Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks for Hair

People who haven’t seen me since surgery usually comment on how great I’m looking. The usually unspoken subtext here seems to be “compared to what I expected (or feared).” Sometimes, if spoken, the next remark is “you still have hair!” Those comments especially come from those familiar with brain surgery, who have had some form themselves, usually, or know someone who has. The fact that the neurosurgeon only shaved the incision and not my whole head has been an enormous positive throughout this experience, though it may be that I’m only just now truly appreciating the full extent of his gift.

Among other things, it lets me go out in the world without having to be a “brain surgery survivor” at every turn with a headful of stubble or very short hair. Pretty much, I look like I have always looked. Although there are still frustrations with not being able to do as much as I’d like, or as fast, the tumor and surgery are not central facts of my existence or identity. It’s great to be able to talk about this experience when it’s appropriate and otherwise just let it be. A local brain tumor survivor organization has generously reached out to me, with resources and offers of support. As I thought about it, I realized that having had a brain tumor removed is for me simply a medical adventure I had—and am still having—but, for now at least, that’s it.

Counting my many blessings is important to me, and today, I’m thinking anew about giving thanks for having hair. The glorious feeling when I was first able to wash my hair again myself is still real to me, and I hope not to forget it anytime soon. Having a full head of hair, ditto.

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