Brain Drain

Have you ever walked into a room and couldn’t remember why you were entering that room? I have the answer as to why that phenomenon is common among us old folks. Bear with me.

It’s no surprise that my annual headaches were visiting me again. They often arrive every year like clockwork, or calendar work, usually around Labor Day. But this year, they are getting to me a month earlier. Ever since I was a little boy, I have experienced severe headaches caused by sinusitis. “Sinusitis is present when the tissue lining the sinuses become swollen or inflamed.”

I first experienced sinusitis when our family planned a week at Blackhawk Lake by Lake View in Sac County. A friend of my mother’s offered her family’s cabin by the lake for us to use. After two days, little Marty was so miserable his pain and discomfort was affecting the entire family. We had to go home. Since that humid, overcast day in my ninth or tenth year, I get the familiar pounding in the head around the first of September. Not this year. It began around the first of August.

So, the doctor ordered a CT scan of my head, and in particular, my sinuses. I have no idea what sort of treatment would be recommended as a follow-up. You can’t remove sinuses; they’re holes in your head – literally. The procedure took a week to schedule and less than two minutes to complete. I received a copy of the results in the mail a few days ago.

“The CT scan of your sinuses was unremarkable.” That unremarkable word threw me for a loop. I thought it was rather rude of the physician assistant who interpreted the results to offer such a deplorable remark. Could it be my understanding of the word “unremarkable” was a misunderstanding? I had to research it.

“Unremarkable is a term that is often used in healthcare to indicate that something is benign. Unremarkable meaning describes the report as normal, which means that there is nothing to report. Nevertheless, it’s a very powerful word used by radiologists that is helpful for medical experts.” Unremarkable also means “ordinary.” Now, that hurts. My sinuses are anything but ordinary.

It was the second paragraph of the letter that made me laugh.

“The head CT showed changes in brain volume. We start losing brain volume in our 30’s and 40’s, and at an increasing rate by age 60.”

It gives new meaning to the platitudes: “If I had half a brain.” Or “air head,” or, “I must be losing my mind!”

I guess that’s why I can never remember where I placed the car keys, or why I went into the kitchen, or . . . where was I going with this?”

My original complaint to the doctor was that I was feeling pressure against my head. Sometimes it felt like a piano was balancing on top of my head. If the volume of brain matter is decreasing, why would I experience pressure? I’m sure the doctor will explain this to me unless he orders more tests.

There’s a lesson in this story. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is. I’m lacking gray matter. And that’s a fact!


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One Response to Brain Drain

  1. Mike "Scotty" Scott says:

    Marty, I never know you dealt with this over all these years. I was in Vail yesterday to swing by the cemetary to visit my parents grade. It looked like Homer’s is shuttered for good.
    A historical shrine to those in the know.

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