[Continued from Part 1]
So what's going on behind that seemingly calm exterior is a very complicated series of manoeuvres aimed at keeping my body in some sort of precarious balance, and giving it the best chance to support the brain that's composing these words. The reason why what you're seeing is not utter rubbish so far is that the cognitive part of the brain is not yet affected, and I still have the ability to get those words down in front of you in some sort of logical form. It can't always be that way.
Meanwhile, the tumour, and its effects, keep on extending. Essentially, the presence of the tumour has succeeded in burning out most of the major functions of the right arm and leg simply by inhibiting and scrambling the signals to and from the brain. I've been fiercely trying to protect the tiny ability of the leg to move from the hip, even though the lower joints are unreliable. That allows me to go minimal distances, but ones which are critical. To the bathroom and back, for example.
After hundreds of seizures, the tumour had just one last destructive mission to carry out on the right hand – an attack on a little bit it had not dealt with fully.
I had retained a slight ability to grasp something between fingers and thumb. A concerted attack over the course of several weeks a couple of months ago achieved its goal – to destroy the ability of the index finger and thumb to coordinate and grip, even slightly.
I now have two different seizure phenomena beginning to take place, as anyone will know from reading the medical side of this blog – seizure attacks on new and unexplored territory.
The first is the tumour's attack on the throat and larynx – the voicebox – which has resulted in a series of seizures that at times have rendered me either speechless or unintelligible, although cognition has remained. In other words, under one of those attacks, I can think the words quite clearly, but I cannot say them.
I begin to appreciate what those who stammer go through.
The second, and more recent, is the attack by seizures which have now affected my head, causing loss of control of facial muscles, especially those around the eyes, my mouth and ears. Sometimes my head feels as if it is in danger of bursting at the seams.
Perhaps it is.
I expect these to get worse before the tumour's effects move on to other parts of my body, but who can tell? Blindness and/or loss of hearing may strike next, at any time, as could loss of control over bodily functions.
Tracey is the only one who has seen the facial seizures. Quite often I am alone in bed when a seizure hits. I try to gauge its severity, and whether or not it's worthwhile to call Tracey in. It may appear to strike only the hand, and yet I may lose my ability to speak at this time, or immediately afterwards.
Most of these seizures take anywhere between fifteen minutes and half an hour to recover from. I'm talking about the immediate effects here; the longer term effects may only be apparent at some later stage and usually they are much more crippling.
When you see all that can possibly happen, you might say that for the best part of four years, I've been very lucky in certain respects. The effect of a tumour on other parts of the brain could have been more devastating at a much earlier stage.
Explaining this in words is the only way I can pass on to you a clearer picture of the physical extent and effects of this tumour at this stage. I haven't even touched on the psychological effects of the escalating breakdown of the physical body in recent months, and the effect it has on our family.
That would take another entire blog piece – one that would rightly centre on Tracey, and not just in her role as carer. It is a vast understatement to say that it's a story needing to be told in its own right.
Thus far, I can live a life with reasonable quality in many respects, but even this time is passing very rapidly. We simply don't know what the next phase will be, except that it cannot possibly be a better one, because we have nothing left to be able to make it so.