A Scary Thing Happened on the Way to the Farmer’s Market

Dear God and Garuda,

I woke up this morning with a slight headache, and not as euphoric as I have felt of late. But I was excited about seeing stepson John play music at the farmer’s market at 11 a.m.

About 10:30, I lay down and a few minutes later, my headache turned into a crushing explosion, then was gone. Afterwards I was very disoriented. Allan asked me if I wanted to go to the farmers market. I had no idea what he was talking about. I wasn’t sure where I was. I ran downstairs and looked at David. I knew him, and that comforted me. I told Allan to call 911. Instead, he grabbed my medicines and drove us to the hospital. I walked up to the registration station and told them I thought I just had a stroke. The good news, and I was aware of it, was that I was speaking and moving normally. But I was very, very  scared and may have been having a panic attack from the confusion and fear—-which was contributing to the out-of-body experience I was still undergoing.

The nurse gave me a routine neurological exam. I could squeeze her fingers with equal pressure. I could say my name, date of birth. I could follow her finger with my eyes. She asked me what month it was and, for a second, I wasn’t sure. But I quickly came up with “October” and realized that I was scared of not knowing, which flustered me, and accounted for the lapse.

Jessica came and got David, while Allan and I went into the ER. Dr. Mark Bach came to see me and performed a more rigorous neurological exam: checking my Babinksi response. I mentioned it to Dr. Bach and he was surprised that I knew the word Babinksi. “I”m a neurologist’s daughter,” I said.

I realized, then, that I was observing everything happening to me as if I were my father. I was pretending to be Beau so that he would, in fact, be there. It was very surreal. Dr. Bach sent me for a CT Scan to look for signs of a subarachnoid hemorrhage although he thought it seemed very unlikely because I was behaving and responding normally.

While Dr. Bach (who was wonderful and funny and kind) went to place the order for the CT, I started crying. I wanted Beau there, to manage this for me, to call the shots, and to comfort me with his knowledge. My condition was yet another stark reminder of his absence in my life.

“Who’s gonna fix my head?”  I wondered. “Or, is my head like this out of grief? Or out of Bercaw-ness?” My Uncle Woodson went through something similar once, although on a much larger scale and for a longer duration.

The CT came back normal, and we had a nice talk with Dr. Bach about next steps. He said that I could have some spinal fluid withdrawn, but he felt that I was fine and 99.9 percent sure of it. “There would have been a trace of something on the CT,” he assured me. “If you were my wife, I wouldn’t do the spinal. You aren’t showing any signs of a stroke. I believe you are fine to go home.”

And so I did, where I promptly slept for two hours. I woke thinking how strange it was that last week my father wound up in the ER and was frightened (see last post) and this week it happened to me. Am I undergoing some weird transference or projection in the opposite direction? A condition in which I am assuming my father’s interests, traits and experiences in an attempt to replace him?

One thing I know for sure is that I think too much. It might be time to let my brain out of its own jar, and let it swim for a while in a new sea.



6 Comments Add yours

  1. Allan Nicholls says:

    Time to keep it simple I say…we both are guilty of over-thinking and worrying way too much for our own good and I feel (though I am not a doctor, nor have I ever been related to one) that a combination of multiple stressful days of thought combined with new medication and an evening or two “on the town” could definitely cause a major headache resulting in a moment of disorientation the following day. The disorientation would then snowball into a more serious situation when you add the worry and the over-thinking … we reacted well and got it under control and thanks be to all of our friends and good physicians for helping us down off the roller coaster.

  2. M. Swearingen says:

    A friend of mine says I sometimes suffer from “paralysis of analysis.” Whether or not that is true, I do know that when I think too strongly about one subject, I tend to create the subject, and more often than not, make it much worse. Even science now says that the observer, just by observing, can change the outcome of the experiment. Then, add a good dose of fear, and I am truly overcome. I have had similar episodes, scary and terrible.

    I believe you are right, Allan, you both reacted well, you both did what you should do, and it served you well. I am sorry for your scary time Nancy, but I am very glad that you have each other and you are well. Now savor your strength in difficult times and your calmness in well being.

    I also have to add that I believe you are brave and courageous to share this experience; you may help many others by sharing this.

  3. M. Swearingen says:

    oh…I forgot, I know the Babinski response too…it is done on newborns.

  4. Nancy DDDDD says:

    I am so glad you are all right!!!!! Geez. And I am really glad you went to the emergency room. That DID happen to Father. He drove all the way down to Sylva, NC to visit my godparents, spent the night, and when he woke up said, “I know where I am, but how did I get here?” Beau tested him nothing showed up– just a Bercaw brain.

  5. Jena says:

    Sending love.

    1. nancybercaw says:

      Thank you, everyone.

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