Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Does Personality Lie?

As I wait the interminable amount of time to see the neurologist (December 30th), I have far too much time to look at myself and see how things have changed over the last few years. Being as it is, that my frontal lobes are under attack by this insidious invader, I have been looking into what that might mean for me.

The frontal lobes are the seat of personality, learning, speech, some motor skills, and judgment (or lack thereof). At times, during this most recent battle, my symptoms have been physical (numb, tingling calves and feet). At times, the symptoms have been emotional. Sometimes my anger turns on and doesn't turn off quickly. Sometimes I cry at the drop of a hat. My mind doesn't want to hang onto things. Yes, you could say that some of this is because of the terrible loss this year of my daughter, but not everything can be attributed to that. Lately, I seem to be dealing better with the loss (at least most of the time), but I don't always deal so well with disappointment, upset, or additional stress.

In looking at the last 6 months, only the months of June and August did not involve us having company to our home. And in June, we moved one household and took a trip to move the other, so it doesn't really count as a relaxing month, either. Stay with me...

I've also been a little worried about my son, as he is battling his own depression over the loss of his sister, a job he hates, and his return to school. He's angry at himself for not working harder to stick to one academic program, as now it is taking him longer to get through with school and into a career he loves. He has exhibited some signs of depression, but he is going to counseling and trying to deal with it. I worry that I dumped an awful lot in his lap, as I left the state and his father started having to travel for work. Yes, he's 22, but he is also now having to live alone, take care of the house (and himself) and 5 animals. It isn't what he bargained for, exactly. I'm hoping to take on one of the cats and teach her to be an outdoor cat in the spring.

But wait, there's more...

There's a lot about my old life that isn't part of my new life. That's neither good nor bad. It just is. I've had a lot of adjustments to make and a lot of culture shock to deal with. That's also neither good nor bad. I get more exercise and fresh air now, but I kind of miss the city sometimes.

So the question that rolls around in my head at night is this: is the MS eating away at my frontal lobes and changing my personality? Has it had anything at all to do with my feelings of anger and depression? Or is all that attributable to circumstance and events? Who knows. All I do know is that I want to see this doctor and get some answers, if he has them. I want to know what to expect.

If you want to read more on what the frontal lobe does, see the snippet below. I hope that the last item isn't affected in me - "the ability to express language" - because really, who would I be without my words?

Peace - D

CEREBRAL CORTEX Frontal Lobe: Most anterior, right under the forehead.


  • How we know what we are doing within our environment (Consciousness). How we initiate activity in response to our environment. Judgments we make about what occurs in our daily activities. Controls our emotional response. Controls our expressive language. Assigns meaning to the words we choose. Involves word associations.
  • Memory for habits and motor activities.

Observed Problems:

  • Loss of simple movement of various body parts (Paralysis). Inability to plan a sequence of complex movements needed to complete multi-stepped tasks, such as making coffee (Sequencing). Loss of spontaneity in interacting with others. Loss of flexibility in thinking. Persistence of a single thought (Perseveration). Inability to focus on task (Attending). Mood changes (Emotionally Labile). Changes in social behavior. Changes in personality. Difficulty with problem solving.
  • Inablility to express language (Broca's Aphasia). [neuroskills]


HEATHER said...

I was in a car accident in 1997 and sustained a closed head injury which resulted in frontal lobe damage. Without a good medication to control my anger I have no doubt I would be in jail. I have learned to manage.
That said I keep praying that when you go to the doctor they will determine that the lesion in your brain is the result of an old concussion or bang to the head.
My brother in law was also diagnosed with MS by his internist(he was also having leg and arm numbness). When he went to the neurologist after an extensive consultation and examination the neuro determined that the lesion on his brain was actually scar tissue from several old concussions. So I am praying that is what they find for you. His numbness was determined to be the result of a pinched nerve. Hang in there honey! You are in my nightly prayers.

Leslie: said...

You're in my thoughts and prayers, too. As Heather says, maybe it's an old head injury instead of the dreaded MS. I should mention that to my son-in-law because he's been in several accidents where he's suffered concussions.

RiverPoet said...

Hi ladies -

Thanks for the comments, but I have more than one lesion (had 5 in 2007, more now and larger) and only ever remember hitting my head once (when I slipped on the ice in 2003 and had a bad fall). Trust me. When the neurologist in 2007 said, "No, I don't think it's really MS" (despite the radiologist's opinion in writing), I leaped onto that and put my head firmly in the sand. Would love to do that again, but with the disease-modifying meds they have now, I might get worse if I don't do something.

Anyway, off to bed now. Peace - D

Maggie May said...

Why does everything have to be so complicated? I am finding that too. Waiting for a diagnosis. You sound as though you are also like me by nature and delve into things.

I hope you get somewhere with the neurologist soon and hope they have made a mistake & that it isn't MS.

SOUL: said...

i'm only guessing that you got this excerpt from "Dr. Google" ?
he is also my best friend-- or worst enemy, as well.

reading this makes me sad, and afraid for you-- but wait-- there's hope.
i say-- don't 'self diagnose', or go off the deep end with the worst case scenario just yet. ok?

if i trusted-- oh and i have-- a hundred times -- good ole Dr. Google, i would have been dead many years ago.
us googlers always find something awful when we punch in our symptoms to google. especially us folks with more symptoms than items on a holiday menu.

i can't give you advice really, other than.. don't trust google -- if google was right all the time-- half the world would be dead. same goes for Dr House, on TV. i watched him last night-- some guy came in anemic and dizzy (duh) , a few other symptoms -- and they tossed out fifteen possibly very serious diseases etc.

recently, I was found to be anemic, having dizzy spells-- which was due to the anemia-- hello... and a few other symptoms--- they stuck a camera up my rear-- and down my throat!
(not the same camera :))

but see what i mean?

wait til you see the real doc-- i hope he can ease your mind.
the new symptoms you are having, could be as simple as a side effect to a medication.
topamax , for one, is known to cause tingling and numbness. i am sure there are others.

i am thinking of you often during these times.
the holidays will probably be rougher than the last many for you---
big hugs and prayers d

Akelamalu said...

I hope when it comes that the news is good for you m'dear. I'll send Reiki. xxxx

San said...

Doris, I believe with this kind of a rough (dramatic understatement) year, it would actually be rather odd if you weren't experiencing different mental states, especially anger and depression! Even the good things that have happened for you have brought huge changes. Who wouldn't feel overwhelmed?

You are in my thoughts and prayers, hon.

Syd said...

I agree with San. I think some of the issues have to do with grief and perhaps some depression from all that has happened. Be gentle on yourself. Stay in the day. Projecting gets me in trouble every time.

RiverPoet said...

Maggie - It was a "mistake" last time, but I think the doc was just reluctant to give up his first diagnosis - hemiplegic migraine.

Soul - I got this snippet from one of the brain function sites I used as a source for a psych paper, so it's more scholarly, while not being fully academic in nature. I do tend to trust Dr. Google a little too much, but I also know my body. I'm not looking to end up like Richard Pryor, but my partner's brother is in a nursing home at age 54 with secondary progressive MS. I've been comparing notes with him quite a bit, while being his friend. We saw him almost become septic as a result of a UTI - very serious for an MS patient with a catheter and in a wheelchair. We sat one full night with him in the hospital while he was visiting with us. He didn't get to spend much time with us due to illness. His is a worst case scenario, and I know it. I'm hoping for a much better outlook and want to get treatment as soon as possible to avoid disability, if I can.

Akela - Thanks!

San & Syd - Amen to that, my friends.

Peace - D