Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thoughts about Saturday and my progress

We have been encountering our first technical problems blogging. We’re getting email saying that people are having trouble leaving comments here, and yesterday, we never did succeed in getting an accurate time/date stamp on the posting. We're a bit confused, since the using the software has been so smooth until now. We'll keep working to get it sorted out. We have found on Macs that the software is much happier in Firefox than Safari, but even that didn’t seem to help yesterday. Your comments mean much to us so we do hope you'll keep trying.

Saturday was a forward-progress day, with only very small setbacks. I was awake for a longer stretch at one time than since before surgery and had lovely reconnections with family and friends. My energy is growing and the pain is better. Reading and short-term memory, which had been improving, took a setback after a steady improvement until then. All told, though, a positive day.

M, a friend from one of the hardest periods of my life, high school after my mother died, drove over from Indianapolis to visit, bringing King's rib tips. Were they wonderful! The visit was deeply comforting, despite the several disconcerting events where I completely lost track of my train of thought. M and Michael were really nice about it, of course, as two of the nicest men in the universe together in one room, but it didn’t feel very good. Our lives have been intertwined for a long time and being together was soothing and peaceful.

For several decades now, we’ve been in the hands of R the hair magician and yesterday, he used his care and skills to help get more of the caked-on stuff out of my hair and scalp. It felt wonderful and it was also nice to be participating again in an activity from our real life. He wouldn’t let us pay, saying it was his way of offering care through this time. Friendship and love sustain us.

Yesterday brought wonderful notes of love and support and news from my mother’s family, from one of my aunts and a cousin with whom I’ve been out of touch for some time. They have been following this blog and pulling for us. Being back in more direct contact is another source of joy.

When I can, I’ve been reading and enjoying Suzy Becker’s I’ve Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?, brought over by friend D. The author is an artist/cartoonist, and I’m enjoying reading it when I can. Her tumor was also on the left side in the parietal lobe, but not a meningioma. Similarities and differences among people are so interesting. The thing that’s been most striking to me so far is her initial ambivalence about removal surgery. To say that was not our reaction would be a gross understatement. As soon as we knew there was something alien in my head, our reaction was immediately and unanimously that it needed to come out. Right now. We set to work on finding the right doctors as quickly as we could, focused entirely on the goal of Get It Out. Cancerous, non-cancerous, we didn’t care, we didn’t want it there. Elapsed time from diagnosis to surgery: under a week. Suzy’s elapsed time was more like five weeks. I do know that I’m an impatient person (I work on this all the time, even if you cannot tell) but I think this is at base about something much more deeply rooted in personality than impatience. It’s food for thought.

There’s a lot to work through about this experience, and it is going to take some time. I’m working on it, along with thinking carefully about answers to the thoughtfully-posed, caring questions you have sent about why I’ve been so driven to work on grading student papers at this time in my life. There are a lot of parts to the answer, but the most fundamental truth is because it lets me keep being me. Becker’s book ultimately revolves around the fear of losing herself. Keeping this blog (thank you for reading it) and focusing on the papers help me feel that I’m still me. I may, and probably should, become a different (we hope better?) me after all of this, but the most basic truth and fear that underlies all else is losing who I am. Your affirmations that I still sound like Tina have been powerful positive medicine for me. Thanks for being out there and caring.


  1. Take the time to drive out to Curtis Apple Orchard and get some fresh cider. Maybe even a hot doughnut. Yum.

  2. The fact you are grading your student's papers does not surprise me. I think those of us who need control will always look for ways to regain control when we go through something that forces us to lose control. I would imagine when having brain surgery this tendency is even greater. You do seem to be the Tina we all know and love which makes everyone smile. So keep grading, keep reading, keep napping, go on little adventures-all about one day at a time.

  3. Of course you are grading papers! But you are also sitting in the sun--on a weekday!-eating ice cream with chocolate sauce and driving by Crystal Lake Park. Reading your blog makes me slow down to savor what is good about life. You are teaching us all.

    Much love--have a good night.