Monday, February 21, 2011

Selective Recall

Our mail the other day contained a letter from the clinic imaging center. “Oh,” I thought, “it’s time for another brain scan.” Actually, the letter was a reminder to schedule a mammogram. My first response, though, is a pretty accurate indicator of my world these days, in that while it’s receding somewhat, the tumor and the surgery are still defining characteristics in my self image. I gave a talk Friday night to a group, and the man who was assigned to introduce me had a large scar on the back of his head. When I asked (which I probably never would have done previously), yep, craniotomy. Brain stem tumor. Familial. When he was 22. Still has balance issues, but otherwise mostly forgets about it. I made him laugh, though, when I told him that, if I ever write a craniotomy adventure memoir, I’m going to call it “Perfect Hair for Brain Tumors.” Being able to laugh at this stuff is a must.

Speaking of laughing, when that isn’t happening, denial also really helps. Several of you asked after my last post if it meant some of the aftereffects of surgery I didn’t mention were improved when they weren’t listed among the remaining leftover effects. Nope. All it means is that I have selective recall and tend to suppress elements I’ve learned to deal with when they’re not immediate issues. For example, just like my brain tumor buddy at the talk, balance is still a challenge most of the time and except in my own home, I still don’t go down stairs without help. Visual overload can still be an issue and leads to downward spirals in balance, energy and memory. In places that are too loud, ditto. Yes, my scalp still clicks, and the strangenesses related to the entire right shoulder/arm/neck is omnipresent. I still do physical therapy and work on the balance and my arm/shoulder consistently. Whatever. The bottom line is still the same: these are the good problems to have, and I feel lucky. The selective recall is a positive feature in terms of coping, in my book.

Speaking of book, the new structure is an advance, but the writing still isn’t there. The reading of the version I put together didn’t lead to raves, to put it mildly. We haven’t given up; the contract is still in place, but the finish line is farther away.

It’s grey and rainy here today: the perfect day to stay indoors, tidy up some loose ends and then go back to looking at the book structure to see what kind of wrenching around I can do to play to its existing strengths and devise a plan for improving the parts my editor called too “drafty.”

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