I will be operated on to put a shunt in my brain on Aug. 6 at 8:30. a.m. at Evanston Hospital. I should be there about 24 hours or so. Then home to recuperate and then back to this by my birthday, I think, on Aug. 23. Thank you all for your best wishes and sympathies.
A few years ago, I began feeling like there was something going wrong in my head. I talked to my doctor about dizziness, about tiredness at mid-day, about not being able to get rested in my bed at night.
I don’t think he was overly worried about it, but he eventually seemed as frustrated as I was about the symptoms. Still, I had just completed a book I have been reporting on for 16 years and I am happy with the outcome of that effort.
I still play music pretty well, remember all the songs I have written or borrowed from others and play diligently on my great old guitars. So there’s no sign of trouble in that level of performance.
A little bit of incontinence was added to the picture a couple of months ago. I’m not bursting forth in public, you know, but I have to be careful to not walk past any men’s rooms. (Or Women’s Rooms if a men’s room is not handy.)
Pee when you can is my new rule.
But I am almost 70 years old and have lived an interesting life, not to put it too graphically, so I expect some wear and tear in some regions of my body. But not in my brain, which I have treated quite well my whole life.
I am too cranky, I am told by my loved ones. I have lost patience. I spend way too much time sitting. I can’t keep up during walks. It’s hard for me to keep my thoughts in order.
And so on.
So I went to see a doctor who specializes in dizziness, and it looks like it might have been the smartest thing I have done in years.
I didn’t tell him that I was wacky, wet and wobbly or he might have understood. Normal Pressure Hydrocephlus is the diagnosis, I have learned now after months of testing and rushing around at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
In passing, I should note that if you ever have anything wrong with you, Northwestern Memorial Hospital is without question the best place to be. They are meticulous. Scientific. Complete. Kind and very interesting, too.
The dizziness doctor put me through about a dozen tests aimed at measuring balance and things connected to it. Most of them were normal. A couple of them were not, but guys my age tend to wobble anyhow, so no big deal.
Then he sent me for an MRI of my brain. I hate those things, of course, with their banging noises and the rest of it. But a clear picture emerged of what was happening in my ventricles, which were beyond normal in size and just the right evidence for a Normal Pressure Hydro. diagnosis.
While we are at it, that is a terrible name for a condition because you read “normal pressure” and think, “Terrific. I am fine.” Not the case at all. It’s not the rarest of ailments, but its rare enough so the typical internist is not going to go there without some strong evidence.
That’s where i am just now. The dizziness doctor had a team suck some spine juice out of my lumbar region to see if the change in pressure would make me a little less dizzy. It did, by a good measure. A day later, the symptoms returned as the fluid replaced itself.
So now I am lined up to see a grand brain surgeon in September, unfortunately on the 11th, to see what he suggests.
The thought is he will suggest installing a shunt that will drain the excess brain juice down through a tube and deposit it in my stomach, where it will be absorbed. There is hope, I am told, this procedure will clear up my symptoms.
Until this gets done, I am abandoning blogging about the presidential campaign. The condition can bring on dementia, and I am afraid I would not recognize any more crazy behavior from President Trump.
I want to thank my loyal followers for following so loyally! No need to worry about me. My wife is taking great care. My sons are in the area if needed and my dog, Lulu, is ever on the watch!
Charles Martin Madigan