Tuesday, 13 March 2012

You're Gonna Shave My What?

As pride goes, in 1977, long hair was in, I was 18 and I had absolutely no idea the condition I was in.  The ward was 4 West at the Royal Jubilee hospital in Victoria, B.C.
The medical staff who worked that floor referred to it in private as "Death Row".  Those who entered rarely lived past a few days and those lucky to escape the grips of the reaper, left half the person they once were.
Most patients arrived with acute trauma to their head which resulted from a motor vehicle accident of some kind.
It was all the doctors could do to simply try to put "humpty" back together again.  Unfortunately it usually meant that the person may have lived but crucial areas of the brain were beyond repair.

In my case the nurses wondered why I was there.  Few understood that an eighteen year old could have suffered a stroke.  This was reserved for the aged and no so for the young.
Since I presented with a normal outward appearance free from the trauma found in the motor vehicle accident victims, they often asked me, "What is a young man like you doing here?"
It was only when they read my charts did they understand and in many aspects I think that they had empathy for me, because they new how the odds were stacked so heavily against me.

I stated earlier that I was a dead man walking, however the medical terms would have most likely said I was either serious and in stable condition or critical but in stable condition.

I was informed that I was about to undergo a specialized test.  It was called an angiogram.  It is a simple process where a highly trained doctor threads a small catheter up through a small incision in the groin piercing the femoral artery and threads this tube up the chest through the heart into the carotid artery and into the brain.

The test would commence in the morning.  That night a male nurse came into the room and said, "It's time for your shave."
I thought to myself, "Lets see, I've been shaving for 2 years now and I cut myself both times."
I looked at the nurse and said,"I don't think I need a shave, but thanks just the same."
He replied, "It's not the face I will be shaving."
I said, "You're gonna shave my WHAT?"

He explained that for the test all hair from my knees to my belly button must be shaved as to guard against infection.
Now, I don't know about you but I am in my prime, I get an erection when the wind blows and some guy is going to be shaving me, down there.  It took all my strength to and all my prayers to save me from that embarrassment.

The next day, I was wheeled into the operating room.  Little did I know the entire medical staff was on standby for this little innocuous test.
When they thread this catheter up into the brain, there is only one reason for it and that is to inject a dye into your arteries and then take a picture of them.

This was the test from hell!  It hurt worse than the actual aneurysm rupturing.

First the doctor targets an artery that feeds the frontal lobes of the brain.  He counts back from 3 and then BOOM!; He injects this vile drug

The pain is instant and then in a heartbeat it is gone.  It is like someone lifting your skull off and pouring scalding water onto the brain.

Now the frontal lobe along with the parietal regions of the brain have fewer arteries than that of the occipital or rear part of the brain.  This is where the bulk of the brain is and this is the test he leaves for last.
My eyes are already watering from the first 3 regions being tested but he tells me I have to be really still for the last test or he will have to take a retake.

Well suffice to say I did not budge, in fact I am certain that my fingerprints are firmly embedded in that metal operating table.
The doctors were on standby in case the dye hit the brain through an open artery or if the process caused the weakened arteries rupture. 
Neither materialized and I was sent back to my room. bald in all the wrong places and wondering when it would all end.

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