Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Onward and Upward

The park district referendum passed yesterday, which is great news for Michael (president of the Park Board and leading the referendum effort) and so did a sales tax increase for the schools. Amazing and wonderful, especially in this economy. Life will begin to get less hectic in our house with this behind us. The presentation on Monday went better than feared and not as well as would have been nice. It went, though, and there were things to be learned from it to do better next time, so that’s all a gain.

During the travel, I learned that an airplane seat hits the remaining small tender area on my head with great precision. I’d learned this lesson once before (how often have I written that???) and figured it shouldn’t be an issue this far out from the surgery, so didn’t even think of taking my neck pillow with me. It’s a pain to carry around (even the blow up ones are a pain), and I’d always rather travel light. However, it was a bad call. The remaining tender area isn’t very big, and it’s not noticeable in regular life between the buckwheat pillows and natural adaptations to things that are sore. As I set off on the next trip, though, a neck pillow will definitely be on the list.

For most daily work, I’ve switched entirely away from Microsoft Word and except for the fact that the spell checker in Pages isn’t very sophisticated or as useful as Word’s and one or two clunky steps required, I’m completely content with the shift. It’s been an interesting exercise to learn new software and surely is good brain exercise if nothing else. Brain exercise seems important, as the cognitive gaps and deficits remain vexing: on Monday, talking about a concept I’ve written and talked about for years, I had a sudden blank and couldn’t reconstruct a key bit. There was a guy in the group who had my book (and obviously had been reading it) who said “oh! that’s in your book,” found the page, read the relevant phrases out and got things back on track. He was nice about it and I thanked him, and went on, trying not to show how foolish I felt. That kind of event seems far more likely to be attributable to brain surgery than plain old aging, though some of the other problems I see could easily be either. Whatever the source, the blank spots are frustrating.

Over the past few weeks, one of the exercises that’s been reintroduced into my routine is one that I’d been trying to do in the summer before surgery and just couldn’t do because it triggered such intense headaches. (Now we know why; at the time, my worry was that my aversion to the exercise was psychosomatic because I didn’t much like doing it and thus was coming up with excuses to avoid it. Guess I wasn’t as crazy as I’d feared.) Nothing about moving my head and neck that way trigger headaches anymore, but a deep aversion to moving that way remains. It’s a strange experience and one that involves a series of intellectual moves first to figure out why I’m reluctant and then to remind myself that it won’t hurt this time.

This business of trying to find a balance between paying enough attention to what the body is saying and not overreacting to what might be passing whims is complicated. Why is it so hard to reach balance in so many dimensions in our lives? Why is this aspect of being a grown-up, along with several others I could list, so tedious?

In any event, the hard part of the week is over and the rest holds some good stuff and some events that just require work and concentration--paying attention, all the while, of course, to the overall balance of energy at any given time. I do wonder if this balancing act will ever come to a graceful end, and then step back and remember, yet again, that these are the good problems to have and how lucky I am to have them. Perspective is such a great thing. Here’s to a healthy perspective on all our endeavors. I hope yours are going well. Stay in touch.

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