Billy Martin (docbrite) wrote,
Billy Martin
docbrite

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.
Tags: books, health
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