Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beginning Part Three?

Moving from the direct aftermath of the surgery to the longer-term recovery process is real progress and I’m deeply ambivalent about it. This week marks the third of the talks I’d been booked to give that have been canceled or postponed due to this medical adventure. In my old life, I would have been flying out this afternoon for that event. It seems completely reasonable to believe that, after time for recovery and rehabilitation, I’ll be able to resume that part of my life. But for the moment, I’m both watching the old life go by and knowing that I’ve left people I like and respect in the lurch either trying to fill a conference speaking slot on pretty short notice or rescheduling a program they’d been planning for some time in advance.

At the same time, I’m spending more time alone/stepped out of the world and inactive than I can ever recall. Probably, that’s what led to my over-doing it Monday, because it just felt so good participating in regular life activities like going to the gym and teaching a class. However, let’s get real and keep this in perspective: I’m incredibly lucky. I had a brain tumor, it’s completely gone, it was benign, I’m still my old self with only a limited range of impairments (most of which we can expect to go away over time) and I even still have a head full of hair. The recovery is going unbelievably well. We’ve had an outpouring of love and support and reconnected with people we love. This is even happening in nice weather, so I’m able to enjoy being outdoors in the sunshine. (It reminds me of having summer babies when any time either girl got restive we could just go outside. The simple act of walking through the front door almost magically cured all crying. Plus, having summer babies meant being able to go to the swimming pool during the day, which felt decadent and deeply pleasurable. ) Brain surgery is no small deal and the ease with which I’ve gotten this far is cause for serious celebration and thanks. I feel all of that.

Even more, I’m determined to use this experience to temper (if I can!) my rhythms and arrive at a better balance of on/off, driven/relaxed than where I’d been before all of this. I can do that. I think. I hope. The first challenge is better awareness and better pacing. Here’s life giving me an opportunity to overcome (ok, that may be a little strong; how about tone down) my impatience. Let’s go. Monday’s costs lasted longer than I would have hoped, and it was a pretty good lesson. We’ll see if I’m as good a learner as I think I am, or should be. Please note that I did not try to attend my Tuesday class. [Huge thanks here to A, who’s taken it over and is providing the students with a great experience.]

To reinforce all of this, I had a visit with friend K yesterday, who came by with lunch from Siam Terrace. Yum. After she left, I sat in the sun (and ate the piece of lovely dark chocolate she’d brought) and browsed the knitting book she also brought. For you knitters out there, it’s the second Mason-Dixon knitting book, and does it ever have some fun stuff. It will be a while before I can do anything complex, but the child’s fern sweater is calling to me. One of the Mason-Dixons is a former lawyer and there’s a lovely essay about how knitting is a great use of a law degree. I like their attitude. Kearney frequents a yarn site called Ravelry, which turns out to have a Meningioma Mommas sub-group among its members. Some of those knitters report not being able to knit lace or follow charts after their surgery. That doesn’t worry me, since I’ve never knit lace to begin with. We’ll see about charts, if I pursue the fern sweater farther into my recovery.

On other fronts, as the steroids taper down, I’m waiting to see if the cravings I’ve had for ice water and salt also recede. I’ve always been a big drinker of water but never with ice until all this started. Since the first night in the hospital, there’s barely been enough ice water for me, and since I’ve been home, hardly enough salt. Michael and I went low-salt decades ago when we helped Dorothy, my step-mother, re-tool her cooking and diet in the aftermath of her heart problems. We’ve been low-salt eaters ever since, which makes it all the more odd that I’ve probably eaten more salt on my food in the last two weeks than in the last two years combined. We start occupational therapy today and physical therapy tomorrow. We’re waiting for my scalp to become less “boggy” (fluid to dissipate) as it re-attaches to the bone. My, we’ve learned a lot!

Tomorrow, thoughts from our hospital journey. Meanwhile, here’s the simplest of the suggestions we sent the hospital/clinic folks: staff badges should be double-sided, with the same information and picture on front and back. A remarkable proportion of the time, the ID badges staff members wear are flipped over, so all that shows is the blank back side. If they just printed the same info on both sides, that wouldn’t ever happen.

Take a moment today to turn your face to the sun. I send you my caring and my thanks.

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