Brain Cells Aren’t that Great

All the texts on the subject sing the praises of the wonderful brain and how it works.  For example,here’s  an excerpt from Living with Stroke, by RichardC. Senelick, MD:  “The brain is bursting with energy.  It consists of billions of nerve cells called neurons.  Despite its lumpy appearance, the brain is very active and very well organized –and in touch with all its “employees.”


Brain cells are control freaks

–Nothing happens until they say so.  You don’t blink, or scratch, or wave, without the brain cells responsible for blinking, scratching , and waving , saying so.  Specific instruction has to come from the brain cells, or nothing will happen. There is no auto pilot or default.

Brain Cells are always hungry


Brain cells, like vampires, have an insatiable appetite for rich, red blood. They need the oxygen and nutrients that come with blood pumped fresh from the lungs.They use about 20″% of the total blood supply in the body.  If something interrupts the supply of fresh blood to these brain cells–which is what happens during a stroke—they just stop sending any electronic messages, and then just give up and die!  ‘OH, boo-hoo, lunch is late,so let’s just paralyze his arm and leg,and then go dark forever.’  Not very effective behavior  for such high-powered , supposedly smart cells.     If this is how our best and brightest behave, it’s no wonder so many guys get themselves in trouble when they start listening to the cells in that other “brain.

Silent EXPLOSION…More stroke notes

I’ve been hit hard–concussed–playing rugby; and I’ve been in serious car accidents.  I was in all cases aware that a major event was happening.  I braced for some pain, and it came.With stroke, I woke up, and it had happened.It was like an explosion went off in my head while I wasn’t looking, blowing away most of the furniture in the room, and blowing the windows out, but there was no noise,no big blast.  They say that denial is one of the typical symptoms of a right-side stroke, and I can see why. —Except for the damage, it’s hard to understand that something huge and devastating happened.Then, as you gradually learn what occurred, and you come to understand how serious and long-term a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is, it floors you.  Goodbye, denial!

Most of the damage occurred for me while I was unconscious.  It started with a drfting off—the sensation of falling into an abyss–on the left side; and then I remember lying on the floor, flopping around like a fish on a dock, my left arm like a stubby flipper, unable to sit up.The effects are long-lasting, and they require ongoing work and therapy.  Progress, not perfection, is the goal each day.



MY LEFT HAND HAS NO EARS….. (but I talk to it anyway)

ON JULY 17th I had a major stroke on the   right side, mid-brain.I lost use of my left hand and leg, and my cognitive skills were scrambled quite a bit.

So,my left hand just lays there..It won’t respond to the thoughts or instructions that my brain sends to it…. I look at it, trying to will it to move, I talk to it, urging it to move, to grasp, to make a fist.I talk to it, even though it has no way o f hearing me.   And then it occurred to me–We talk to lots of things that have no ears.  We talk to the television, to cars on the highway,to golf balls,to cue balls,our computer, and all sorts of inanimate objects.My conclusion is that we are, of course, talking primarily to ourselves all this time–either affirmingwhat we believe and/or hope, or venting frustration to the world’s big ear. We’re trying to be brave and be heard.


Recovering from a stroke takes all the bravery that you AND your loved ones have.Softness in your brain where things used to be sharp causes gaps in communicating  and perception.I was fortunate to spend some time in a great rehab facility, the Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Reading,PA, a place with lots of caring folks who know how recovery works.(www.


The upside–the benefit– of the stroke is that it provides a great opportnity to evaluate, and to understand what is truly important in your life.   When a good chunk of who you are is taken away, you see what you were with new clarity.  Typing one-handed is slow, and it slows the thought process in writing, but I just read back over some of the comments that you have bee kind enough to send, and i’mgoing to keep at it.  Thanks.