Category Linkin Park
On the Other Hand
This story is fictional, but the disorder that it deals with is entirely real. Split-brain syndrome is a very confusing concept, but I'm going to try and stay as true to the facts as possible, so maybe you'll learn something. But, that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun! ;) Please enjoy!
Have you ever felt at conflict with yourself? Like, one part of you wants one thing, but the other part wants the opposite. So, what do you do? Which part wins? Well, the part that is stronger, which can be unfortunate. Especially for me.
At first, everyone thought I was okay. I was alert, responsive, cognitive, completely conscious. There was no reason to believe that I wouldn’t recover completely. But, none of us realized how extensive my brain damage really was.
When I saw the semi-truck with the sleeping driver coming straight at my Honda Civic, I didn’t even expect to be alive after it hit. I’m very lucky. Somehow, I ducked in my seat and the steering wheel was pushed hard on the back of my head. I still can’t comprehend how my head wasn’t crushed.
The first thing I remember seeing when I woke up in the hospital was my wife’s face hovering over me. My heart skipped a beat - not literally, since the EKG monitor didn’t change at all - and I reached out to Anna, unable to control my elation. I couldn’t feel her, though. I felt stubble where her smooth skin should have been. I said, “Oh, Anna!” but I touched Chester.
I panned my head to the left and I saw Chester standing on the other side of the bed. They both gave me a questioning look and I withdrew my hand. I furrowed my brow and tried to sit up, afraid to speak. An unfamiliar man in white - with matching hair - stepped forward and stood at the side of the bed next to Anna.
“Mike? How are you feeling, son?” he asked warmly.
I pondered this and said, “All right. A little confused.”
He nodded and dug his hand into the pocket of his lab coat, pulling out a pen and jotting something down on a clipboard. “That’s understandable. You were in a near-fatal car accident and you suffered some major brain damage,” the doctor said plainly.
“Now, Chester, Anna, if you would, lean back over the bed the way you were before,” the doctor said, waving his hand back and forth. “I want to check something out.”
Anna nodded, slightly confused, and leaned over the bed, as did Chester.
“Okay, Mike, look straight up.”
The doctor put down the clipboard and crossed his arms over his chest. He idly rubbed at his chin with his right hand and said, “Okay, now tell me the name of who you see.”
I frowned and said, “Anna.”
He nodded. Do you see anyone else?
“No,” I said hesitantly.
The doctor put the clipboard on my lap and put his pen in my left hand. “Okay, now, Mike, simply write down on this paper the name of the person you see.”
I wrote it down to the best of my ability with my left hand. When I finished I put the pen on the tablet and the doctor took it and held it up so that Chester and Anna and I could see it. It was barely legible, but it said ‘Chaz.’ I was baffled.
In all actuality, I saw both of them, but the hemispheres of my brain couldn’t communicate with each other, so. . . I was fucked up, basically.
I’ll give you a short lesson in clinical psychology. What I have is called split-brain syndrome. Usually, it comes for a brief time after a surgery in which a tissue called the corpus callosum is severed. Surgeons will do that on purpose to cure some types of epilepsy. The corpus callosum is the bridge between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Here are the basics: The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, while the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. The left side of the brain also controls the ability to speak. The right side controls motor skills, especially the left hand. Whatever the patient sees with their right eye, they can identify with speech. What they see with their left eye, they can identify with touch or movement.
I learned all of this that afternoon as the doctor tried to explain it to us in layman’s terms. During the following months, though, I was forced to learn a lot more about split-brain syndrome. I was also forced to learn something about myself.
That was just a little teaser. The fun and Mike angst will come later. What do you think so far?