Prelude: Many people have approached me in the three weeks since my temporary amnesia/aphasia event saying something like “It must have been scary.” It was scary in 2002. At that time, with similar symptoms, I had no idea what the future held. It scared the sh%$ out of me.
Since it happened before, this time wasn’t so scary. For the first hour in 2017, I had no idea what was happening. Why would I be scared if I had no idea what was going on!
During the second hour I could sense I was remembering more and speaking a little more clearly. I was not scared; I was encouraged, especially since I remembered that previously in 2002 I came out the other end just fine.
If it happened again in the coming year, now that would be scary!
So, what do we know with any certainty? Not much.
Fact #1: On June 27, 2017, I had a temporary episode of amnesia (I didn’t remember squat) and aphasia (gibberish flowed from my mouth).
TIA or TEA are acronyms being thrown around as possible diagnoses.
TIA stands for a transient ischemic attack (ischemic relating to the heart).
Re: TIA. My echocardiogram and carotid artery tests suggest that my ticker is doing just fine. No surprise, my parents lived healthy lives into their 90s. To cover all bases, the neurologist wants me to start taking baby aspirin daily, just in case. Aspirin prevents blood clots from forming in the arteries. It can help certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke.
I have no limit on my physical activity; pickleball, ping pong, and working out at the gym top my agenda.
Next week, the neurologist wants me to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours, which will continuously record my heart’s activity as I go about my daily activities. I’ll keep you updated.
But a TIA is not the neurologist’s first choice.
It’s the TEA. TEA stands for transient epileptiform amnesia (which in my case might apply since the neurologist couldn’t rule out some form of epilepsy after reading my EEG (electroencephalogram). So, there’s no certainty, but it’s the leading choice in the clubhouse.
To cover all bases again, I have been put on a low dose (500 mg twice a day) of Keppra to prevent seizures, if some form of epilepsy is what I have.
The bottom line is that the neurologist doesn’t know what caused my temporary amnesia/aphasia.
So, a reasonably wide net has been thrown to cover a host of possibilities. I get that and am thankful for the caution.
After such an event, by law I am not allowed to drive for three months. I get that caution, too. Not driving will be inconvenient but hardly a sacrifice. I am retired. Hannah and I regularly play pickleball and go to the gym together. I have a modest social life (read: limited).
So, for three months, we err on the side of caution despite an uncertain diagnosis and no explanation for a cause.
I wonder whether dehydration due to caffeine consumption and not drinking enough water (2002) and not drinking enough water (2017) might have triggered the temporary amnesia/aphasia. The medical professionals never suggest such a connection. And why this time, when I have been dehydrated many times before?
Without any explanation for the cause of my two events (2002 and 2017), I still wonder.
Whether dehydration had anything to do with my temporary amnesia/aphasia, I have become a zealot for drinking water daily. Each morning when I awake, I drink two eight-ounce glasses of water. Three more follow: mid-morning, before lunch, and with lunch. Dehydration will not be the cause of any future such event.
I live in a town on the coast of Maine with a great community hospital and in a country with excellent Medicare health coverage for seniors. I’d recommend York Hospital for its effective loving kindness health care.
Since posting of these blogs, I have appreciated many people contacting me and wishing me well.
I heard from a childhood friend who referred to me as Brother Dan in his email of support.
Thank you, Brother Tom.