was three months ago than the miserable sod of last month.

I know that long term I do not want to be taking anti-depressants, but I also know that I have to build far stronger habits of mind and body before I stop taking the nice little pills. They're a crutch, but one that I need right now, so I'll use the crutch, just as I walk with a stick.

The better news is many-fold: The improvement in my face has continued so although 15 months later I still can't smile with both sides of my face, I'm optimistic that eventually full control will return. I'm also sure that my double vision is slowly improving, but that's so slow that it feels more delusional than ever. Fortunately the idea of my vision being this wretched for all time is still untenable, so I'm resisting the idea that I am deluding myself.

Further, I think the right-hand side tremor / dysmetria is improving a bit. While it is still gainfully and painfully difficult to write, type, use keys and so on, I have noticed I am spilling less coffee while I walk up the street, which is a good thing.

That may, however, have been caused by the best improvement, which has been in gait. It's surprisingly hard to tell where the improvement came from: my hip is less loose, but my foot is more responsive, too, and I noticed on the cycle at the gym yesterday that my right knee's tendency to deviate to the left was almost gone. What was so striking was that the improvement came overnight, at a time I was feeling very low. I wonder if the anti-depressants had an effect, or it was just the right night for a brain connection to be made. Regardless it, once again, gives the lie to the idea that there's no significant recovery to be made after six months. That's just total horse shit.

I guess that's the moral of the month, especially if you're recovering from a brain injury: you may be depressed, that's OK, get help, and never doubt for a second that recovery continues: I had a step-function improvement that was clearly neurological, overnight, at 14 months. I am not extraordinary, most doctors are just wrong.