Thursday, October 22, 2009

Inching Forward

I have been having useful, actual ideas recently. What a relief and what a step forward! This has just started happening regularly in the last week or so; this return to how it used to feel thinking is most welcome. It’s actually hard to describe what a relief it is to feel like my thinking self again. I’ve felt like myself in personality since waking up from the anesthesia, but my thinking has been muddy with many ups and downs. It’s still not all the way there, but whatever’s changed recently makes a world of positive difference. How odd this all is: who knew that I had a way it felt to think, that it could change, and that it could then change back?

At the same time, my brain has stopped reading fiction again. There was a small reprieve in the last few weeks where I was able to read and enjoy two or three books. In the last few days, though, the instant I begin reading, I get tired and not, well, bored, but switched off. It’s strange and it’s consistent, so with some sadness, the book has been pushed to the back shelf to try again “another later”, to use the phrase Kearney coined as a small child. Another later is a useful concept that doesn’t close doors, so we’ll see. There’s still change happening inside there, and that this interest/ability switches on at all is encouraging, so here's another thought for the “ever hopeful” column.

There are things going on in my brain while I sleep that are different now, too. I’ve always solved problems while I sleep, and that stopped over the last year. Now, it’s like the mechanism for problem-solving is gearing up, though it’s not actually working on anything real. The old pattern was that I’d loop on a problem all night, and by morning it would be clarified in a way that I could articulate better and thus start moving it to a solution path, or at least head it in a positive direction. The current pattern is that I’m looping all night on meaningless stuff--not problems, and often not anything I care very much about. It’s like the mechanism is gearing up, and not yet ready to do any real work, just practicing. This started about the time I woke up hearing Moon River in my head; Cape J pointed out that there’d been a full-page ad in the NYT that day for an Andy Williams biography and wondered if that had stimulated my sound track. We talked about it and finally decided that I’d awakened with it in my head before we brought the papers in, so probably not, though it was an enticing idea that had offered some relief. Oh well. Every night now, the solving machinery seems to practice; last night, my thoughts looped all night on something about the pool at the hotel we stayed in when we visited Shea. I have no clue why or of what possible use it was. It's strange to have recurring thoughts in which I'm not particularly interested, except as a phenomenon.

Today brings the consult with the guy who specializes in endocrine effects of brain surgery, along with Dr. Thoughtful. We’re looking forward to that, and maybe to both some illumination about this path I’m on and a new direction for the brain chemistry experiments. The steroid tapering is still underway, and my morning cortisol levels are still very low. On the other hand, there are clearly some changes underway in there, so overall, hope reigns.

Anyone have any suggestions for a great book that might be the basic text for the class I’m designing for next semester? It’s a train-the-trainers course for upper classmen to lead discussion sections of the new professional responsibility course for freshmen. I’d like to find a book that covers skills like leading discussions that is business-y and that can map to running meetings and the world of work. Any ideas?

Happy Thursday to all.

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