That brain that you gave me… was it Hans Delbruck’s?

I am on a two week medical leave from work. I had my head examined yesterday and the neurologist said, “You need some time off. Rest. Eat better. Do the things that you like and relax.” So, I started a new blog. And I’m starving as I write this, but too lazy to do anything about it.

As many of you who know me know, I suffer from migraines. “Suffer” is not quite the full picture. I get “ransacked” by migraines. Sometimes “raped, pillaged and plundered” by migraines. Occasionally “chewed up like bovine flesh through a grinder” by migraines. But it’s not so bad: I have drugs. Drugs that make you silly and stupid(er). Drugs that sometimes help you fall down.

Actually, it is so bad. Lately, migraines have descended upon me in swift succession, like criticisms from my ex-wife’s mouth, thick and fast and unrelenting and all I can do is hold my head and moan and think about murdering myself.

Instead, I took the constructive route and went to see the doctor. I also needed a new prescription for drugs. But this time the doctor was in the mood to be even more constructive. Instead of “throwing more pills at me,” his words, he ordered me to have an MRI. I believe it was the “ice pick in the top of the head” sensations I’ve been enjoying lately that made the initials “M-R-I” appear across his forehead. “Let’s rule out any brain abnormalities first, Mr. Snyder. Then we can discuss drugs.” I subconsciously giggled when he said, “brain abnormalities.” He’d better brace himself before he takes a peek into this little brain!

Time out. I really need to eat something. While I warm up some chicken soup – homemade by yours truly, think about this: A migraine is more than a headache. It’s a full-body experience. No, it’s even more than that. It’s a full-being experience. Of course, your head hurts. (“Hurts” being an understatement, you understand.) But in addition to that, your whole body feels like it’s been trampled by ogres in high heels. The fatigue is overwhelming. Or perhaps that should be “underwhelming” because you have no energy and it’s like being “under” a colossal weight. You become ultra-sensitive to light and sound. YOU FEEL LIKE PUKING. Sometimes you do puke. Even these descriptions seem inadequate to describe what a migraine is really like. So, since a picture is worth a thousand words (and a doodle is simply priceless), to get a better idea of what I’m trying to say here, why don’t you go on over to and amuse yourself with some of my migraine drawings while I finish slurping up this soup. Then we can finish the story.

So, yesterday I went for the MRI at the neurologist’s office. Thank God it was an “open” MRI because this guy is one claustrophobic cat! Even so, the “open” was not so open in my opinion and I still had rushes of irrational panic during the procedure. I was on my back. They put a cage over my head, which was a smart move on the technician’s part because the head cage was the primary thing that prevented my escape when the panic became blinding at one point. If it had been an arm cage or a leg cage, I would have gnawed off the limb and busted out of there!

The thing that calmed me the most was the MRI machine itself. “The very contraption that was causing your ridiculous fear?” you ask. Yes, the machine was loud and, interestingly enough, it had rhythm. I couldn’t help but drum along to it. If it were not for the darn head cage, I might have done some headbanging too. The trick was to keep my eyes closed and groove with the machine, become one with the machine, surrender my brain to its invasive inspection and know that the head cage is as vast as the universe.

But thank God when that shit was over!

I had an appointment with the doctor after the MRI. In the examination room, he tried to pull up my test results on his computer. He couldn’t find mine in the data for hundreds of Snyders. I began to wonder if we were all suspect to brain abnormalities and subjected to inspections as a routine. The doctor gave up and said, “Come with me back to the MRI room. We’ll look at the results together on their computer.” When got to the room where I had finished my MRI not more than five minutes before, there were two mechanics working on it! They had the hood up and were in up to their elbows. I said, “Hey Doc… I think I broke the machine. Maybe it was too dense in there and I burned the thing out.” He gave me what seemed to me a nervous laugh almost as if he was thinking the same thing I just enunciated.

There in black and white on a computer monitor was my brain. The doctor began hitting keys on the keyboard and zipping through various levels of my brain strata like a teenager on an X-Box. He pointed out a small white patch buried somewhere in the right said of my brain. “You see that?” he pointed, “Those white marks are common in people with migraines.” “Well, what exactly is it, Doc?” He rattled off a string of medical jargon, then summarized, “Basically, a mirgraine is considered a mini-stroke and they sometimes leave marks in your brain like that.” Shit! What? Stroke??

He ignored the fact that my jaw was dropping and flipped to a different image on the screen. “This is a view of the arteries and veins going through your brain… Interesting…” “What is it, Doc?” “You have an abnormality right there…” (see the white arrow in the image below)

Brain veins and arteries - not the author's

“… right about there,  a connection is missing in your brain”

Of course, when he said, “Abnormality,” I immediately thought of this:

“Doctor, is that what makes me so odd?  Is that why even my own children tell me I am ‘so weird’?”  (My daughter recently told me, “If you look up the definition of ‘normal’ in the dictionary, it says, ‘Not Sam Snyder.'”)

“No, it’s okay.”  But I know he was thinking I was weird.

Well, what the neurologist wants to do to help my situation is to have me do NOTHING.  That’s right.  Just chill out.  Not worry.  Take it easy.  It’s been one week since my last migraine.  I’ve had five in the last three weeks or so.  They suck so bad that I can’t help being anxious about the chances of getting one at any second.  I suppose that anxiety is self-defeating. The worry of getting a migraine causes stress.  Stress causes migraines.  Therefore, migraines cause migraines.

I left the neurologist’s office and saw that I had a text message from a friend.  I responded, “I was in an MRI machine when u sent that txt.”

“MRI of your head?  You okay?”

“Yeah my head.  I hope it didn’t scare the little wizard who lives in there.”

“LMAO!  You are so strange!”

And there my friends is the tag line for my new little blog.  I am Sam Snyder.  My brain has been medically certified as “Abnormal.”  Welcome to my domain.


  • Brian

    May 19, 2010

    HAHAHA! This is great. I’m glad you’re using your time off to let us all have a laugh at your misfortune.

  • Heather

    May 19, 2010

    Aww, Sam! I’m your friend. 🙂 Sorry I called you strange.

  • Mamadukes

    May 27, 2010

    well, son…..looks like we are both Abnormal…..hence my name…abbnormal or abby normal…..i have a “cloud” in my brain too and i get migraines!

    we’re not weird……we’re SPECIAL!!

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