Which leads, of course, to what I've been doing recently.
Which is dealing with encephalomalacia.
Not my own, thankfully; the brain softening of other people.
See, your brain isn't supposed to be soft. It's kinda firm and resillient (in vivo, that is), with its own lovely network of venous sinuses and arteries and linings and ventricles. It's a thing of beauty, whether you're watching it live through a dissecting scope in the OR or on video.
Except when it gets soft. Then it's not so beautiful. Worse, though, than the aesthetic considerations is what encephalomalacia does to a person. Basically, it takes a productive, happy, loving member of society and turns them into a nonresponsive, snoring shell of a person who's getting fed through a tube.
And sometimes we simply don't know what causes it. We can take biopsies galore, we can run every single test on blood and CSF and urine and what-have-you that the most specialized specialists can think up, we can scan and X-ray and poke and prod...and we still don't know why you've all of a sudden become a lump in the bed.
It's frustrating. More than that, it enrages me. Bad enough that somebody that I grew to know a little and like a lot is dying; why on earth can't we figure out why?
The last time this happened, the diagnosis came back primary leptomeningeal melanoma. That happened years and years ago, when I was first starting out in neuroscience. That particular diagnosis was obtained on autopsy. This one probably will be, too.
This, my friends, is the bad thing about nursing: seeing somebody you thought was getting better suddenly get worse and having no hope of an explanation in time to fix them. The only bright spot is that, since we're hip-deep in researchers, maybe the *next* person won't be so badly off. If we can catch whatever-it-is in time. If they have the same thing. If we can figure out what this is in the first place.