I’ve gone five years without coverage, but it looks like I’m finally getting health insurance this week thanks to qualifying for Healthy L.A. It’s ignorant to say this, but I almost wish I didn’t. Based on some serious but very sporadic symptoms, two free clinic doctors diagnosed me with not just having a brain aneurysm. They also wouldn’t rule out a heart defect because a circulation problem would also fit.
Well, New York wasn’t too keen on helping people without insurance and basically ignored my attempts for aid because nothing was “proven yet”. Anyway, the EKG was affordable without aid, so I had that done shortly after the diagnosis and the heart checked out fine. The MRI for the brain was $4000 and NY refused to even assist me financially, so I never had the test. I did mention it to my parents and they said I didn’t have an aneurysm so it would be a waste of their money. Neither are doctors nor are particularly intelligent, but that’s how they’ve always rolled. It wasn’t worth fighting for, though my Grandma did try and told my mother that she was, and I quote, not being rational and should treat the matter seriously. As I recall, my mother snapped back at her: “Whose side are you on? Please don’t get involved if you aren’t going to be supportive.” It was an awkward dinner moment.
An aneurysm isn’t always dangerous since it can sit inactively in the brain for life, kind of like a volcano, but apparently the symptoms I exhibited suggested it had already bled twice, albeit slightly, into my brain. That’s why the docs suggested an MRI which is used to locate the exact location of a brain bleed rather than a CT scan, to merely confirmthat one exists.
What were my symptoms? The worst headache you can imagine followed by sudden and abrupt blindness, the bulging of veins by my temples, difficulty breathing, and complete bodily numbness. The first time it happened I was alone in my Sch’dy apartment in 2009 and I remember feeling a strange sensation much like standing up too quickly in the morning. I was holding a glass and quickly set it down, which turned out to be a good move since I collapsed on the floor right after. I wrote it off as simply standing up too quickly, but a few months later in 2010 it happened a second time when I was calmly sitting on a train, a completely unprovoked attack. Explain that.
Fortunately I haven’t had that situation occur again until last week. It wasn’t as severe, the blindness was very brief and there wasn’t any major pain. But those damn veins did pop out of the temples again and that freaks me out the most. Maybe I had a tiny aneurysm and it already burst during the first attack and it’s just been residual effects since. 30% of people survive it after all so it’s certainly possible. But it scares me because I just don’t know. Two doctors and my Aunt (a registered nurse) all think the same thing and if it’s true and it’s still there that would likely require brain surgery. And if it did already burst and I survived it, then that means I probably have some kind of mild brain damage. I can’t imagine there being zero consequences to something exploding in the brain, y’know? Which would make sense since my short term memory has steadily decreased since about that time. I took a memory test online and one of the questions involved having someone else list five animals for me to remember. Then a conversation of another topic takes place for a few minutes. After that, I’m asked to rename those five animals. I remembered none of them.
So I really don’t know what is happening. Maybe the medical professionals were all wrong. Maybe my parents, purely by accident and with zero basis, will luck out and be right in the end. But that doesn’t seem very likely.
It’s crossed my mind that I might be blowing this aneurysm thing out of proportion, but I’ve never been a hypochondriac. If anything I’m more prone to being stubborn and neglecting my health. I did that in college once when I had a horrific cough and was found immobilized on the bathroom floor of my campus apartment (it ended up being a severe case of walking pneumonia… I coughed so much that the lack of oxygen made me fall) so I really don’t think I’m overreacting.
I’ll find out soon, I guess. Whatever it is, I at least feel confident that I’ll overcome it. Aside from those two attacks, I haven’t had anything worse than a cold in almost seven years so I’m normaly extremely healthy. And being in my 20’s I’d be very likely to recover from an operation if it comes down to that. At least there’s the assurance that I’ll finally have a diagnosis. And at least that’s something, right?