Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One Month Check-up

MRIs are not a lot of fun. Mine today was another contrast MRI, and involved getting an IV port (since removed) and 30-40 minutes of scan. On the other hand, the MRI made the precision of the surgery possible and there are many worse things, plus, it’s over. Our visit with the surgeon afterwards was short and crisp: my progress is good, the tumor void is 80-90 percent refilled with my brain and the incision is healing nicely. He did say that it would take about three months for my scalp/head to feel normal again and the soft spot I dislike so much is likely from the first drill hole. (Ick.) Between the two appointments and the necessary nap afterwards, the morning evaporated. I have another follow-up with him in a month and another MRI in six months. Whatever filling-in my brain is going to do will likely be complete by then; he said that, when tumors get as big as mine did, the void never refills completely and that my progress is encouraging. In the scans, we could clearly see the scar line from the surgery as well as the space not yet filled. It was interesting, especially if I turn off the part that identifies that as any of me. Or my brain. Truly, it is amazing what medical science is able to do these days.

The leaves outside my bedroom window are turning, and they are glorious. I have a few more papers to grade for today’s class, and then class. We are having an old, old family friend for dinner who is in town to give a seminar on campus. He worked with my mother and we are all anxious to see him. (For the inquiring minds wondering about this, I’ll rest between class and dinner.) And then, the rest of the week will be very low-key and restful. It’s likely that I have some accumulated exertion to rest off, plus it would be grand to be able to start getting some exercise again on an organized basis (beyond the therapy). Today the surgeon cleared me to do anything I am comfortable with if the energy is there. We’ll see if things are scheduled properly, if that is possible.

With low-level headaches still going on and still taking a ton of meds, my reading and quickness aren’t returning as quickly as I would like. (Tortoise, tortoise.) In the back of my mind, if I’m honest, I’m worried they will not ever return. Now, in addition to working on my patience and grace, I’m working on being more optimistic. This morning, while occupied with medical stuff, Michael’s cell phone rang and went to voice mail. Characteristically, I worried that maybe something had happened to Shea at school and that we should check it in case it was an emergency, and Michael assumed it was not a big deal and a call that could be checked at leisure. (Need I mention that he was right and I was wrong, again?) Despite my general can-do, problem-solving attitude, I do tend to be a catastrophist. Not about myself, only about those in my zone of caring, or natural disasters. This has some positive consequences, as we are well prepared for a tornado with a storm shelter. We’re less well prepared for a flu epidemic, but it’s there in the back of my mind to think about when there is time.

The yard sign enigma still puzzles me. I get the residential restrictions and the lower-key necessity in a state like California, but not the contrast between the small towns in Illinois and Urbana (also not really “in play,” as they say). Surely people everywhere are the same with the same impulses to root for their cause? Is this a cultural difference somehow?

Speaking of people being people, the great speaker I met in California recommended Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), so I’ve (very slowly) been reading it. This is another book well worth your time about how people justify their own actions, cognitive dissonance, the confirmation bias, etc. It’s by Tavris and Aronson.

That’s the medical progress report. All positive, with a distance still to go. It only takes hard work (can do) and patience (iffier, and still a work in progress). Still, it is not like there is any choice about being patient here: it can go easily and gracefully or by being constantly restive, but the healing is going to take as long as it takes. So, the goal is to be patient and graceful. You might not always recognize it, but that is indeed the goal.

Have a great Tuesday! Big hugs to all of you who are caring and supporting us through this adventure. We send our caring and our profound gratitude back to you.

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