The above is an image from a series of MRIs that were taken within days of the stroke. The dark grey area is the area that was affected by oxygen loss during the stroke. That area is now dormant or idling. Someone asked me to talk about the physical changes in my brain, so I’m going to talk a little bit about that in this post.
Okay. So here are the (very basic) basics. When looking at an image from an MRI, you’re typically looking at it in reverse. The image above has an R and an L to indicate which hemisphere is pictured on which side of the image. In the scan above, you’re looking at the right hemisphere of my brain on the left side of the image, and the left hemisphere on the right side of the image. This is a superior view (top) of my brain, meaning the view is from the top of my head looking down at my brain. The right hemisphere largely controls the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere largely controls the right side of the body.
Because my MRI scans are of a superior view, I can only give a recap of what I’ve been told has been damaged: the cerebellum and surrounding areas of the PCA (posterior cerebral artery, located in the occipital lobe/SCA (superior cerebellar artery, near the ocular nerve that separates it from the PCA) junction. Since the MRI scans that I have are from a superior view, I can’t say what areas closer to the top of my brain were affected. My neurologist went over the scans with me at one point, but I was too “out of it” to retain much of the information. Looking into the symptoms of other areas that may have been affected, I feel that I’ve garnered a better understanding of what areas are likely to have been impacted, even slightly, by the stroke.
See the below image for a brief reference guide to areas and views of the brain. I’ll use this image as a reference chart for this post.
I don’t know where I got this image, except that I got it from a Google search when I was doing a little bit of learning, so I’m unable to give proper credit.
Based on my scans and diagnosis, the most impacted area is the left hemisphere cerebellum.
These are the residual affects that I have experienced, or am continuing to experience:
I initially experienced 50% vision loss in the upper and lower right hand quadrants of both eyes. I’ve gained 2% back and now test at 48% vision loss. You go, little dendrites!
Difficulty with short term memory
I struggle with my long-term memories too, but most obvious are the short term memory quirks. They’ve caused quite a bit of trouble.
Very slight hearing loss in my right ear. I notice it from time to time, so it’s not a big issue for me.
Sensory association deficits
Diminished sensation in the right half of my body. I can touch something and not realize I’m touching it. I sometimes have to look at my limbs in order to know what they’re in contact with for what they’re doing. The most difficult aspect of this is that I don’t always know where my limbs are in space. I mean, I can tell in a vague sense, but I sometimes need the visual input in order to confirm where my limbs are.
The damage to this area caused aphasia, which has now turned into anomia. Progress!
Motor function area
The damage to this area causes my barely detectable – I’m not sure if it’s detectable at all anymore – nystagmus.
Higher mental functions area
Damage here is now mostly noticeable by tiny outbursts that typically happen when I’m frustrated. It really annoys me. I don’t mean to be rude, or snappish, or to cut people off when they’re talking, but it happens. It’s gotten much more easy to control, but I still slip every once in awhile.
I also went through that period of “growing up again”. And oyyy, that was seriously… ick. From total reliance on Adam, the way an infant or toddler would rely on a caregiver, to adolescent antics, pubescent tantrums, teenage whatever, and finally back to adulthood. That was one insane ride.
That sounds like a lot of really, really bad and obvious things. They were, at the time. The symptoms that are still noticeable now are the tremors (very noticeable), lack of coordination and balance due to tremors/ataxia, difficulties with memory, and vision loss. People who have known me longer than two years likely notice the change in my voice (it’s slightly higher than it was before the stroke.). My speech does get difficult to understand when I’m tired or I’m talking faster than I should be.
Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell.