What happens when your left brain takes a vacation?

Doc with the left and right brain hemispheresUpon recommendation of one of the blogs I usually read; Presentation Zen, I took a look at Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED presentation:  My Stroke of Insight. The presentation itself was simply fascinating, the fact that she had such clarity of thought during what I could only expect to be a terrifying experience in the best of cases, is utterly amazing. Couples with her story telling ability, the whole package turns into a fascinating mix of spirituality, science and metaphysical philosophy.

What really struck home for me was during the portion where she spoke of her experience of being cut off from the analytic engine in the left hemisphere and the feeling of enormity that her body succumbed to. This is a feeling I know all too well. While my right brain excursion was not stroke induced, rather an artificial side effect of a mixture of Morphine and Oxycontin shortly after I was moved from the ICU to the transplant ward after my Liver Transplant.

I was placed in a rather small room at the end of the hall after coming upstairs due to the fact that I am resistant to antibiotics or VRE. It was shortly after this that it all went to hell in a hand basket. I became extremely anxious, agitated and confused. I was in pain, disoriented, dillusional and feeling very much like an observer to what was happening to me. I remember feeling like my hands were the size of basketballs and that the Pulse Ox on my finger was enormous and it felt heavy and hard to hold my hand up with it on there. During this whole time I had no idea what the hell was going on, and as my memory serves me I was scared as hell. I had just undergone a Liver Transplant 4 days prior, and no for some unknown reason I was freaking right the hell out, and I thought I was going off my nut. I had no conception of time during this time, just the very real sense that the room was getting smaller, with my head touching the wall behind me and my feet resting flat on the other wall. I would have to agree with Dr. Taylor in that this was "La la land." The difference was I felt no euphoria; it was not fun.

What I find most interesting is the assertion she makes about the functions of the two hemispheres working independently of one another; the right side living in the now, and the left working in the past, and future working for us as the planner and filer of our experiences. The brain is a fascinating bit of biological mechanics, and if you’re up for a very different perspective on what having a stroke is like; watch this presentation.

This is the first time I have really thought about that day in the 1 year, 2 months and 15 days since my transplant, and if I were to be honest; I’m glad my left hemisphere started working right again.