Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An N of One is Always a Problem

The question of what’s self-indulgent driveling as opposed to useful examination of a strange experience is rearing its head. My puritan self is impatient with this navel-gazing. At the same time, writing here helps--enormously--to make sense of this adventure and to build some perspective. Thus, these entries appear day after day. Does the fact that this helps me organize and understand this experience outweigh the selfishness? Probably not, in the puritan world view. On the other hand, no one is being forced to read anything here and the comments I get are caring, thoughtful and helpful. It’s a conundrum with which I regularly wrestle. The benefit of committing my thoughts in fixed form still outweighs the cringe factor. Thanks for being out there.

It’s frustrating how little is known about our brains, which leads to the overarching observation about how odd it is that recovery from a craniotomy--a regularly performed procedure in western medicine--should be so highly individualized and so little understood. It’s difficult not to know at any given moment whether the effects I’m experiencing are tumor/surgery aftermath, something else idiosyncratic, or maybe just an artifact of aging/menopause. A good friend recently told me that she’s had the morning music-of-youth effect, which she attributes to hormones. This adventure would be so much easier if there was a roadmap, rather than this experience of getting on a conveyor belt without either the journey or destination well defined. The head-on confrontation with uncertainty is probably good for the too-rigid parts of my personality, but it’s surely not comfortable.

Still and all, we're clearly on a upward trajectory: this month is better than last month, which was better than the month before. The cost of tapering is higher than is comfortable and yet the goal is worthy, so I’m persevering. I’ll be glad when this is over and we can all look back on it and share some mirth about it.

Last week, I assembled the bits and pieces that have accumulated for this book that’s underway; to my surprise, I found more than a hundred pages of manuscript. My editor, upon reading it, was encouraging and also, very, very tactfully remarked that the writing is more diffuse than before. Straightforward feedback nicely presented is always a gift, and it’s a relief in to know that it’s not just my subjective sense that things are off, but that there is some objective evidence of it as well. This leaves the job of fixing whatever is wrong and the question of when--and whether--my thinking will become clear enough to do a publishable job. I’m still motivated, so will keep plugging. Only time will tell, and as we all know by now, we’ll know more next week.



  1. Selfishness?! I think I commented once before how privileged I feel to be granted such an intimate view of your thinking and daily life. I look forward to and learn from every post. I consider it very unlikely I am alone in these sentiments.

  2. i woke up the other morning with "how do you do what you do to me?" by Herman's Hermits playing in my head.

    the really scary part was that i remember all the words.


  3. I too have been sharing my journey publicly. I relate well to cringing about that yet getting value from the process. Am glad I found your website -- your writings and experiences resonate strongly with me.