The image is what you think it is: a slice of a CAT of my head. Now, the' story' can be more that one: why I chose it, why did I do a CAT, why that specific slice.
First, let's say that it has shown I have nothing unusual or nasty – or so I was told. I did it because for 21 years I have suffered – and still, at a slowly receding pace, I still suffer – from something a number of doctors have improperly called tinnitus (in Italian: acufene).
Well, it is not. It is a hiss, of variable pitch, intensity and position, which has nothing to do with my inner or outer ear and with the cortical audio receptors. It began in 1997, when I moved from the small school I was teaching in to the Conservatorio in Milano. I had never had anything like that for 45 years, it was the end of the first semester and when I got off the train, home in Torino one night, the bothering, high-pitched noise I had thought was coming from the car I had travelled in (trains are full of noises), was coming with me. It was in my head.
The first diagnoses, had I known what I know now, would have been a good chance for a good laugh: my family doctor 'saw' an inflammation of my right ear and suggested I wouldn't fly (I am not Superman, he meant not taking planes); an otolaryngologist had me do a hearing test and then suggested I looked into my mind and soul. A little better. A second one suggested the byte and diagnosed an abnormal tension of my mandibular nerve. Bought the byte. It didn't do nothing to the hiss, but I stopped grinding my teeth. Sometimes a good, hot pizza made the hiss disappear. Had I known it before, you know, a pizza is €5, the byte was 800.
It was not regular, nor allocated in the ears; it came and went, and tended to have rest on Sunday: a Catholic hiss. It seemed not to have any relationship with my relationship with what they now call an ecosystem: the world. But then I thought of it as something organic, one way or another. And have done so until recently. Lately, while it tends to slowly disappear, it always begins in the upper center of my skull then moves and stops, diminished in intensity, exactly a few mm. outside my right temporal lobe. Sometimes it disappears with a short nap, frequently a short nap activates it. At times, I wake up in the morning and my head is silent as a tomb, and so it remains until I go to sleep. The next day is the next world, and I don't know what it will be.
I lived with it more or less resignedly until Feb 6th, 2017. That day, I finally broke down. I suddenly found myself – it was a simple, pleasant Sunday evening at my in-laws and their two lovely, dearest kids – down, terribly moody, the hiss was cutting my brain in two, I couldn't eat, I could stand even the people I love most, I was angry and, at the same time, silent, grim and irritable. After a week in which I woke up in the middle of the night and stayed up in fear that the hiss wouldn't let me sleep again, I decided (I have three doctors in my acquired family) to have a talk to a specialist. Luck and a friend made me end up in a very special man's – a 76 years old neuropsychiatrist, in Como – studio, where it took him a few minutes to diagnose me with depression. He asked me about my family, wanted to know if I had ever considered therapy (yes I had and tried, four times in my life), then gave me prescriptions for two mild medicaments and said think about it. Five days later, I called and said I was ready to try. He said come tomorrow at 2 p.m.
I have been in therapy for 18 months now, then the sessions have started to diminish from weekly to fortnight, then to when I want to see him. In the meantime, he finally told me 'as a fact' that my hiss is of totally cognitive nature. It's all in my head (pun unintended). I wanted to corroborate his diagnosis with a neurologic visit and a CAT of the head. The neurologist visited me then wrote: Somatization in anxious-depressive syndrome. The CAT showed nothing of relevance. I am not depressed anymore, anxious I am still a bit, often. There are also inborn traits, and in 65 years one develops a personality which is hard to modify (or optimize) without a lot of lubricant.
My last move was then, after 21 years, to leave Milano and its Conservatory: toxic places, totally unfit to me. It appears that I can't read reality well, and can't read people properly as well. Not always, at least. Cons in Milano is the worst possible place for one who reads people badly, probably second only to working in politics. I'll shift to a smaller town, with a smaller, nice, orderly and quiet Conservatory. Some say it will be boring, that I'll regret Milano; but my hiss has already begun to diminish and disappear more frequently, and in two years, when I'll be a retired old fart, if still alive (I, not him) my therapist is sure that the hiss will be gone.
Have I had proof of psychosomatic-ness since I was made aware of the hiss's cognitive nature? Yes, a lot. I have learned much on myself and much on men in general.
Last: I chose that particular shot of the 200 the CAT took, together with my brother-in-law while he was illustrating the pics to me: because of the two eye globes. It is well proportioned, and I think that in this moment it represents me in the most plain, crude and direct way.
Hope I haven't bored you.