Friday, 9 March 2012

Dad's Boot and My Ass

On Monday my condition had not improved and the head ache persisted.  My dad, at my mother's cajoling insisted I go the the emergency department.  At 6 P.M., we went to the Emergency of our local hospital and I was examined my an Emergency Department doctor who in consultation with my G.P. determined that all I had was a migraine and sent me home with a handful of 292 pain pills.
Over the next few days my mom still seeing little improvements in my overall demeanor phoned my G.P. and he was less than helpful.  His position was, "You get migraines therefore he should get them too. Your son is overacting, tell him to get on with it."
On Friday, my mom took me to his office.  He, fortunately was not the attending doctor, instead, Dr. Mackie was in his place.  My mom explained the car accident, the missed broken arm, and queried the doctor as to whether or not they might have missed a brain injury.
Dr. Mackie concurred and ordered up an X-Ray, a Brain Scan and an EEG.  He also made an appointment with a Neurologist.
Over the next two weeks, I went for the EEG, then the X-Ray, then the old fashioned brain scan.  I drank a barium mixture and they placed this large disk against the side of my head and took pictures of the arteries that  glowed due to the barium coursing through them.  A CAT  Scan was not available in Victoria, B.C. in 1977.  The first generation of it was available in Vancouver, B.C. a ferry ride away.
I went to the Neurologist with my father on a Wednesday.  He did his usual, follow the pen routine, examined the front of my brain by looking in my eyes with the scope and concluded that it was a migraine.  He closed the visit with, "If anything shows up on the tests your doctor ordered, I'll eat my shirt."

Let us sum it up for you.  I have had teachers say I was lazy, lacked concentration, was incorrigible, had my Doctor, who delivered me no less, treat my fainting with blood tonic, diagnose my head ache over the phone no less, and had a neurologist say it was just a migraine.
My dad, was from the old school where you did not question the opinion of the teachers and treated Doctors like they were Gods.
To say he was fit to be tied, given the fact I had been behaving this way for 4 years, would be an understatement.
In fact I take my hat off to him because with all that going against me he still was willing to await the final judgement.
The only thing between his boot and my ass was the results of those infamous tests.
On November 21, 1977, I sat down to dinner with my mom and dad when the phone rang.  Being a teenager, I jumped up to answer it. It was the Neurologist.  He asked me what I was doing and I said, "We are just sitting down to dinner."
He then said, "I am about to eat my shirt." 
I inquired, "Why?"
He responded in a matter of fact tone of voice, "We have found some inflammation on your brain and want you to check into the hospital first thing in the morning."
I responded, "O.K., would you like to speak with my mom?"
The doctor said "Yes."
I handed the phone to my mom.
I had no idea that I was a dead man walking.  In fact I didn't care.  I felt vindicated!
I figured a needle would fix me.
What I was not privy to was the dire situation I was actually in.
My mother was informed by the neurologist, that I had an aneurysm rupture in my head.  That I was to be kept calm because a spike in blood pressure could kill me.
He informed her that I had at the outside 6 weeks to live.  It depended where the aneurysms were, how deep in the brain they were, whether they were accessible and if there were more on the verge of rupturing.
Fifty percent of those who suffer a brain aneurysm, die on the spot.  The remainder range from comatose, paralyzed, to high functioning brain injured.
The race was now on.  The next couple of weeks would determine my fate and all of it fell into the hand of Dr. S. Cameron, Neurosurgeon.

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