Saturday, December 20, 2008


We seem to be sliding from Part Five into Part Six: up until recently, there was not much choice about what to do. Most days were spent either asleep or doing recovery-related activities like the six appointments a week for various forms of therapy. As I continue to get stronger, more choices have opened up. It all brings to mind the (vastly more complex) theory in Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice, essentially that having too many choices is exhausting and eventually depletes psychological well-being.

Clearly, my situation is a far cry from that. At the same time, there is something about the more restricted set of choices of Parts Two through Four that were easier. A tremendous amount of time now seems to be spent trying to predict how much energy I’ll have, balancing as I go along, and otherwise focusing on picking and choosing activities. From the beginning, we’ve been told that it would take between a year and two years to recover fully from brain surgery. This time frame has been consistently reinforced by the comments of those we know (or are directed to) who have had experiences like this one. The reality of restricted energy is boring. There are days when it makes me cranky, which immediately makes me feel like a total ingrate, because of how profoundly lucky we have been, from the first instant to now. Even keeping a balanced perspective takes energy!

Other than the ongoing shoulder and balance issues, the primary remaining effect from the surgery is the state of the incision scar. I continue to appreciate my buckwheat pillow (thank you, pillow concierge), as while much of the scar has completely disappeared, there remain three or four mildly inflamed areas that are quite sore. The surgeon told us at the recent check-up he thinks the incision looks good and about as expected. The inflamed bits seem to be standard for this state of recovery. The sensitive area of my scalp is vastly smaller than it was previously, but there is still a region that’s not right. The ability to punch a dent in the buckwheat pillow so those tender areas never touch is grand.

Finishing the marathon semester required serious exertion, so in among the week’s tasks of mopping up loose ends and excavating my desk, sleeping was my other major activity. More rest and a very low-key, loving Christmas are now the main agenda. It would be really nice if we could remember where we put the missing Christmas presents: items I bought on vacation and put “in a really safe place” are completely AWOL. It’s hard to tell what combination this might be of senioritis, overload, or not being sufficiently organized to note where we stored things. Alternatively, we had some basement organization work underway at one point, and it’s also possible that we simply outsmarted ourselves by starting a new organization system that was interrupted by the deluge of the medical adventure that followed. Whatever the cause, it’s deeply aggravating that we have very cool gifts we cannot find. We wake up in the night and exchange ideas, none of which have yet been fruitful. We’ll keep at it, and eventually, they’ll surface. Sooner would be better than later, but at this point, just finding the darn stuff would be gratifying.

Happy weekend. May it be as peaceful for you as we are planning for ours to be.

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