Talk and Die

Ever hear the story of the little kid who tripped over his own feet, took a tumble, got up and ran off to play…and then died later that night?  Remember Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson’s unlucky wife who took a seemingly insignificant spill while skiing, seemed okay, and refused treatment…and ended up dying later on?

See?  This is why I’m so cautious and wary of head injuries, even minor bumps on the head…especially when it involves my child.  Maybe sometimes I seem like I’m paranoid, or a hypochondriac; probably I am.  They (whoever “they” are) also say a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  So maybe it’s a combination of too much knowledge and too much anxiety (and too little Valium.)

Once, I was in a car accident, rear-ended by some bitch in an SUV.  I don’t just say that cuz she hit me; she actually was a bitch.  I wasn’t really hurt, but I got an almost immediate migraine.  So I had rode in the ambo, strapped to a backboard, to the ER.  The doctors didn’t even seem to think a CAT scan was necessary, but I made them do one. (It was kind of funny; I mentioned something about meningeal tears or something and the doctor gave me this stupid look and that was the end of the discussion.)  It ended up being not much more than really sever whiplash which set off a migraine…but it could have been serious.

It’s called “talk and die syndrome,” and it’s a sneaky bastard.  

They may not show signs of concussion or cranial bleeding, and they may be talking and have no difficulty walking or have other symptoms of neural damage. However, as the condition progresses, the person gets suddenly much worse, and damage at this point may be too significant to cure. In these cases, people go from talking and seeming fine, to comas or unconsciousness, from which they may not recover.  (source)

There are actually a few different types of injuries that can result in talk and die; the syndrome itself is more of a result than a cause of death from head injury, and is also known by the term lucid interval.  

One of the main causes is arterial dissection, resulting in an epidural hematoma, which in turn puts pressure on the brain as it grows in size.  Sometimes minor arterial tears can result in blood clots that could eventually cause a stroke.  People who are on aspirin or blood thinners may be at a higher risk for more serious injuries.

These types of head injuries may be comparable to or resulting from the types of contrecoup injuries sustained by people in automobile accidents who are traveling at great speeds and come to an abrupt stop (usually against an immovable object.)

Most fatalities are the result of relatively high speed impact (probably greater than 27 mph) with a fixed object (like a tree). (source.)

Basically, your brain smacks around inside your skull.

Fatalities from head injuries of these types can sometimes be prevented if the damage is caught early on.  Sometimes, fatalities can occur even with early detection.  Your best bet if you have any doubts or fears after a fall, collision, or similar injury is to be evaluated.  In the event that you decide not to be evaluated, recognizing the symptoms of a possible brain injury is critical.

Nausea, severe headache, glossy eyes, sudden sleepiness, are all common symptoms. Getting to a hospital within the first few hours is critical to prevent permanent brain damage, experts say… Immediate treatment is essential after a brain injury because the initial damage caused by swelling often is irreversible. (source)

So there’s your daily dose of info from me, plus some fuel for your hypochondria.  But seriously, it pays to play it safe with your brain.  Literally.  The human body is complex, strong and yet fragile.  Some people survived terrible accidents– shootings, stabbings, fire.  They have suffered terrible injuries to their bodies, and have made recoveries that were nothing short of miraculous, defying the odds simply by living.  Jacqueline Saburido was hit by a drunk driver and trapped in her burning car for almost a minute and suffered burns to 60% of her body.   Other people have died from seemingly insignificant mishaps or injuries.  Rita Johnson died of brain injury after being hit on the head with a falling hair dryer.  Howard Hawks suffered brain injury after tripping over his dog.

Bottom line is when in doubt, get checked out…and don’t let other people make you feel foolish for “being a worrywart” or a hypochondria.  You only get one life.

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“This is Bat Country!”

Been back on a Fishdom kick lately.  You know, that game where you match little  shapes, the object of which is to clear each level. In some of the Fishdom games, if you connect a certain number of like shapes, you get a “power-up” in the form of a bomb that blasts away all shapes in a given radius.  I played the game for a while many months ago, until I basically got all played out on it, and just recently picked the game back up again, as a nice addicting little diversion.

And now every time I close my eyes I feel like I’m in a Hunter S. Thompson book or something.  Not, not really.  Actually, my first irrational thought was that I had somehow spent so much time camped out in front of my little Netbook screen that the game images were burned into my corneas.  Because when I close my eyes or blink, or walk into a dark room, I see crabs.  Little blue crabs.  And sometimes anchors or cornucopias.    I see them in a sort of bright black, negative image, like the floaters you might see from staring at a bright light or the sun.

Eek! I’ve got crabs!

So I did what any self-respecting quasi-hypochondriac would do…  I Googled it.   And it turns out what I’m experiencing is not an unheard of phenomenon.  It even has a name.  The Tetris Effect.

People who play Tetris for a prolonged amount of time may then find themselves thinking about ways different shapes in the real world can fit together, such as the boxes on a supermarket shelf or the buildings on a street.  In this sense, the Tetris effect is a form of habit. They might also dream about falling Tetris shapes when drifting off to sleep or see images of falling Tetris shapes at the edges of their visual fields or when they close their eyes.

The Tetris effect can occur with other video games, with any prolonged visual task (such as classifying cells on microscope slides, weeding, picking or sorting fruit, flipping burgers, driving long distances, or playing board games such as chess or go.)

source: Wikipedia

Mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for Tetris Effect was another related concept called Game Transfer Phenomenon, where residual thoughts, feelings, or impulses remain after playing a video game.  I have experienced this phenomenon first-hand, with no small measure of amusement, I assure you.  When I see movement in the tree branches in my periphery and my first impulse is to shoot at it with my non-existent sniper rifle, part of me wonders if I shouldn’t be glad I don’t actually have a rifle.

Anyhoo… while I was reading and assimilating all these interesting new tidbits of useless knowledge, I did not happen to see any information to indicate when I could expect to close my eyes and not see little crabs.  And I still can’t decide whether or not I should be annoyed by this.  Hmm…