These are some of the notes from the Disability exam: 12/12/08 MRI of the brain and skull reported craniectomy changes of the posterior fossa; extensive areas of infarction of the cerebellar hemispheres in the PICA distribution as well as the pons and middle cerebellar penduncles. 4/23/09 VA neurology note: noted to have mild nystagmus on lateral gaze and mild 6th cranial nerve palsy with slight left facial droop. 1/6/11 DIAGNOSES: Stroke, affecting the bilateral cerebellum and pons, due to dissected vertebral artery, with the residuals of: fatiguing, mild dysphagia, mild aphasia, left hemiparesis with mild weakness and fatiguing and lack of endurance of left extremities, episodic tremors, episodic dizziness, headache from occipital muscle tension headaches, intermittent tinnitus. Although there is no evidence of damage to cranial nerve VI nor VII per se; the veteran has had damage to the pons, the area where the cranial nerves originate, the dizziness and tinnitus are consistent with inappropriate processing of signal coming from the labyrinth and cochlea along CN VIII to the areas of the brain damaged in the strokes.
On December 8, 2008, my life changed forever. I had a double sided cerebellar stroke with 2 brain stem compressions. It was not until December 10, 40 hours after my stroke, that surgery was finally done to relieve the pressure. Dr. Piper, the neuro-surgeon from Iowa Methodist hospital in Des Moines, told my wife that surgery was nothing more than an attempt to save my life, but that it would not erase the deficiencies as a result of the stroke. Although she admits that she did not really understand what Dr. Piper had just said, my wife, Laura, agreed to the surgery and the care team performed a decrompessive craniotomy, to hopefully relieve the pressure and allow my brain to function somewhat normally. For those who have followed my blog for the last 14+ years, the surgery was successful, I returned to the church and I now live a relatively normal life, although I do have some pretty severe, though not always visible, defieciencies. I really thought that life could not get any worse th