Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Rules Weren’t Working For Me

Yesterday, we seem to have hit the proper balance of activity and rest for a successful tortoise. Realizing just how low this level of activity may be for a while was disheartening. It brought with it an hour or two of wallowing, starting with my dislike for the large, bumpy leftover stuff on my head. My head! The whole idea of a brain tumor and someone having sawed open my skull is still hard to reconcile. Piling on the impositions this situation is putting on so many other people, the thumb-hand-arm-balance-strength-leg stuff, the inability to find words and short-term memory holes… I was cranky. I suggested to Michael that what he really needs to do is find a good Mean School to become less nice, as his current level of nice cannot possibly be good for him. He laughed so hard it jollied me (mostly) out of my funk and we moved along from the moment. However, having been there was a window into just how long this slog is going to be. Of course, it also illuminates how lucky we are, as these hills are not all that high in the bigger picture. So, the focus is back to working on being an effective tortoise.

The sum of my activity yesterday: finishing grading another week’s papers and walking around in the sun at the Salt Fort Art Festival for half an hour. It was pleasant and we ran into one of the really terrific ICU nurses and her family there. She was as surprised and happy as everyone at my rapid and smooth recovery (cranky later notwithstanding). This level of activity required two long naps, and reflects the sum total of my day’s exertion other than paging through the day’s newspapers. I’m back to working on seeing how far I’ve come in such a short time.

I have the impression these posts are too long, especially as we move out from the dramatic events, so I’ll finish today with the information I left off (and for which I was chastised) about the full implementation of “another later.” The full use not only involves the concept and wording, but a hand gesture, full palm out, like a “stop” sign. It’s of course possible to employ this most useful concept in graduated doses, from just thinking it (and putting off the vexing task) to articulating it to the most emphatic usage complete with the hand gesture. (hand out in front of you) “I’ll do that another later.”

I was also reminded of the full-scale escalation, brought to us by Anna Shea, in the event that “another later” turns out to be too mild for the circumstances. This entered our lives when she was about three or four years old. She wasn’t very big, but she was fully the person she has become. She and I were going around about something in her room and she said, hands on hips, “I won’t do it and you can’t make me.” Michael overheard this as he passing by in the hallway and: popping in, he asked “what did you just say to your mother?” Shea looked at him with a beatific smile on her little face and, very gently said “Oh, don’t worry. It’s OK. Her rules don’t work for me.” So if “another later” isn’t sufficient, you might consider whether the rules are working for you.

Yesterday, the rules weren’t working for me; waiting until another later to think about it in detail seems to have helped. Today, with the sun shining and the prospect of great sunshine for at least part of the day, I’m back to seeing the big picture and the long-term goal of total recovery through slow and sure progress. Even if it did take me until this morning to remember the name of the man with whom I worked for years (literally) we ran into at Jarlings on Friday night. And that could just be aging, right?

Thanks for the emails and other contacts. It’s nice to feel connected. We send you wishes for a restful and restorative Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. Okay--so you think the entries are too lengthy!! Get over it. Some of us are finding the whole process of taking charge of a life with such intensity and intention quite compelling--made even more so by our knowledge of you and your family. It seems to me--quite selfishly--that if you are going to be a tortoise (and knowing that you are deeply "Tina") you will have no choice but to write fully.

    Take care, dear friend, and I look forward to seeing you soon.