My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
functions of my dominant analytical left brain. Without those inhibiting thoughts, I had stepped beyond my perception of myself as an individual. Without my left brain available to help me identify myself as a complex organism made up of multiple interdependent systems or to define me as a distinct collection of fragmented functions, my consciousness ventured unfettered into the peaceful bliss of my divine right mind.
As I sat in the silence and pondered my new perceptions, I wondered how disabled I could become before the loss would be permanent. I contemplated how many circuits I could lose and how detached from my higher cognitive abilities I could tread and still have any hope of ever regaining normal function. I hadn't come this far to just die or become mentally vegetative! So I held my head in my hands and wept. Amidst my tears, I clenched my fists and prayed. I prayed for peace in my heart. I prayed for peace in my mind and I prayed, Please Great Spirit, don't shut down my life. And into the silence my mind implored, Hold on. Be still. Be quiet. Hold on.
I sat there in the middle of my living room for what seemed to be an eternity. When Steve appeared in the doorway, no words were exchanged. I handed him my doctor's card and he immediately called for instructions.
Promptly, he escorted me down the stairs and out the door. Gently, he guided me to his car, strapped me in, and reclined the seat. He wrapped my head with a scarf to shade my eyes from the light. He spoke softly, encouragingly patted my knee, and proceeded to drive to Mount Auburn Hospital.
By the time we arrived, I was still conscious but obviously delirious. They placed me in a wheelchair and led us into the waiting room. Steve was clearly distressed with their indifference to the severity of my condition, but he obediently filled out my paperwork and helped me sign my name. Waiting for our turn, I felt the energy in my body shift and like a balloon I deflated into my own lap, shifting into a semi-conscious condition. Steve insisted that I receive immediate attention!
I was taken to have a CT scan of my brain. They lifted me out of the wheelchair and placed me on the CT gurney. Despite the throbbing pain in my brain that was echoed by the thumping sounds of the machine's motor, I was conscious enough to find some satisfaction in learning that my selfdiagnosis had been correct. I was experiencing a rare form of stroke. I had a massive hemorrhage flooding the left hemisphere of my brain. Although I don't recall it, my medical records indicate that I was given an initial dose of steroids to slow the inflammation.
The agenda was to ship me immediately to Massachusetts General Hospital. My gurney was lifted and bolted into position in an ambulance for the ride across Boston. I remember that a kind-hearted paramedic accompanied me along my journey. With compassion, he wrapped me in a blanket and arranged a jacket over my face to protect my eyes. His touch upon my back was comforting; his gentle kindness, priceless.
I was finally free from worry. I curled up into a fetal ball and lay waiting. I understood that, on this morning, I had witnessed the step-by-step deterioration of my intricate neurological circuitry. I had always celebrated my life as a magnificent physical manifestation of my DNA, and oh, what a colorful genetic pool from which I had been spawned! For 37 years, I had been blessed with an agile mosaic of electrified biochemistry. And, like many folks, I had fantasized that I wanted to be awake when I died because I wanted to witness that remarkable final transition.
Just before noon, on December 10, 1996, the electrical vitality of my molecular mass grew dim, and when I felt my energy lift, my cognitive mind surrendered its connection to, and command over, my body's physical mechanics. Sanctioned deep within a sacred cocoon with a silent mind and a tranquil heart, I felt the enormousness of my energy lift. My body fell limp, and my consciousness rose

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