M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, December 06, 2004  

Brain Scan

Ever since a couple of months ago when I had that migraine that temporarily turned the speech center of my brain into tapioca, I’ve been wondering what was going on up there. Especially with the increased incidence of nascent headaches. Of course they never get past the nascent stage because I pop a brace of acetaminophen the moment the muscles behind my eyes remind me of their existence, but even that never used to happen. So I’ve been curious about the cause, and looking forward to the MRI I had last week and learning the results thereof.

So the good news is that my aneurysm is a reeeeally teeny one.

An aneurysm, for those of you who quit watching ER George Clooney left, is a bulge in a blood vessel. It’s not supposed to happen, particularly in your brain. If you’re lucky, a brain aneurysm will hit you while you’re playing drums with your band somewhere in Europe, and you end up leaving the band before it’s albums get really sucky and the lead singer starts painting a blue stripe across his face for some weird reason. If you’re less fortunate, you wind up stone dead flat on your back on the sofa for your vampire-slayer daughter to come home and find you, and then the aftermath episode doesn’t even win an Emmy.

Actually, what I have is probably not an aneurysm at all. It’s a “possible” aneurysm, measuring 1.5 millimeters, which isn’t even enough to crowd out trivia like the length of a year on Mercury (88 days) or the B7 guitar chord. It’s probably not an aneurysm at all, but merely a perfectly normal and minor abnormality pounced upon by some bored radiologist, like a New York Times copy editor mistaking a dash for a hyphen in Safire’s latest column.

Which is kind of too bad.

I was sort of hoping that I had some kind of brain thing that would make me telekinetic, or remove my need for sleep, like John Travolta in Phenomenon. At the very least I thought I might get to become a savant in a few areas in which I’m not already a savant, but no such luck. Sure, I can make fun of Brent Spiner, but I could do that before.

On the other hand, it sure would have sucked being given only months to live before my brain leaped out of my skull like a sports car engine being downshifted from fourth to reverse. I could have had the rare opportunity to write a Diarist Award shoo-in entry beginning with the sentence, “By the time you read this, I will be dead,” but once I was done with that there wouldn’t be a whole lot to look forward to. So I think I’m coming out ahead. If you’ll pardon the expression.

Lots of people dread MRIs. You have to go to the hospital, get undressed in some cases, or at the very least divest yourself of all metal as if you’re going through airport security on 9/12/01. Then you lie down on a slab and they slide you into a claustrophobic cylinder, as if they’re toasting you like a Quizno’s sandwich. But what they’re doing instead is bombarding you with rays that might come in useful in the course of interplanetary conflict, while you have to hold absolutely still. One of them even tipped over on a dude around here a few years ago, so the procedure doesn’t even have a 100% survival rate. Obviously it’s not everybody’s cup of eggnog. Me? I’ve got a newborn at home. I was looking forward to the chance to nap.

This was my first MRI. I’m fortunate enough not to be claustrophobic, even when they clamped my head in position and put a plastic cage over my face. I just closed my eyes and pretended it wasn’t there. Then I slid into the tube, where I was grateful for the earplugs I’d been given, because MRIs are loud, dude. It’s like listening to really aggressive, disjointed club music. But it was easier to sleep through than a baby crying, because I was out of there before you know it.

When the neurologist called me back today with the results, I asked her which part of the brain the non-eurysm was in. I was hoping she’d tell me it was in the part that makes me eat too many sweets, or the area that gets shut down after the first beer. But no, all she told me was that it was in the right anterior cerebral artery. So I had to look it up for myself. Turns out that if this thing goes kablooey I could lose anything from my Orkut password to my immortal soul. Great.

I’m not going to worry about it, though. Something this size, the odds of anything happening are about equal to those of an MRI machine tipping over on a dude. The neurologist said the migraine and headaches are likely just a function of stress and sleep deprivation, which means they should go away when M. Tiny graduates from medical school. The bummer is that since this vanishingly tiny thing is up there (maybe), Trash is insisting that I not exert myself too intensely at anything. Not that that cuts into my barely-existent exercise regimen, but there are times when you’re on the throne and a hundred per cent just isn’t enough.

Today's best search phrase: "Giant girls and their tiny friends." Now I'm curious.

posted by M. Giant 9:06 PM 6 comments


I too had an MRI and a CT scan a few months back. I had these unexplainable piercing, debilitating headaches where I would just have to drop everything and hold myself up on something. Of course the doctors eek out, "brain tumor", which I though would be pretty sweet since lately there's been a rash of brain tumors in all the heavy metal mega-stars.

Alas, no brain tumor, but a fun trip to the scanning room with hot nurses ain't all bad.

They still don't know what my deal is, but maybe M. Tiny can help a brotha out when he goes to that fancy doctrin' school.

By Blogger chao, at December 7, 2004 at 6:39 AM  

Wow, you sure have a lot going on.

I had a total of 4 ct-scans when I was in and out of the hospital this summer with gall bladder surgery and a liver tumor (that probably weighed more than M.Tiny), 7 pounds, and I don't think it was half as bad as a cage over your face! Wow. I've never had an MRI. All I dreaded was the barium I had to drink (shiver) and the many IVs they had to start. The only problem I had in the ct-scan was holding my breath long enough. It felt like forever.

Well, I'm glad the results weren't bad, happy you are ok!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 7, 2004 at 7:04 AM  

Seriously dude, STOP BEING INTERESTING. Jeez. If you wanted "Scanners" on DVD for Xmas, all you had to do was ask. I already know how this is gonna be: "Sorry, honey. I'd love to clean the garage, but the thing is, well, my HEAD might EXPLODE."

(Yes, this may sound glib, but this is the way they do things in the Giant household.)

Remember, as a patient in the Emergency Dept. once told me, "If you plan to go fishing, and it acts up, it's 'this damned condition of mine.' If somebody wants you to clean the gutters, it's 'my horrible disease.'"

You've seen stuff like this already, but if I may, readers are encouraged to pour a stiff drink and see http://www.strokecenter.org/pat/ich.htm for scary info about what may happen if your anterior cerebral artery someday gets bigger and decides on a REAL aneurysm, which then goes kablooey. Me, I'm confident that all the extra useless knowledge packed into your head will hold the vessels in check no matter what. (Trivia saves lives!)

Oh, and think about switching to Ibuprofen, or combining a small dose of Acetopinophen with Ibuprofen, when and if your next migraine comes up. A toxic dose of Tylenol is not as much as you might think. http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-001.shtml

Hey, M.Tiny could finish med school about the same time as me! Sweeeet! (Which brings me to, er... awkward plug time. Click my userID for a link to my blog, where I just happen to have told a story about an ICH yesterday. 38 years old, this one was.)

Finally, the B7 chord is a BEATLES chord. Naturally it'll stay there for a while.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at December 7, 2004 at 8:12 AM  

My dad had an ICH in March. He was in a coma for about a week (and comas, contrary to what you see on soap operas, can feature lots of moaning and thrashing and general unpleasantness). Now he's fully functional again, except he's had the proverbial 'personality changes' and he only thinks he can read maps and he insists that 10016 is the written form of 'one thousand sixteen'. So do whatever is required to keep your blood pressure low, eh? ("There was an election? I had no idea. Look, a monkey!" "I'm sorry, Trash, but I can't get up with the baby. I have to get my sleep or my brain will melt and then we'll end up in North Dakota all the time because I can't tell the difference between exit 15 and exit 105.")

Also, if you have an ICH and live, your child will make fun of you on the internets to deal with the sorrow caused by the loss of bits of your personality.

Seriously, you have my sympathies, and thank God it's small and just the one - a lifetime of hypertension means that you have little and big ones all over the place. So, here's a PSA. Hey, Internet! Check your blood pressure, today!

- ginger

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 7, 2004 at 9:34 AM  

M.Giant, I remember when I used to come by to read Velcrometer and you'd be all like, "Dude, my office chair ROCKS. I had to throw some fool a beatin' cause he THOUGHT about fuckin' with my office chair. I LOVE my office chair."

For your sake, I miss the days when these were the most pressing concerns on your mind. I hope you're at least getting a chance to enjoy all the GOOD things that have happened to you since then, along with, you know, the hospital-type things. :)

By Blogger Omega, at December 7, 2004 at 11:49 AM  

So now you're not only one of the Damn Hell Ass Kings, you're also King of Life Evolution on a cosmic scale. Sorry about unpleasant hospital -fu and even less pleasant (or certain) results. A last straw, anyone? Jeez.

More than that, though, I'd like to compliment the Zen-like equanimity with which you've been navigating the past couple of months: M. Tiny almost two months early, the loss of Orca (about which I could not post because I was too busy snotting all over my kb), new kitties, and now MRI-ville. Any one of those is a milestone year for most people. The year the kid was born. The year the beloved pet died. The year the new cats came into the house.

The year of the Non-eurysm Scare. But here you are, posting with humor and insight about all the madness.

I'm with Zen Viking. Trivia saves, and certainly your stuffed, savant-like head will give no quarter to blowouts. In the meantime, enjoy that No-Heavy-Lifting ruling from Trash.

Muchas smuchas.

The artist formerly known as Auteurcakes.

By Blogger Angeltiger, at December 7, 2004 at 6:55 PM  

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