On Saturday evening I spoke with my father, who just returned to Arizona from the Thanksgiving holiday back in North Dakota. I quickly noticed that he had trouble putting the ending to a thought, and specific words were difficult for him to “find”. I knew he had fallen about four weeks ago on the ice, and hit his head on the concrete. At the time they were worried about possible rib fractures, though they did suture his left eyebrow at the time.
I put two and two together, and figured he had a big likelihood of a subdural hematoma putting pressure on his language and speech motor areas on the left frontal dorso-lateral area. Subdurals are common in elderly individuals who fall and hit their head, and need to be ruled out if there is a recurrent or persistent complaint following TBI. He complained of headaches which were unrelenting, but they had not scanned him even with his returns to their medical plan 2-3 times in the weeks following the fall.
I figured it would be impossible for him to tell the ER what he needed (as CT or MRI to look for the subdural), so I wrote him an e-mail summary of the findings and pertinent history for my mother to print out and take with them. I sent my elderly father and mother off to the ER, and my dad didn’t want to go because he figured he would miss football games. By Sunday noon, he was in the neurosurgeon’s hands, and they removed a LARGE subdural of 150 Ccs. He is now fine, with all his language skills returned. He even caught the late game on the tube.
After the surgical prep my mother called, and I was asked to “call the doctor”, and I rang in on the neurosurgeon’s headset when he had my dad’s head open. It was a pretty routine evacuation of a subdural, but they were very happy to be handed the case on a platter with the e-mail. He said he was surprised at the “diagnosis” done via telephone and gut instinct, but even more by the accuracy of the localization of the subdural to the left dorso-lateral frontal as well as left temporal areas. The subdural was very large, and encompassed the entire area described.
I’ve had enough drama for the holidays. You would think maybe he will stop bugging me to be a doctor now.