The Blogger’s Brain – an Inside View

I lost about half my vision one day, in about half an hour. If you want to know all about it, view my post Day 1.

It took a while before I was able to, as the specialist the next day said, “see what’s going on in there”.

When I did see I was astounded how hard it was to interpret the results. I’m a teacher and now I was thrust again into the position of a learner in a completely new field. It’s really, really hard, and the reminder will have helped me be a better teacher. From that point of view what happened has done me good.

At the end of this post is an image of one of these slices through my brain. I’ve known people who find this sort of thing worrying and can understand why. So if it could upset you please don’t look.

The scan scared me lots but I was eager to know what it would show. I guessed it would indicate a stroke, which is very serious of course. However the other possibilities, such as a tumor, would have been harder for me to deal with emotionally.

In the event the consultant was sure straightaway – you’ve had a stroke, he said.

Interested in the scan, I asked for a copy of the results. The hospital is very careful about the privacy of patient records of course, so I had to fill in a form and supply photo ID, and it took a while to process the application.

Now I have my CT files and associated report. I was a bit naive about the delivery. I don’t know what I expected but the package had to be signed for and the files are on a DVD that can only be opened from a password-protected program. A bit frightened of viewing the images at first, but scientific curiosity soon took over!

I saw immediately that I can’t interpret brain scans at all! I expected it to be hard but was shocked by the level of difficulty. So I’m working on this and trying to learn to read the images.

The key bit of the report is

“Appearances are consistent with subacute left occipital infarction.”

Even this is hard for a lay person to interpret. I’ve found out this much.

  • The occipital lobes are where vision is processed. There is cross-over, with the left-hand lobe processing the right-hand side of the vision in both eyes, and vice versa.
  • An infarction means a group of brain cells have been damaged because they lost blood supply.
  • Subacute means it happened between about a week and a month ago.

The stunning thing to me about all this is how much I’ve learned – about strokes and resulting visual impairment and about vision generally – and yet hardly begun to scratch the surface.

Here is just one brain section from the set I’m trying to get to grips with. There are about 40 of them and this example was chosen more or less randomly.

Example brain section

Image showing a horizontal section through the author’s brain


About partialinsight

One evening I had a stroke. Half my sight vanished overnight. Adapting made me grasp how amazing the visual system and brain are. It also taught me to understand disability completely differently and I'm grateful for the lesson.
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