May 24, 2021
I had a severe stroke in August 2018. What has happened to me in the last three months has been far worse. I have learned to deal with the physical ramifications, but I cannot comprehend losing my mind.
For three years, I’ve tried to express my feelings, anxieties, wins, and losses. I’ve shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes things were pretty funny, and other times, bleak. The past three months have been, I can only explain, as dark. And I have not shared what’s going on.
Saturday, February 22, 2021, I woke up feeling great. It felt like a new day and a new future. I had lost my job only days before and had been feeling quite discouraged. Being the creative type, I decided to take up performance art and express that thought. If you’ve ever seen a demonstration of that type of artistic expression, you realize it can be pretty dramatic. It was 6:30 in the morning, and I began to knock things off the walls and flat surfaces in the Living Room and bathroom. Photos fell to the ground, small Wisteria statues were felled. I’m not sure what item made the loudest noise, but Judy came out and had a look of horror in her eyes. To me, it seemed utterly rational, which should’ve been a warning sign of what was to come later in the day. I was trying to explain myself, and Judy was telling me that I was not being rational. I could not hear her because I had already explained it all the way inside my mind, and it made perfect sense to me. A new start, new things.
Things only degraded from there. We had friends over for lunch, and apparently, I began to say and do strange things. I only remember part of that time. The next thing I know, my son is trying to wrestle me into the car to take me to the hospital. They kept me for four days, and my experience there is chronicled in my article I’ve called” The Descent.” Besides the dream, I don’t remember anything about that first night. The next day I woke up feeling normal. After all the tests were run, it was decided that I had had a seizure (a diagnosis which was later called into question.)
I would like to say that was the end of the story, but the cycle repeated itself five additional times over the next three months. Five of those times, I wound up staying in the hospital. Following a panic attack-type episode that lasted longer than six hours, I felt somewhat normal (but I was still off). I say somewhat because many of you have been around me and described me as “not being myself” and are now glad to have the old Perry back.
Everything seemed rational to me. I got into profound political arguments and deep conversations about faith with people I didn’t know. I was passionate, but I also was combative with my wife, children, and others (some of which I made very unusual phone calls too, but I have no remembrance of). I could only think about my lack of freedom. My driver’s license was taken away for three months, so I felt completely isolated. I just wanted to leave and go anywhere.
During the months leading up to the February 22 incident, Judy began keeping a journal of my odd behavior. She noted months of peculiar actions and she was growing more and more alarmed. I, too, was wondering what was happening. I had been having spasms in my right (my unaffected) hand and was hearing laser-like sounds in my ears. I described it sounding like the bionic man versus the bionic woman having a laser fight. The last couple of days before that fateful morning, my eyes began fluttering, and the other symptoms became more prominent.
During the latest episode, they decided to keep me in the hospital for four days to work together. Another EEG was ordered, and it came back normal. A flurry of diagnoses came from the team of doctors, each working individually, who were caring for me. Everyone had their own opinion. I heard the words schizophrenia, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and the list went on. Still, my symptoms did not seem to match with any of those ideas. I protested having to stay, especially since I didn’t feel they were treating me for anything. Hopefully, their conclusion would provide a step back into normalcy if there ever was such a thing for me.
The working theory is that the plethora of medication that I have been on was working against me. In other words, a harmful drug interaction. That coupled with the fact that I had been unable to sleep well for weeks, at one point staying awake for nearly 55 hours, and was dehydrated. I had started a couple of new prescriptions recently, so that is where they started. I have been weaned off three different drugs at this point. I have not exhibited any abnormal behavior (I know that is a relative term, especially when it comes to me.)
We are meeting with a neurologist on Wednesday, and hopefully, he will have more answers. He has studied the images of my brain and may be able to clarify what is actually going on. Since the reduction of pharmaceuticals, I have had no bionic fights and my spasms have stopped. I take that as a good sign.
Those of you who I have offended, called in the middle of the night, argued with, or said something inappropriate to you or about someone else to you, I apologize. It sounds like a copout to say it wasn’t me because it was, but in many ways, it really wasn’t! It was me magnified and without filters. I have been told I had conversations with people that I have absolutely no recollection of. I cannot bring myself to look at my phone records to try to piece it all together.
Thank you for the understanding and grace you have shown me over these past few months.