I explained to the nurse in Emergency
I had a bad headache and now I can’t see.
(Vision loss is a stroke symptom—diagnostically.)
She didn’t handle it diligently.
Told me to wait—negligently.
That set off a warning bell for me.
I can’t wait here for eternity;
I would have to act more rapidly.
Then a psychiatric patient fell onto me.
I told them I was leaving immediately.
They said it was my responsibility.
I stumbled out into jumbled scenery.
The sun blinded and I could not see.
I went to a clinic where a doctor tested me.
“You have lost your vision peripherally.
Tell them at the hospital it’s an emergency.”
I had been there at one and now it was half past three.
I told the nurse what the doctor said to me,
but the wheels in the waiting room move slowly.
A sight chart was given at four, which I couldn’t see.
Then I was sat in a room alone until six-thirty.
A student doctor at that time tested me.
I realized this wasn’t eyes—but brain—suddenly.
I said to him—a stroke was a possibility.
“The doctor will give more tests,” he said quietly.
“Your inside eye exam is fine,” said the doctor in Emergency.
“I can’t see that poster behind you,” I said desperately.
“My binocular vision has gone—I scan continuously.
Have I explained my problem specifically?”
A CT scan was ordered for eight-thirty.
Within an hour I was told—hemorrhage cerebrally.
“You will be admitted here now at ten-thirty.
We have requested a transfer to Neurology.”
This was at another hospital with no availability.
Amid screams and snores wasn’t where I wanted to be.
My vision was scrambled but I was okay physically.
No treatment given or drugs intravenously.
In bed at home was where I wanted to be.
In the Emergency ward I didn’t sleep at all overnight
every two hours checked with a flashlight.
An old back injury had flared up again
when the bed and scan table increased my pain.
The second scan showed no increase in size.
Still no bed at Neurology—that’s no surprise.
The person who was in the bed next to me
was MRSA positive with a notice I couldn’t see.
This ward was not where I will progress.
I am not sleeping; this is adding more stress.
The popular press often the type of stroke conceal.
Please distinguish between a bleed and plug seal.
What’s the difference? you ask with a shrug.
An ischemic stroke blocks with a plug.
A hemorrhage in the brain will flood
and vessels will bleed trickles of blood.
The brain has been harmed by a bleeding hacker.
A silent killer or a function zapper.
Which one of your faculties would you choose?
And which of them not to lose?
I can’t see properly but I can speak.
In the Circle of Willis maybe a leak?
No, the right occipital lobe—and sight—
where the vessel burst late at night.
A headache woke me with a very bad throb;
now my brain has a damage control job.
The bleed enabled blood to escape.
The area formed into an ovoid shape.
It was two point eight centimetres in size,
the damage specific to where it lies.
The bleed in the right occipital section
cancelled in both eyes left side vision.
It changed the vision in my brain—
and back came the ocular migraine.
I only knew I could not see.
I lost my binocular capacity.
Homonymous hemianopia is the medical term;
blind spots in both eyes—my brain must relearn.
The awareness of knowing that the burst in my brain
is not a vision defect—but occipital cells to retrain.
The posterior cerebral artery—calcarine branch
gives the visual cortex a sight place to launch.
I have a parafovial field loss.
It means my vision is in chaos.
Distorted images overlap two blind spots.
A twisted and bizarre world is what I have got.
I have to accept I am left-hemifield blind.
I must try to stay calm—not go out of my mind.
Faces all jumbled, scenery askew.
“Please stay on my right,” I have to ask you.
I see a dark smudge up in the sky.
I realize it’s a bird flying by.
Where once a beautiful world was seen –
are blurs and scribbles within a split screen.
And when I focus on where things should be,
I have to rely on my memory.
And when my strange visuals I try to explain
I think of the cell panic within my brain.
Will the sight be restored in my right and left eye?
Will I ever see properly if the neurons die?
And then I noticed that colours had faded.
My paintings were bland—the pigments not shaded.
Yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and green
were the degrees of fading I had seen.
If I could plead with my brain—what would it say?
The gods have given and they have taken away?
I have painted portraits with subtle hues.
This is a facility I must not lose.
Dyschromatopsia—another fancy name—
for another visual function handled by the brain.
I told my neurons one thing was clear;
those faded colours must reappear.
My paintings were a benchmark of how colours should be
and I awaited their return so diligently.
In a vision map—colour is in V1,V8 and V3;
if it doesn’t repair—count on neuroplasticity.
There in V1 the blind spot is mapped
and the brain is dealing with what has been zapped.
Patterns, static and moving objects are also V1.
In the primary visual cortex damage control has begun.
Drowned neurons gasping for nutrition and air—
are desperately trying to inform what is there.
Their perception wiped out—they attempt to muster –
gathering in the cortical column—they cluster.
Lesions in the primary visual cortex lead to scotoma.
What a pretty name for a blind area’s misnomer.
Another one is—saccade—it sounds like a dance.
Searching continuously to see—if by chance.
But actually it is a constant eye movement
and it’s the brain’s instruction for improvement.
“Scan past the scotoma,” it orders the eyes—
“and you will be able to see—surprise !”
The optic nerve blind spot is overridden all right
and the neurons will try to interpret my sight.
Because I’m a writer, I write every day
with a pen, I have words to say.
A stroke won’t prevent me from writing things down,
but I cannot read it back, my cells are drowned.
Alexia sine agraphia—another attractive name.
I could write, but not read it—the bleed was to blame.
But I know what I wrote—off by heart.
Remembering it was often a start.
I read from right to left with this disability.
Gradually the letters came back to me.
Experiment with colours and shapes of a letter.
Dark colours are good—hard edges are better.
Scotoma practice with juxtaposition
remind the brain to spot an omission.
Look at the words and signs when you’re mobile.
Pass through the blind spots and make yourself smile.
Neurons revived would learn to compensate
and to their resurrection you must capitulate.
I needed peace, quiet, and rest to get well,
but the first weeks were sent from Hell !
Along came depression in forceful mode,
convincing me to detach and add to my load.
Insomnia visited each and every night –
giving three hours of sleep before daylight.
They conspired to torture and take their toll
as together they pushed me towards the black hole.
I cared about nothing—no interest, no hope.
Life seen through the wrong end of a telescope.
All meaning reduced to the head of a pin.
Any redemption must come from within.
Try a daily routine to capture the eyes,
rehabilitate the brain—reduce the bleed size.
No sight rehab program available for me,
so I designed one, which helped me to see.
I looked at a plant rack on a patio
with pots of flowers which I did know.
When some were invisible to me
I tried to persuade my brain to see.
A pot of yellow flowers was actually there,
but blind to me, even though I did stare.
I moved my gaze over, then back again.
If the pot appeared, begin to retrain.
A cast iron circle with several patterns
was a mass of scribbles, I was certain.
But I knew what those patterns actually were
and tried hard to form them from the blur.
As I sat in a car, a large vehicle passed my eyes
and I could read the bold print—what a surprise!
So the part of my vision that could see
had captured the moving banner for me.
Reading was a very difficult chore;
seeing word endings was a huge bore.
The beginnings of words can give a clue
to their actual meaning for you.
Until the healing of the bleed was next,
I had to capture a word from its context.
That most important organ is trapped in my head,
but if the bleed had been different, I would be dead.
My vision and colour returned eventually,
and I know my brain is a champion for me !