Whales Are A Murderous Pod of Swine
My neurologist and brain surgeon sent me a couple of interesting medical journal pieces this week, to help with a piece I’m writing, that focus on the incidence of subarachnoid hemorrhages, with particular reference to distribution by region, age, gender and time trends.
Things I learned reading these articles included:
- While various studies have shown that clot-based strokes have been declining in recent years, a similar decline has not been noted in subarachnoid hemorrhages (“SAH”) resulting from aneurysms. In fact, a recent report based on data generated by the National Health Service in Scotland showed that incidence rates for SAH remained stable between 1986 and 2005. International studies have shown, at best, moderate declines in SAH.
- This may be because the reduction in risk factors is more effective in older people (where most strokes generally occur) than in younger people (who are most at risk of SAH).
- While the incidence of SAH increases with age (in populations with a mean age of 35 years, it has been observed that for every year of increase in mean age, incidence is 1.06 times higher), because hemorrhagic strokes occur at a relatively young age and have a high incidence of fatality, the loss of productive life years from SAH is as large as that from ischemic strokes.
- After accounting for effects of aging, the incidence of SAH remains broadly level among the groups under 40 and for each decade of life thereafter.
- Stroke fatality increases substantially with age, and in recent years fatality rates for younger stroke patients have dropped dramatically while remaining level for elderly patients.
Putting all this together may explain why I feel like I’m coming across a lot of young stroke survivors in my stroke journey. But! The most interesting thing I learned was that whales have a machine that can induce stroke in humans by means of subarachnoid hemorrhage. How else to explain that incidence in Japan and Finland is twice that of the general population? You can’t. Whales are just utter bastards.
British Greetings Cards Are Better Than American Ones
In any given year, I probably get a pretty even distribution of greeting cards from the US and the UK, and I’d have to say that I probably tend to enjoy the British ones a little more. They seem less ploddingly sincere. If you follow me on instagram, you may be aware of my rage concerning the ruination of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” meme. For those of you who aren’t aware, “Keep Calm and Carry On” originated as a propaganda poster poster produced by the British government at the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities (thanks, wikipedia!). In that context, its timeless, nay, contemporary, look is particularly striking. But bullshit like the “Keep Calm and Be Merry” Christmas cards I saw last month could only show up in today’s lazy, money-grubbing, endlessly recycling world. Now, I don’t know where those came from, but I’ve got to assume that the “Keep Calm And Trust God” cards I also saw are of US origin, even if the evangelical mindset seems increasingly popular on the other side of the Atlantic, too.
What does this have to do with the mission statement of this blog? Well, stroke survivors have to deal with irrational, uncontrollable rage. And, I more recently saw another card that very nearly set me off again, thinking of how I would have felt had I received it in hospital while feeling that every second was going to bring something else troubling my agonized left side, or another catheter-based genital attack. The card opened with the line “Sometimes things happen for a reason…” But let’s face it, often they don’t. And if God’s Plan involves striking down men in their thirties who are having the time of their lives, that’s a pretty messed up plan. But, I calmed down when I read the misanthropic inside of the card:
“Sometime things happen for a reason. And sometimes life just sucks.”
Dance Dance Revolution for Stroke Patients
I received a comment the other day regarding the link to Bioness’s Dynavision D2 product. The linked page incorporated a YouTube video, which meant the link might be blocked for those of you at work.
I described it as “Dance Dance Revolution for stroke patients“, but the full story is, the user stands in front of a large board covered in small green and red lights at different heights and distances from centre. If a green light lights, the user presses it before it goes out. Red light: leave it alone. Meanwhile, a three digit number flashes up in the center of the board. The user calls out the number before pressing (or not pressing) the green (or red) button. Add a balance mat for an extra degree of difficulty.
Meanwhile, physical therapy continues apace, and this week I did a variant on this type of multi-tasking distraction exercise in possibly the most New York therapy exercise ever: walking along a corridor at pace while texting and weaving between cones. Booting the cones out of the way as if they were tourists was optional, but I pulled it off pretty smoothly nevertheless.
This last observation truly is unrelated to traumatic brain injuries, except as an example of something one can get up to during recovery, but I wanted to mention it anyway. Given the high incidence of stroke and unemployment at Brown-Monahan Towers, a trip to the Met Opera is a bit of a stretch these days, but last night we took advantage of the their Live in HD program and went to see the encore performance of Maria Stuarda (or, Mary Queen of Scots), at the Regal Stadium 14 cinema off Union Square. It’s a great, reasonably-priced way to see opera, particularly if, like me, you like a bit of opera, but are most familiar with it through Loony Toons. [Brilliantly, when we saw the Barber of Seville at the Met last year, at the end of Act I a gigantic anvil fell from the sky and crushed a wagon full of pumpkins.] And you can dispatch a Buncha Crunch and a Bloomberg-baiting vat of soda in your big, comfy, stadium theatre chair, and they can’t touch you for it. Highly recommended.