A Vegetative State

The brain fog is becoming extreme. I’m spending about 13 of my 16 waking hours each day having brain fog. As a result, I nearly continuously stare off into space motionlessly, unaware of my surroundings, with stupid movies playing in my head. I don’t even remember the movies a second after they’ve ended. And I haven’t been outside the apartment at all since returning from out of town in the early evening of August 29th, so almost three full days.

My vegetative condition has little practical impact. I have no responsibilities until my next doctor’s appointment in about two weeks, except maybe to go buy more coffee grounds for the household coffeemaker, which takes five minutes depending on the lineup at the cashier. The brain fog even makes the time pass without my noticing, so that the day goes by quickly. I am not distressed during the periods of brain fog, and the only drawback is that my father occasionally expresses concern about my lack of focus on the external world. That’s really just him being 74 years old and having spent the first 25 years of his life in East Europe and being too old to adjust to anything.

But there was a new development just now. My brother baked a large, circular cheese pie and invited us to sit down and eat. I thought it was dinnertime, so after eating I took all of my evening medication, including the perphenazine. That will mean falling asleep at the start of evening and waking up in the middle of the night, fresh and rested. Which in itself doesn’t matter, except that it’s the first time I’ve lost basic function such as being able to tell which of the three daily meals it was. Shall I continue to deteriorate until I completely lose the ability to feed myself, notice that I need to urinate or defecate, or even become aware that my father or brother are speaking to me? Am I headed for a totally vegetative state where I am never aware of the external world at all?

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know.

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12 thoughts on “A Vegetative State

  1. Almost sounds like early J.G. Ballard whose short stories would investigate what was termed in that era (i.e., 1960’s) “fugue states” or this sense of timelessness that is a complete blank or white noise state neither in or out of time, but between without movement, a stasis that is barely aware of its blankness.

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    1. It isn’t fiction. šŸ™‚ What I call “brain fog” is the last residual symptom I have left over from my 1991 diagnosis of schizophrenia, but it’s the worst one and the one that prevents me from working–and sometimes from functioning. Thanks for the reference to Ballard.

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      1. Yea, I understand. I saw some of this coming back from Viet Nam when I was younger… well, a lot younger šŸ™‚

        I remember guys with battle fatigue and shell shock etc. who were exactly as you describe… the brain sometimes shuts down as a defensive measure against the strain of things; sad to say, but its an almost last resort against the pain of existence.

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        1. The second half of September 1st was much better, as my mind remained fairly clear and I was mostly able to concentrate. Ironically, that improvement began to occur less than half an hour after I had written and uploaded the post you’ve been replying to. Let’s hope it continues that way. But the brain fog is completely unpredictable and has proven resistant to treatment and completely capricious, so that I haven’t yet found anything I can consitently do in order to prevent it from happening. The impractical solutions are to have engaging and interesting conversations with other people for 16 uninterrupted hours each day or to go out of town every day for the rest of my life and engage in entertaining activities in a rotation of unfamiliar environments. Feasible solutions? If you’ve got any ideas, I’m all ears.

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          1. I wish I did. But one thing I do know is that many of the things they want to stipulate as a diagnosis under psychiatric terms are physical and brain related, or biochemical problems. And, what you’re describing sounds like the brain is during these episodes not producing certain neuron based chemicals needed for normal brain activity and have nothing to do with such foolishness as going out of town or changing one’s habits…. all that sounds like quackery and stupidity on the part of doctors. My opinion for what it is worth… of course, I’m not much of a believer in medicine anyway. The pharmaceutical and insurance companies have control over way too much of the system, and disallow doctors access to real cures that would put most of these financial guzzlers out of business.

            Have you tried to fine other types of medical help? Alternative medicines? Acupuncture? etc.

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            1. .It’s actually doctors who believe that people are just lumps of meat, and would therefore isolate neurochemistry as an isolated explanation for everything. But even lumps of meat are affected by whether they’re stored in the freezer or in a potter’s kiln, so I figure environment does influence things like hormone secretion and neurotransmitter production. What I said in my last reply is based on self-observation learned through 23 years as a high-functioning mental patient, and if people dismiss that out of hand because of the label of my diagnosis, that’s their business.

              I haven’t tried alternative medicine because decades of trial and error were enough for me. At some point, if you keep trying,you’re just beating your head against the wall.

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              1. True. I know after studying depression, which is also a biochemical issue, whether as you say a combination of environment/genetics plays a role, and how much – it is physical, not one or the other. I stressed the physical because as you said it sounded like they were prescribing strange notions as palliatives rather than serious remedies.

                Reading about David Foster Wallace, William Styron and others with depression I’ve come to see your point about medicines… that doctors are really and truly witchdoctors with no real clue as to what is going on… and experiment on patients with a science that is little better than guessing in the dark. Some things work, then stop working… then people die or commit suicide. Even with support systems of family and friends it seems very hard.

                So I can only sympathize with your plight, but obviously not having experienced it first hand I’m of little use as to aid you in this except to say: I do give a shit.

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  2. Something I have noticed with myself – when I get hit with an episode similar to what you describe, it is usually because I am in a “holding pattern” and something is about to radically change in my life. This could be a good thing, or a not-so-good thing. So far, holding patterns have not preceded bad things. But, when I come out of it, I have learned to be on the lookout for opportunities.

    Maybe you have something similar coming for you? A new opportunity for personal growth, or happiness.

    Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good wishes. I actually had a positive psychological change from my trip out of town. Ever since I went away, I’ve felt different and functioned differently, even now that I have been back in my usual situation for a few days.

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  3. But for the computer one might say I was in a vegetative state. Neatly tucked away, getting all my needs handled right where I’m at. I wouldn’t know what day it was but for the calendar and clock on my computer. I simply sleep when I am tired, be awake when I’m not ! Thanks to someone I have found Last.fm and am enjoying the music like never before [recently anyway] . If you are asking, I don’ think you’ll vegetate away. But who am I to say. lol

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    1. There are many of us, Donnalee. The real question is whether we are the wave of the future or simply the inevitable minority, of the excessively large number of seven billion total people on earth, which has fallen through the cracks.

      Ever since I posted that blog post, my brain fog has almost entirely ceased. It has been replaced with a mildly upset stomach and a powerful appetite I am managing to ignore.

      Hopefully both our lives remain relaxed and untroubled by distress. Be good, and thanks for reading.

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