Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Year Since, Part I

Part I

It has been a year since I went to St. Anthony’s Hospital at the crack of dawn and had
my skull sawed open, an incredible year in many ways. I survived. That’s the
first thing. I survived and have so much to be thankful for all that’s around
me. I want to review that for my own good, and to clarify that challenges can
be met. The second thing I have to do is to face that in the next six months
or so I’m going to know how far the healing can go, and I’ve already begun to
accept that there are now things that will never go back to the way they were
without a miracle.  Finally, I want to do something with this acceptance
besides sigh, I want to embrace what I can do instead of tripping over the
obstacles again and again.

When I announced that I’d been diagnosed with a brain tumor, a benign meningioma on my left temporal lobe, back in October of 2011, I was rather in shock to be
honest. Giddy almost, I was, that there was really something to blame for the
never-ending headache and messed up phraseology. It wasn’t all-in-my-head, but
really it was something and it could be addressed now! Then I had the challenge of
getting on the right medication to deal with it, and that was a four-month
ordeal I didn’t expect, but like everything in my life, it seems, sort of
slowed down the pace of my impulsive tendency to rush in. I need those slowdowns
to step right up often, and so they seem to do that.

During those four months I received a great deal of support from people all over the
world, and dove deeper into far flung friendships through poetry sharing and
commenting deep into the lonely nights. I so appreciate the willingness of
people I barely knew then to stand by me, even if only in cyberspace, and
listen to my moaning and groaning, cheer me up with good and naughty jokes and
hold my cyber hand. I did not want to visit in person that often with people at
that time. I did not have much vital energy for live chit chat, but I valued
not being totally isolated. What an awesome social web it was, keeping me from
falling into a chasm of despair.

Meanwhile, my family drew in and caught me when I fell and let me cry on their
shoulders when one medication after another turned out to be that list of side
effects they play out at the end of a commercial. The fact is I will never know
if I could have made it through this experience without walking my dog, without
knowing that I was needed by my kids for something or other, without long hugs
through dark nights. They were there and they helped me through, and that is it.

So, the surgery went really well, I still believe, even if it isn’t to this day
perfect. It took four hours. I felt immediately relieved of the grayness that
had been in my head for nearly a decade and was getting very dark up to that
moment. I could count, speak, write, talk, walk and eat. All is well. I went
home in five days. I laid around for a week or two, and took up drawing,
inspired by “My Stroke of Insight,” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, whose
book I read before surgery. I had the notion that if the pressure was off my
left temporal lobe finally, perhaps, that gave my right brain a chance, a chance
to finally get a word or an image into the conversation I have been having with

Five hours after they sawed my skull open...might good hat!
Oh my!

2013 © Amanda Morris Johnson


Gail Storey said...

Wow, Amanda, this account of your brain surgery and recovery is fascinating and inspiring! I especially love the photo of you in your "hat" with radiance streaming from your beautiful eyes!

Libby said...

Thanks for writing this post Amanda. Your triumph inspires many other people!

Amanda Morris Johnson said...

Thank you so much, Gail and Libby, for taking the time to read this saga. I really appreciate it. Two parts to follow tomorrow and Saturday. :)

I do hope it will give people in challenging situations some confidence that they'll make it through.


Debra Jason said...

WOW, what a strong and inspirational woman you are. Glad you had walks with your dog - our pets can be true saviors in the healing process.
And, hugs from your kids - one can never receive too many hugs.
Here's to your ongoing healing process, may it be smooth & swift.
Thanks for sharing your journey.