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Brain Damage Is Teh Funny

I've been totally out of commission with some weird germ Chris brought home last week, though I'm not recovering as fast as he did. Weird symptom-cluster of horrible nauseating dizziness (only for the first day or so, thank God), head and body ache, congestion, and a bad cough. I always call such things Captain Trips because when I'm in their throes, I wish they would just go ahead and kill me, but I don't think this one is going to.

I'm reading a fascinating book by Melanie Thernstrom, The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering (which, it strikes me typing it, is one of the longest subtitles I've ever seen). Here's the excerpt that roused me from my sickbed to send out an inarticulate Livejournal howl:

There is increasing evidence that over time, untreated pain eventually rewrites the central nervous system, causing pathological changes to the brain and spinal cord, and that these in turn cause greater pain.

Translation: You're gonna hurt for the rest of your life, and it will probably get worse. OK, I already knew that. I don't like it, but I've come to some kind of terms with it. Digested the probability, if you will. But Thernstrom goes on to say:

Even more disturbingly, recent evidence suggests that prolonged pain actually damages parts of the brain, including those involved in cognition.

"WELL, ISN'T THAT JUST FUCKING GREAT," I said out loud to myself when I read that, then got up and paced (well, limped) around the room for a while. Then I sat back down and grabbed my notebook from the bedside table to copy down that sentence. I did so, then flipped back a few pages to the increasingly awful cartoons I had been drawing before the Wellbutrin. Bored with these, I stared off into space for a while, then glanced at the bedside table, which looked oddly empty. "Isn't my notebook supposed to be there?" I thought. "Where the hell's my notebook? Did I leave it in my office or ... "

I looked down at the notebook still open on the bed in front of me. And, you know, all I could really do was laugh. Because, even when it may be irrevocably damaged, the mind is a pretty funny monkey.



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
I have fibromyalgia and have constant pain. I swear to god I get dumber every day. And my memory is shot. Yesterday I went looking for the cheese grater and realized I could not remember what kind it was. Then I found it today, in the over. ?????
Feb. 20th, 2011 05:12 am (UTC)
Post-its everywhere. Write everything down. I have fibro too, and if I want to remember something and I don't write it immediately? It's probably out of my head in less than 3 minutes. This is also really bad when meeting new people, too. Fucking fibro fog.
Feb. 20th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
Oh, hubby. I'd say if I were there I'd make you soup, but your old man can do that much better than I can, I'm pretty sure.

And yep, that's what I've heard about the chronic pain. And from what I've experienced myself, it's all true. I've been in so much frelling pain from the move that my brain and nervous system are now trapped in a pain cycle that renders me nonfunctional and even Percocet can't touch it. Ugh. If nothing I have on hand ends up working for long enough that I can sleep without pain and "reboot the system" as it were, I'm going to have to end up seeing one of those stupid blasted doctors and it'll be 50/50 on whether I'll actually get a decent Rx or if it'll be "just wait it out" nonsense.

Brains are indeed funny things. Wish mine would tapdance or something. Then it'd be amusing and useful for once.
Feb. 20th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
I have an ex-girlfriend with fibro, an that make a lot of sense. And it's also true of stress and depression - after a pint your brain is trained to THINK there's pain there, or stress, or what-have-you and thinks that's the normal condition.

Which SUCKS.

And yes, the mind is a funny monkey. I watch UrsulaV's all the time, and am constantly amused.

(also that husband of yours is a magician with food - just got in a from a second night at GG. He's a keeper)
Feb. 20th, 2011 06:09 am (UTC)
I do that kind of stuff even without prolonged pain as a possible excuse. I was walking home in the rain the other day, rummaging frantically & awkwardly through my bag with the hand not holding the umbrella, trying to work out what I'd left behind, because there was an empty pocket that I *knew* always had something in it. The front pocket, where I keep...the umbrella.
Feb. 20th, 2011 06:12 am (UTC)
Wow...that rivals my complaining to a friend the other afternoon. I was complaining that I had no idea how I had managed to lose my cellphone when I hadn't left the house all day. I went on and on about having looked absolutely everywhere for it, all to no avail.
After about 10 minutes of this ranting, I realized I was talking to her ON MY CELLPHONE.
Feb. 20th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
Ha ha! I remember this one time when I had been up for a long time and I was really tired but I didn't realize how tired I was. I kept looking around my dorm room for my glasses, totally befuddled that I couldn't find them. I finally realized that I was wearing them. I realized then exactly how tired I was. :-D
Feb. 20th, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
Damage != irrevocable damage: the old saw that neurons don't regrow has been disproven more and more in the last couple of decades (and synaptic growth happens all the time.)

Still doesn't mean this pain shit is *good*. Neuroplasticity just fortunately runs both ways.
Feb. 20th, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
Hi, I've never commented before, but I wanted to share that I too seem to be losing teh brain power. Yesterday I lost a block of CHEESE! And the last place I could remember it being was on my nightstand!? I have chronic pain from severe vitamin D deficiency and blah blah ten thousand other ailments. at least I have someone to laugh at (myself).
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 20th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
Oh god. Well, that explains a lot.
Feb. 21st, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
And apparently this sort of thing happens with bipolar, too, which is why my pshrinks are so focused on keeping me somewhere in the middle, even when I fuss at them that I am not getting any shit DONE and could I maybe go back to hypomania with a sleeping pill for backup? Because I've got the kind where the depression puts me less functional than the manic parts, and they are saying I might burn out my brain.

Luckily, apart from the drugs, I have a shiny new piece of technology: an iPod Touch. Which I hope to use as a sort of External Memory. We'll see.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
Apparently most people around me were unable to distinguish "hypomanic" from "vivacious." Depression, everyone could see when it happened. Trying to treat it with Wellbutrin, though? That was a REALLY INTERESTING experience, what with the sleeping three hours a night and eating one meal a day.

I don't think they'd be willing to put me back on it long enough for me to lose fifteen pounds, more's the pity.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
They've got me on Trileptal(oxcarbazepine), which is supposed to be weight-neutral. I think I've only gained 5-10 pounds on it, which could just as well be "it's winter and I'm eating shortbread with my constant cups of tea." Or possibly being past a certain milestone birthday, which I have trouble believing has happened.

Microwaving soap and lightbulbs? Found object collage, I suppose?

My upswings tend to involve Epic Road Trips interspersed with dedicated house cleaning. It would be a wonderful existence, if only I could sleep!

(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
These activities sound like fun, but in Someone Else's Microwave.

Isn't "It seemed like a good idea at the time" practically the diagnostic statement for bipolar? ;-)
Feb. 28th, 2011 07:05 am (UTC)
that would be awesome--I'm diagnosed bi-polar, while there's no actual physical pain, stress and anxiety certainly qualify. Being ADD doesn't help either. Doc, I feel ya, if I had a nickel for every time I set my car keys down and forgot where, I could afford to pay a chauffeur.
Feb. 20th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
I really hate it that you're in so much pain. I would bake you a cake, but you already live with an awesome chef who can bake circles around me. I would write you some gay porn, but I'd be scared to send it. So I will just send you a kiss, because I am one good goddamn kisser. :) And we're all getting married, so it's okay.

*kiss* Here's hoping for a not-so-sucky day for you, Mr. Brite.

Feb. 20th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
Gibbering to my senses
....hi, R says sorry will amends himself soon. He hates to be part of anything misleading and would like to offer you the next few minutes barely contextual grammatical horror and spelling disaster of a distraction from any discomfort reviewals of intensely stupid people about their improbably unscathed blunderings might offer. This is from an email to a friend just this morning, yet another tale of true goofy taken straight from the everyday mundane non-adventures of a real deal dyed in the wool dumb ass...
jameysturm@gmail.com writes:
dogtooth. I like that title. well, as you know me well as anyone and hopefully trust my ability to not go paranoid I feel comfortable talking about this with you. Not so much talking, just writing a few words and emailing them and gauging them against the next time I see K-----n and J===n (he's a definite, she's a certain, beat me out of two ounces too, and that ain't cool goddamnit. god I hate pigs, what the fuck is wrong with these dingbats, well J----n is just not an intellectually wired fellow, he's the prototype, no mysteries there...but K-----n's a real piece of work. feel like girly Johnny Depp ala jumpstreet's violated me. always a fuckin chick. just like I told her, im terrible at reading chicks character and protest though she presumed her right to be till she thought about it (amazing she hadn't already)...smoky hues of voice, of course she sounded older than she 'turned out to be'...i was right from go. then i let her get me. goddamnit. makin me look stupid in front of my valued customers. next thing you know it'll be complete--the whole crew undercovers, every customer a pig...just so long as they don't gank me out of me pot i guess its cool Hell its already a measurable contingincy as is...rock n roll outlawing is odd business. Goddamnit Kristen. Hot on the heels of Heather's idiocy my next mistake is to fall for (as a friend, nothing else) a fuckin fledging entrapment artist...don't have to love em or even lust for them just wanting to know them is enough to rip the life out from under you.
if it were not for you seleana and the almost airborne letters telepathy i have with Paula (thanks to the reznor for pointing me to the only two girls I can trust--at least from thousands of miles away =P) i think i might have slipped into irretrievable misogyny after the shit with K-----n coming so close to the shit with Heather...

anyhoo nebbermind, gibberish all that, JIB sillyness I don't wanna burden you with at least not without a phone which if agent K-----n hadnt been a deviant of the state id have on right this second....again, nebbermind, just had to blow that shit off my chest.

dogtooth. nice. I'll look at that now...
ps you, where's the rev dvd?
Feb. 20th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
cod he said
j---n walked into K===n and I talking about her rsvp or whatever lung bother and announced "She's cod too."
Dumbass. No gills so cop on duty and CLICK
Alot made sense just then...

ok done, someday I will learn to at least take the time to once over this shit, figure fuck it, you're a bright enough fella to write them nasty books you can piece some coherency outta most any dastardly ass thing...
Kenny Roberts
Feb. 25th, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
"It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others". ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
Feb. 27th, 2011 11:44 am (UTC)
Off-topic, Doc, but I've been thinking of you periodically in the past few days. There has been a disaster in my town and I've evacuated. God the guilt. There are all manner of logical reasons why what I am doing is best for me and for my community, but I keep thinking "I should be there... if I were there I might find my cat...I didn't leave last time, this time the damage is far worse but an aftershock is just an aftershock..." and I think of you and the things you wrote in the immediate aftermath of the levee failure and know you understand what this feels like. My beautiful home is destroyed and I *will* go back, I don't care if it's a lawless swamp. Well maybe I do. But everyone is going on about how it shouldn't be rebuilt and how it's finished etc etc... and I thnk about how they said that about NOLA and yet it is slowly rebuilding itself. But it hurts terribly.

I feel like having read your LJ these past few years has shown me how it can be and that it's not wrong or stupid to feel the way I d, even though I do feel stupid and wrong.

Edited at 2011-02-27 11:46 am (UTC)
Mar. 1st, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Suzycat, is there anything We Here can do to help? I feel like this
event and its aftermath is not getting a whole lot of coverage in the US.
What animal welfare organizations can we lend assistance to;
do you know yet the whos and hows and wheres on that sort of thing?

Our thoughts, hearts, prayers and hopes are with you and with your kitty.
Love, love, and more love, during this dark and heartbreaking time.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
I am trying to find out what animal welfare organisations are best to try - the NZ SPCA is probably the most obvious in the short term. Thank you so much for your kindness.
Mar. 1st, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
I'm so very sorry. If you are in Christchurch, I've been crying over the newspaper stories from there. No matter where you are, please let me know if I can post links to help organizations or help in any other way.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
I am, or rather I was - I'm now living in a small town south of Christchurch, temporarily, where I can still work etc.

At this stage the NZ Red Cross is ideal for general welfare and I am trying to find out which animal welfare organisations would be best. The NZ SPCA is working for us (so much so I can't get through on the phone), finding and feeding animals.

Thanks so much. It is ... I live in the CBD and all my hangouts are destroyed. Not just a bit messed up but destroyed. They will have to bulldoze them.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 02:34 am (UTC)
Brain Damage Is Teh Funny
This is so true living with MS....i swear there are days that i wonder if i haven't completely lost my mind.....
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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