Who Needs Motor Skills?




May 13, 2005 at 12:02 pm

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I had the oddest experience last night while visiting my parents.

I felt absolutely fine, but midway through a movie and our conversation, I was struck with what can best be described as instant drunkenness. I was slurring my speech (and quite aware of that fact), and the world spun when I stood up.

I was frustrated, but I still felt physically fine. Of course, that wasn’t much consolation to my Mom, who was insisting on taking me to the E.R. immediately (She suspected I’d just had a stroke.)

I’ve never experienced symptoms to that extent before, and it was quite unnerving. Despite lacking the motor skills one needs to speak and move properly, my brain was working perfectly, however. I’m in no hurry to be poked and prodded by anyone other than my OS during routine post-op knee checkups, so I negotiated with my rightfully-concerned parents and brother — “I probably just need some sugar. If that doesn’t help, THEN we’ll see…”

On very rare occasions — only several instances in my lifetime — I’ve gotten light-headed and had some difficulty focusing (visually, not mentally). No pain, no disorientation, but definitely unsteady and a little “fuzzy” in my reaction times.

Sugar has always helped in those instances, and nearly immediately so, in fact. A fresh can of Dr. Pepper, some ice cream, a butterscotch candy, etc. After an ice cream bar, more frequent sips of my Dr. Pepper, and a fair amount of corn chips and salsa, I was back to feeling — and more importantly, behaving — perfectly normally. I drove myself home and have been fine since, but it was definitely an odd feeling.

I’ve done this, or things like it, to myself several times in my life:

Once, I reached borderline heat stroke

in late summer (100°F) with Justin’s family.

We began the hike with 1 pint of water each, and I was the idiot who decided to carry a loaded backpack and truck along at my normal hiking pace ahead of the group.

I nearly didn’t make it out of there — I stopped perspiring, my mouth went completely dry, my stomach felt wretched, my brain got addled (”Just leave me here. I just need a nap. Leave me here, and I’ll catch up.” — Yeah, right!) and my emotions went haywire. Not fun.

Copious amounts of water and carbonated sodas from a vending machine in the parking lot restored me to normality.

Another instance was, in retrospect, not surprising. I’d just had my first three wisdom teeth extracted under nitrous oxide. The procedure went incredibly quickly, and aside from the bulky gauze pads packed against my gums, I felt terrific. So terrific that I talked all the way home and quite a bit when we reached the house.

Then, as quickly as that, I remember everything going absolutely dark — darker than if you close your eyes. I had just long enough to matter-of-factly say, “Weird, everything just went completely dark–” before I apparently passed out.

My parents, whom I’d been talking to up a storm at the time, finally convinced me to lie down after that!

The only instances similar to yesterday’s experience that I can recall, all involve flights I’ve taken with Justin in the single-engine aircraft we rent.

The first symptom on flights, however, is a headache. I reliably develop a headache anytime I fly — General Aviation or commercial airline, it doesn’t matter; I attribute it to my ears failing to adjust to changing air pressure as quickly as they should (chewing gum doesn’t prevent the pain.)

But aside from the headache, I develop a few similar symptoms to last night’s odd episode: my eyesight gets a little “fuzzy,” and that is soon accompanied by a listlessness and light-headedness — at its worst, I’ll go quiet because talking is too much effort and, with the companion headache and resulting nausea, I just need to “be” until we can land and I can lie down. The visual effects, I’ve always blamed it on all the time spent staring through my camera’s viewfinder and then having to readjust to looking away from the camera. All of these symptoms, aside from the headache and headache-induced nausea, are alleviated quite simply with a cold Dr. Pepper or similar sugar/caffeine soft drink when we land.

So why the drama yesterday evening? It seems pretty obvious, after the fact. I’d had a busy day running errands, mostly to finalize the great

(read: I wimped out and bought another 80lb. bag of concrete mix; better that, then the whole thing crashing down on our deck in the next Texas thunderstorm!).

I’d bought, mixed and set the new concrete after having walked 4.6 miles for exercise that morning.

I spent a lot of time outside, soaking up a lot of sun but probably still not drinking enough fluids to compensate. I did take a short break at home, working on my computer, before heading to my parents to visit them and my brother when they got off work.

The problem is, nowhere in there did I stop and EAT SOMETHING.

With all the yard work and walking, I drank a lot of water and, earlier in the day, one Sprite, but that was all my body was working with for energy and nutrients.

As Julia Roberts’ character in “Pretty Woman” so eloquently states, “Big mistake….Huge!”

Somehow, I just hadn’t been hungry enough to stop and fix myself something to eat yesterday. Well, I won’t let that happen again.


“Mr. Banks, you have what is called a ‘Brain Cloud’….” — Joe vs. the Volcano




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