The theory of devolution

Huh. I got so busy blubbering away in my last blog post that I forgot to mention whether or not the M.R.I. results showed any more damage from the stroke or M.S.

Yup. More crap on the M.R.I. Pardon my medical jargon.

See, evidently, strokes “evolve.” This I did not know. I thought they stroked and that was it, but no, they evolve. They keep on munching out bits o’ brain at their will. Nasty little things. Mine “evolved” from 2 cm to 6 cm. And just to keep up with the Joneses, my old pal, M.S. decided to throw in a new plaque also.

This is where Darwin and I part company. I no longer believe in the theory of evolution, because I do not want this blot on my brain to get any bigger. It already feels dangerously close to the place where I keep information about old episodes of Cagney and Lacey.

It’s bad enough to know that everyone’s brain shrinks as they get older—it’s just part of aging. A normal brain kind of tucks in its edges as it gets older, so it rattles around in the skull a bit more.

But my brain goes at it with more than usual gusto. First, we have the stroke. The Blitz. The grand mal seizures (at least three) followed by the stroke that threw my entire brain into topsy-turvy land. That wrecked who knows how many millions of cells. If only my third grade teacher, Mrs. Clawson, was still alive! I sure could use a refresher in multiplication tables. Do you hear me, Mrs. Emily Clawson?

And then we have M.S., which gnaws away at the sheath that covers the nerve fibers in my brain, exposing them like bare wires to short circuit. Zap! You’re fried! The fun part is that it’s anybody’s guess where the gnawing will occur in the brain or on the spinal column, so what damage will happen is always a surprise.

Speaking of damages, Mrs. Clawson had a way with them. The first marking period of third grade, I got a C in science. I had never gotten a C in anything. My mother was perplexed, her faith in me shaken. During the parent-teacher conference, my mother demanded an explanation. Mrs. Clawson delivered.

“Well,” said Mrs. Clawson, in that chalk-coated, properly-punctuated way, “we did not cover any science this term; therefore every student received a grade of C.”

Surprise! You are a C student! Next, please.

Speaking of surprises, Mrs. Clawson always delivered one every summer. She always showed up one day in her bathing suit with her synchronized swim team, “The Ripples,” at our neighborhood pool to entertain us with their semi-coordinated dipping and dabbling. Believe me, seeing your 43-year-old teacher in her bathing suit and flowered cap is a sight you do not forget, especially if until this very week you were convinced she was nearing retirement when you saw her. All I can think of when I see synchronized swimming is my third-grade teacher being ridiculous on a hot summer day in New Jersey while I wait impatiently to swim. You can imagine the clever names we called the group.

Speaking of ripples, that brings us back to the stroke, which rippled from 2 cm to 6 cm, remember? And the rippling infections that came with it did even more damage. They impacted my pancreas. Ergo diabetes. Ergo danke shoen. Last night I dared to eat a mini doughnut that my son had left around. Ergo blood sugar chaos this morning.

Is there no end to the fun?

Speaking of fun, Mrs. Clawson evolved to become my sixth grade teacher, so she was my teacher for two of the 38 years she taught in my hometown. She lived to be 94, probably dipping and dabbling all the way.

Speaking of dipping, I’m trying to decide if I’m going to dip into another M.S. “disease modifying treatment” again, since the latest M.R.I. (see above) showed a new lesion, about which yippee. I’ve tried Avonex but gave up because it felt like I had the flu all the time (its best-known and worst side-effect), and of course I had to give up on BrainScar (if you’re not sure what that did to me, check the archives of this blog).

I’m considering Copaxone, which has been around a long time, and whose worst side effect is lipoatrophy. That means you might get dimples in your skin where you give yourself the little shot because the layer of fat under the skin gets flattened out.

Speaking of dimples, if I decide to start taking this drug, I will be sure to keep them out of sight. I get teased about dimples enough already.



4 thoughts on “The theory of devolution

  1. I am really enjoying your writings. You must have been very smart at one time because I still feel you are smart and a very good writer. I can not imagine all the things you have gone thru and still can write it all down on paper. Keep up the good work. I pray the new meds will help with your MS and you will have no more strokes or seizures.

  2. You bring me happy memories of being with you in BOTH of Mrs. Clawson’s classes (third and 6th grades). I don’t think I knew about the synchronized swimming thing. In her final years she attended regularly at my dad’s church, so i got to see her in her 80’s a couple of times while visiting Caldwell. She will always be a special memory for me. Thanks for reminding me…

    • She was something special, all right. Do you remember the piano chord to be quiet? Do you remember the sentence with seven instances of the word “that” in a row? So many things I had to leave out!

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