Saturday, November 13, 2010
Dizzier than thou: MSA updated
Striking me lightly on the back of my head is beyond Tom’s talent for games. He’s more likely to purr and push his furry head up for stroking, so when I’m home alone with my cat and feel that smack on the head I know what it is. My OPCA/MSA is acting up again, swinging an invisible baseball bat and stirring a swirl of dizziness like home plate dust on a windy day.
OPCA — olivopontocerebellar atrophy — has recently cut back, like Herbert Hoover hacking at a welfare budget, in the time it allows me to stand before my head starts to spin in synch with the swaying in my legs.
This has nothing to do with heights, even though my canes have gotten half an inch longer than they used to be. Either that, or I’m half an inch shorter. OPCA thought of an incredible shrinking man, and the equal opportunity shrinking woman, before Hollywood did.
Whoever asked me to write about these phases of OPCA, the progressions of a progressive disease, has probably been forgiven, although here I am, still writing updates.
OPCA is hitting below the eyebrows, at squint level. For more than 80 years I’ve been reading without ever thinking about reading. The whole point of reading is to slide into the writer’s dimension without conscious focusing, so something gets lost when the act of reading swings from automatic to stick shift.
This may be accompanied by forgetting what’s being read while it is being read, sort of in one eye and out the other. OPCA does not afflict all of its victims with identical symptoms and it does not progress at one speed for all. It is about eight years after my diagnosis, progressing from cane to rollator, that the supermarket has now become formidable.I have a new game, which is to proofread whatever I write via keyboard, inserting the letter “a” wherever it is missing. The little finger on my left hand asserts its OPCA independence by only pretending to strike the “a” key while I’m typing.
So, if you have this mysterious OPCA brainwarp, or if you’re a caregiver, this is my newest report to you. For me the best part is that I’m able to write. Now I know that, when necessary, nine fingers will do the work of ten. I know that sitting up is better than falling down, and that praying for each other is better than going it alone.