Friday, March 23, 2012

Dealing with Discouragement

First Crack at Serious Self-Portrait
There is nothing to be overly discouraged about brain surgery. Honestly, it is a beautiful thing to be able to take care of a tumor, benign or malignant, in one’s head in 21st century America. There’s been vast improvement in the last couple of decades. Since I started talking and writing about the experience I have sensed the need to be open about everything that has happened, if for no other reason than to point to this truth. That statistics point to survival of this surgery at 98% should make this obvious, but the responses ran the gamut from hand-wringing despair to joyful prayer. It is simply hard to imagine opening up the skull and having a decent experience without those prayers, but the techniques and technology are pretty impressive.

This is not to say that discouragement doesn’t exist. Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows well that I have had some real downer moments. It wasn’t so much the surgery itself, but my body’s reaction to some of the preparation, and my mind’s genuine impatience and control freakishness with everything. Now that I’m five weeks out and clearly doing well, I can talk about some of the setbacks I’ve had in recovery without jumping up and down hysterically over them.

An obvious one, to me, is that I’m having a time with writing. I know what I want to write, but getting it out coherently is a real challenge. It’s not the big things. I think that the big, overall ideas are coming out okay, but, sentence-by-sentence, I am recently shocked by how difficult some of them are to read. What I’m used to taking for granted, words flowing out of my brain, I now have to take a step back from and wait for some clarity. It is as if everything I’m writing comes out a bit convoluted, and it horrifies me. I’m sorry about that because in social media, blogging, and poetry I’m used to shooting from the hip.  When I go back and read some response or even a blog, and realize I used the wrong word, or forgot grammar altogether so that the meaning had drained out of the words I got right, or just used to many redundancies, it is discouraging. The time it took to write seemed so blasted long before, that now I am a bit intimidated to start the projects I have in mind until this settles down.

I hope it settles down.

Additionally, I’ll tell you, I’m wondering if this has always been the case (convolution in my writing), in fact. Is it possible that it only just now that I’m becoming aware of it because the obstruction has been taken away? That’s possible. That would explain a lot about my career. That makes my hands sweat, just considering it.

That may be why I'm so happy to be doing visual art instead, and that's not too bad a trade at the moment.
While Cottonwoods Sleep

Then there are the issues of swelling around nerves, facial and tongue numbness paired with pain zapping and dry eye (only one dry eye). They don’t really tell you that in any surgery they’re likely to strike some nerves and push them out of balance one way or another. It happens, and mostly it simply takes some time to heal.

How do nerves heal, you may wonder. Well, I wondered, too, because I figured if I had an idea of how the nerves reset, or heal then I might be able to support the process and feel less worried about it. My research led me in many directions as usual. Perhaps, more importantly, I have cause to simply pay attention to the process unfolding, because some days it really bothers me and some days I forget about it.

So, guess, what? I’m writing about nerves and emotional turns, and it’s going to take me at least a week to put it down straight enough to post comfortably. In the meantime, enjoy the burst of spring this weekend, if it is happening near you, and be truly thankful for your face and tears and even runny allergic noses.

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