One of the oddest experiences of myself after surgery is the feeling, re-feeling of being a somewhat rebellious teenager. Now, in fact when I was a teenager I sort of rebelled against expectations by succeeding on certain levels. I was “Head Girl” at my high school, East High in Denver, and I had a starring role in the musical, and sang in a National Award Winning Jazz Choir on the official levels, competed on speech trails, and kept up my grades sort of. But I was risque on unofficial levels. Like when I went with my family to Australia, I had a wild two-day affair with an absolute stranger named Les, who was the first young man I knew with an earring, tattoo, leather pants and a motorcycle. I scared my cousin Josh to being unnerved as I went for a ride away with Les, and later made out with him in an arcade, and then had us meet us at a bar in Manley. I bought my first red mini skirt the next day, and later introduced Les to the cousins, but honestly, I would only be in Sydney for one or two more days, and it was already fading even as I got stoned with him and rode over Sydney Harbor bridge on the back of his motorbike...
|she was just 17, if you know what I mean...|
I finally started calling all the nurses from under the covers and telling them that they’d have to do more surgery or something because it seemed clear to me that as marvelous as it felt Monday, it was equally horribly just two days later. Something was NOT RIGHT about healing with so much pain, so little sleep and the inability to keep even my glasses on to see because of the trouble they caused.
The nurse I finally reached guessed right from the start about my grumpiness, and said, ah, yes. She asked about what I was taking and whether I wanted to get back on the narcotics, and I said not a chance unless they had to do surgery again. She agreed that the narcotics seemed to have made me sick even in the hospital. So, she said, “well, you’re two days early but why don’t you try Ibuprofen and see what happens.”
HALLELUJAH! My swelling brain is always the thing. I’ve had a near lifetime, well since rebellious teenage moments, migraines, and the accoutrement of aspirin and caffeine with Tylenol has always been the answer. Not being able to take the bits and pieces together has been pissing me off because I know what I know about my body and swelling. That’s why I’m avoiding wheat, dairy, nightshades, legumes as it is and that’s why I’m taking a gazillion anti-histamines along with the anti-seizure medication. Still that is not all enough to reduce the brain swelling and so finally a little addition of Ibuprofen, well, ahhhhh, it gave me hope.
Thus, I took three at first, then back to Tylenol four hours later, then four at bed time, and lo and behold I slept an entire four hours! And, took more Tylenol and felt okay for 2 more hours, and even though my head hurt there was this sense of opening a box of treasures inside, a feeling that I could begin to turn around the pain and become restful and peaceful again. This brought me back from the angry rebellion and into a notion of simple rebellious alliances that had more to do with ideas than with a feeling of trying things that could only last a few days in a hug of hopeless. You see when I had had that affair with Les back in 1981, I knew it was only for a few days. It shocked me when I received letter after letter in the following months from him with half a dozen stamps each. I don’t remember even writing back to him because already I’d sent myself into so many official experiences and projects and friendships locally. The few things I took back into my life from Les were a red mini-skirt, and how to roll my own cigarettes with Drum Tobacco. This appearance looked enough like a rebellion in 1982 to cause others to wonder what I was up to, and I felt ahead of the crowd as I wanted to, but in fact, had sunk back into routine.
Now that I’m a middle-aged woman with a plan to keep a connection to this brain surgery experience, I’ve concluded I won’t be the one who hides the scar in a new cover-up haircut. Rather I will show off for a while, this experience kind becomes of like a red mini-skirt from years before, and must be expressed by asymmetry and possibly some wild color after I get the staples out and the wound all healed. My willingness is to discuss the ups and downs of the whole affair this time, not just all pleasantries (for I was certainly frightened by the chance that Les could have really taken me down the wrong road, and this was something I put myself out for experiencing until it finally happened with some other lost boys, one after another), and at the same time understand it is actually a temporary upheaval. I will turn a corner at some point down the line and realize that brain surgery was something that happened and made an impact and scared the family even when I wasn’t particularly afraid but mostly was completely devoted to beholding the instance of the moment. Rather than abandoning its story, as I did abandon Les rather cruelly, this time I’m going to express this near rebellion with others who share the feelings, and celebrate the growth and travel through it, the good stuff and yes, the bad stuff even on my own part, too. I’m not willing to hide the distraction of this wondrous time, and I’m no longer willing to ignore the meanings of brief love affairs with life’s surprises.