Just a ramble. Diary crap. Proceed at your own risk.
Halloween couldn’t be a better time for a 72-hr ambulatory EEG. Of the three people who dared to ask me why I had a scarf tied around my head, one thought I was supposed to be Grace Kelly, another thought I converted to a different religion, and someone else thought I was just cold.
Poorly disguised by the scarf, my head was covered in electrodes and protected by a gauzy cap that was pulled down to my eyebrows. A bundle of wires came out of the cap leading into a little cross-body pouch that I had to carry everywhere with me, even to bed. EKG electrodes were affixed to my chest, and the wires trailed out of my shirt’s neck to connect with the other wires.
The experience was simultaneously embarrassing, liberating, and illuminating. After I got over the initial embarrassment of my appearance, I felt more confident somehow. When you stick out like a big bandaged electrocuted thumb, you can do nothing but own it. And I got a taste of what it’s like to be hooked up 24/7 to a medical device, which was humbling. When I was getting tired of it, I had to remind myself: Hetty, people do this their whole lives with even more painful things. You can live three days with it.
By the third night, it was just part of life. You simply develop new modes of bathing, dressing, and sleeping. Honestly, the worst part turned out to be getting the glue out of my hair (nail polish remover).
The three days went by more quickly than I expected. I went out and did all the things I usually do, with the exception of being yelled at by my boss. I was hoping my brain waves and heart rate would be recorded during an incident. The one time you want to listen to her shit is the one time she is nice to you and leaves early. (The woman never leaves or takes days off. She gets seven weeks of vacation a year and she probably takes a week and a half of them, just to ruin our lives.)
Although—- she did ask me, in her inimitable way, “If there’s nothing wrong with you, can you work more hours?”
Why did I have this contraption on my head to begin with? As a mild epileptic, my worst seizures (which are not motor, thankfully, just psychological) are controlled by medication, but I still space out constantly and my memory is absolute shit. I get weird sensations that I’ve disappeared for a moment or that a long time just passed, or that my sight and hearing faded away for a second or two. It’s like flipping the channel, but it’s the same show every time.
Because I’m not aware of what I’m doing, I’ve been increasingly making mistakes I’ve never made in all the years I’ve worked in the office. Though, at the very least, my public EEG has bought me some excuses for the time being.
I will see the neurologist on Wednesday. I pray the answer won’t be a frightening one. Suppose it is—then what? Is there anything scarier than something wrong with your brain? The failure of any organ is scary, of course, but the brain contains existence itself. If we lose that, we lose ourselves. More than myself, though, I worry about my parents.
I’m just depressed because I am in a constant state of foggy confusion. I lose things right where I’m sitting. In fact, I lost my keys today. I put things in bizarre places, like the house phone in my sock drawer. One time I went out of the house wearing a black sneaker on one foot and an orange one on the other. (Remarkably, I had the left/right ones correct.) Another time I discovered myself putting towels into the toilet. Today I was doing my makeup and eating breakfast at the same time, and held up my bowl instead of the mirror.
On Sunday at Mass, during the homily, I swear that suddenly I could not understand the sounds coming out of the priest’s mouth. I heard syllables but they were just noises. I was about to grab my fiancé because I was frightened it wouldn’t stop, but it passed. Maybe his voice was just muffled or he wasn’t close enough to the microphone. Either way, I was terrified.
Every day I embarrass myself at work. Sometimes I don’t even remember what was just said to me and I have to ask to have it slowly repeated two or three times so I can write it down. I make mistakes that inconvenience people—and I cannot stand putting other people out. I’m putting you out right now if you made it this far. Apologizes don’t even hurt my pride anymore.
I wonder how long it will be before I can’t string a simple sentence together anymore? I can tell my vocabulary has diminished considerably. I don’t understand the papers I wrote in college or the books I read. I even forget the names for common objects. I didn’t expect this to happen this early in life, that’s for damn sure.
Looking at myself in the mirror during my test, I felt as though I had become untethered from my normal reality. I imagined floating high above the earth, and looking down to see the places I might land obscured by clouds. There are three possible places: the present one where the results are normal and the frustrating quest for answers continues. The second case: the test reveals epileptic activity and they can prescribe a new medication and I can go on with my life feeling present and normal. The third case: something really bad is causing my problem. That new land seems to be covered with a sooty cloud, full of thunder and lightning. I don’t wish to fall down through that one.