Saturday, October 11, 2008

Taking Stock, One Month Out

This trip has confirmed, or maybe emphasized, several things about this path to recovery. The most important to me was that I was able to interact effectively and enjoyably with the group at the university; my old “self” was back. That was a huge relief and exhilarating experience. I had a lot of fear about whether I’d be able to pull off what I went there to do. While I still have problems accessing words now and then, the short term memory problems are vastly reduced, and my perception is that mostly, it’s not that different than if these were simply senior moments. The second thing that emerged on this trip is that sleeping is reverting to more normal patterns. After the surgery, there wasn’t any choice but to sleep on my back, slightly elevated, to accommodate the incision and the wonky shoulder. With the healing of the incision (slower than desired, but what else is new?) and the immense improvements (especially while taped) of the shoulder, limitations on sleeping position are significantly reduced, even if not totally gone.

Taking stock overall, the situation is amazing. Who would have predicted I’d be able to travel and work a month after surgery? None of us, especially me, are losing track of how very fortunate we are. We count our blessings and try to retain a sense of joy and appreciation--and not to take any of this for granted.

The status report: most of the areas that felt “dead” have come back and feel almost normal, I am regaining control over the arm, the areas that tingle are vastly reduced, my thumb doesn’t hurt all the time, and my balance improves every day. I started to say, as I have before, that things are vastly better than we had any right to hope or expect, except that is not quite accurate.

I cannot speak for the rest of the family (who, I know, worried a lot about potential brain damage), but my thinking never really extended this far out. Between my denial (let’s face it: what else explains it taking two hours for it to register that a mass in my brain requiring a crainiotomy meant a brain tumor?) and my focus on “Get. It. Out.”, it would be hard to say honestly that I gave much thought to “after” or recovery. Those thoughts that occurred were mostly related to schedules and obligations, as in, how many to cancel? My focus on the moment and the next step were probably useful in getting through the process, but looking back, a little bemusing. Some of that can certainly be explained by the whirlwind of it all. The rest, I think, really does need to be attribute to denial. It’s not just a river in Egypt, as they say.

Otherwise, so long as I pace myself properly (remembering, always, the tortoise), I present a reasonable facsimile of the ordinary Tina. Just not as much as there used to be, nor as there will be again, I hope. When we took the tape off the shoulder this morning, the skin underneath looked just fine, and Michael’s marks are holding up for the retaping. Even without the tape, the range of motion is better, though not as good as with the tape yet. So the progress is discernable, if only I stop to assess and appreciate it, as I’m sure a good tortoise does regularly to help maintain the pace and the direction towards the ultimate goal.

At the university, one of the other presenters in the program had fascinating, complementary knowledge to mine and opened up new horizons for me. He attended all of my sessions and, afterwards, when we were debriefing with the program coordinator, his insights, based partly on body language and micro-expressions, were fascinating. He and I always got to the same place, through completely different paths, with different vocabulary and concepts. I want to learn some of what he knows! His work focuses on nonverbal communicative information (based on NLP and John Grinder’s work) and behaviorism. He and I talked about potential collaborations that could be exciting. Fun!

We had a great visit with D and J, and then with family afterwards.

We are looking forward to a wonderful weekend and we send you our wishes for the same.

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