Seven months and four days ago, I had a minor stroke. The doctors say that the stroke didn’t do much damage to my brain, but the arachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) that occurred when I lost consciousness and fell, did. I don’t remember anything about the first two days after the injury, and very little about the next week. That’s when they sent me home. My recovery was slow at first, but after about a month, I could notice a little improvement almost every day.
It was less than two months after the injury that I interviewed for a job as a project manager for a high-end residential contractor, and… got the job! Over the next month or so, I continued to notice improvements, but the ‘curve’ was beginning to flatten out. I was already reaching my plateau.
It was at this time that I first became aware of a ‘false smell.’ The doctors say this is due to the damage to the olfactory part of my brain. Why it took several months for my brain to decide to give me the sensation of smelling soapy turpentine, no one can say. Mostly, it’s tolerable. I’ve now become so accustomed to it, that I barely notice it at all. But once in a while, either when I’m around soap, or sometimes for no apparent reason… the smell becomes horridly strong, to the point of causing me to feel nauseous. Presently, I am told it is likely that there is nothing that can be done to decrease this sensation. But that’s not the real concern for me at this time.
About a month after the false small started (about one month ago from now) I noticed that I was making mistakes based on incorrect memories. I have one recollection that is still as clear as day to me, but… it never happened. I remember making a written note during a meeting; transferring that note to a digital ‘document on my laptop,’ and then emailing that document to the appropriate parties. I could find no evidence of any of this.
Another mistake was based on something that I did do, but to this day, have no recollection of. The architect sent out an updated detail, and I had no recollection of ever seeing it. But when I checked through my back up file (looking for the written note I didn’t make), I found the detail. Somehow, I had opened the architect’s email, printed the detail without ever downloading it for my digital file, and instead of putting it in my binder to take to the job, I filed it directly into the back up file. I don’t remember doing any of this, but no one else had access to my laptop or the back up file, so it’s obvious that I did.
These are two examples of a series of mistakes that happened over the next month, each one making me feel more uncertain about my sanity. They weren’t ‘normal’ mistakes… the kind that ‘everyone makes.’ These recent mistakes have been unique to my life experience. Sure, I’m human, and I have always made a mistake here or there, but these mistakes are profound in nature… big mistakes… and mistakes that I would normally never make.
I’m now in the process of working with the neurological experts, in an attempt to define and quantify the damage to the cognitive center of my brain. Yes, it wasn’t only the olfactory center that was damaged… part of my cognitive center is dead too.
I’m afraid like I’ve never been afraid before. I can walk and talk and outwardly appear to be 100% normal. But I’m not. These bizarre and dramatic mistakes, when added to the multitude of additional ‘little’ mistakes I’ve been making… make it difficult for me to believe I’m not going to make one… big… final… monumental mistake. Gosh darn it, my life has changed and I don’t like it.