Sunday, August 23, 2009


Where to start? Having two trips in one week was taxing even “before” with full reservoirs of energy. Even so, the week worked out pretty well. It took all day yesterday to begin to catch up on sleep, email, accumulated tasks, etc; today will bring more of the same. That will be good, as working at home, in my own setting, isn’t as costly as being out in the world, and I’m anticipating a pleasant day, with friends for dinner at the end.

There’s still something about the combination of new places and people that leads to visual/sensory overload and causes difficulties. Thursday night, we went out for a (great) dinner in Chicago with friends, and by the end of it, I’d lost my coordination. Fortunately, it was at the very end of the meal, and we were getting ready to leave anyway. As I think about it, the tipping point might well have been gathering myself to get up to leave. I'd been managing it all sitting still, but adding movement upset whatever equilibrium I'd had. Getting outside where the number of people and noise was reduced helped a lot, and by the time we’d walked a block to the car, my balance was coming back into service and my visual field had calmed down. This kind of thing has become a regular feature of life, and we're getting better all the time at managing it.

The friends we saw in Chicago hadn’t seen me in some months, and remarked upon the progress I’ve made since our last visit. In the everyday-ness of life, it’s too easy to lose track of the progress in this slow and less dramatic section of our adventure. This has been less so recently, when there’s been a consolidation of gains, and overall, I feel better than I have since well before the surgery. Sometime in the last few weeks, we've gradually moved up another notch, and this new level of functionality is most welcome. At the same time, talking with the Chicago friends, the extent of my memory/cognitive gaps was on full display. Our friends used to be here, though for more than a year they’ve been immersed in a new place, jobs, people, etc. Still, their recall of names and events here was crisper and faster than mine in noticeable ways. I usually came up with the name or managed to get to the same place as everyone else, but much more slowly, with consistent lags in my access time. That’s frustrating, since being quick has always been a hallmark of Tina-ness, and that seems to be gone, at least for now.

Upon reflection, there have been fundamental changes wrought by this process, including this new fuzziness in a variety of areas. I can compensate and/or adjust to these differences, but that doesn’t alter the fact that they are real, and some of them are fairly major as lived from the inside. They’re just not defining when put in the larger context.

One of my goals early on was to deal with what came with patience and grace. Achieving even half of such a big change seems worthy of note. I never have managed much patience with any of this. It was worth aiming for but while I’m calmer, patience probably doesn’t describe me at any point. On the other hand, it feels, at least to me, that for most of the adaptations that have been required, I’ve managed with relative grace. When you stop laughing and want to find a way to dissent, please let me down gently. Please also remember that there was remedial work to do before starting to achieve forward progress, and credit that in your calculations.

Overall, I’m slower, calmer and sadder inside. Each of those contributes to an ability to perceive, focus upon and celebrate the smaller pleasures of life. It’s an odd way to come by acceptance, and this adventure still seems unbelievable and surreal. The concept of having had a brain tumor--that would be in my head--is one that remains confounding. And then, while I’m thinking about all that, I notice how beautiful the trees outside our bedroom window are in the angled morning sun and switch to thinking about how it’s a gorgeous, sunny, atypical August day here. There’s no humidity to speak of and it’s a truly lovely temperature. We walked in Crystal Lake Park yesterday and likely will do again today.

I choose to be happy. There’s much to be happy about. May it be the same for you.

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