For whatever reason, my brain refused to let me write since the last post. I’ve come up with some worthwhile openings but the grey matter didn’t give a hoot if my posts became erratic and not so scheduled. It also doesn’t pay to write ahead, as I often change my mind as each day brings some new experience that I feel worthy of discussion. I decided that I can improvise just fine, as long as I have a good start. Like Hayao Miyazaki, who didn’t quite know how Spirited Away would turn out, I would create as I went along, with no set plot to guide me. The mind knows what to do if I listen to it. Things will work out in the end.
So I listened, took some major naps and some time for myself and have had marvelous results. I’ve actually felt closer to being my old self minus some emotional baggage, and set my attention to other things – like going to my first free talk on transcendental meditation.
Yes, it’s the meditation technique the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi guy taught the Beatles. But it’s also a thousands of years old practice, and that alone convinced me it’s nothing like scientology. I wasn’t really interested until a friend of mine from work came up to me shortly after my return and described his experience with such enthusiasm and went into animated detail about how his life had changed. He definitely wasn’t the type to be brainwashed or be conned into something that went against his beliefs, so I thought maybe there’s something valuable about transcendental meditation after all.
This also ties in with finishing the book Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. She described her right hemisphere experience during her stroke as euphoric, and felt a oneness with everything. I had a similar experience in the early part of my recovery, and was eager to regain that blissful wholeness with the universe again. Which is why I bought the book, hoping to gain insight on how she managed to achieve it voluntarily. After pages of reading about her recovery, the relationship between the two hemispheres as they function instantaneously to form our perception of reality, and occasional flights of delirious repetition about how wonderful it was to be in a state of right brain bliss, it turns out that all you need to do to drink the happy pink punch of the right hemisphere is meditate. This was kind of a let down, like some gentle explanation offered by Glenda the Good Witch of the North: “Silly brain tumor survivor, the power has been inside you all along! Now off with you, and quit complaining. ” (Or maybe the Ghost of Christmas Present in Scrooged is a better choice here).
Anyway, it’s possible that TM is my portal back to that world. I had never felt so joyful and complete and capable. I was actually about to attempt algebra problems just to see if I could figure them out – that’s how confident I felt in that state. I grieved when I first felt the signs of it receding from my waking life and negative parts of my old self returning.
I also hope to gain back some years that the craniotomy took from me. My social worker told me that any time the body is traumatized by major surgery or illness, you age faster than normal. I had told her I felt so old, and so tired. But I’ve also noticed that it has gotten remarkably easier to let worries go, which is the bonus of all of this forced aging. I’m experiencing a certain maturity that I’d never had before – which may have been inevitable but instead of happening in the next five years, it’s happening now. I’m ok with all of this. And once I get going with the TM my brain will light up like the night sky on Independence Day, and I’ll really be something else.
I discovered immediately that the back of my closed eyelids were completely different now that the sun was up- which was unexpected and kinda horrifying. They were no longer the usual orangey color when a light was on, but had changed to a very faint, light green, with dark blue and dark red veiny lines going across. I opened and closed them again to make sure it was real. (Oh, yes. Very real.) I wondered if this was permanent, and what other surprises awaited me as I recovered.
Meanwhile, Nurse Starlord was replaced with Nurse Ponytail, as he sported salt and pepper long hair tied into a neat pony tail. He was coldly efficient, lacking the warmth of his predecessor. I had become very sensitive to such things – which nurses gave me comfort and and security, and who were patient and understanding as I stammered, unable to get my sentences out They wouldn’t finish my sentences for me like a few of the other nurses, whose impatience I keenly felt. They didn’t bother saying “I’ll find out for you” and responded with “I don’t know, the orders haven’t come yet” when you had a question about your care. At this point I had developed an intuition about who was truly in the moment of caring and who was distracted by life things that kept them from being more devoted. Call it a new empathic skill, I guess. Or heightened sensitivity.
My mother and sister-in-law came to visit, and I hadn’t seen my sister-in-law for at least five years. We’d had a little disagreement a while ago, my tendency for holding grudges prevented me from communicating with her up until now. But all that fell away as soon as she walked in and squeezed my hand. Through this one gesture, I sensed that she was willing as me to start over with a clean slate. It was one less burden in my heart, which I was glad to let go of.
My doctor and one of her assistants came in to remove my head bandages and discuss my release. I felt like the Joker as I felt the gauze come off, and hoped I wouldn’t be met with something that would drive me so insane that I fell into a life of criminal mayhem. Although, it would be nice to have an army of henchmen at my command, wouldn’t it? From what I saw the bandages were bloodless and clean, and once off she examined the wound.
“Very nice,” she murmured, gently prodding the sutures. “These will eventually dissolve, so we won’t need to touch this area again. Just let it heal on its own.” My husband asked about showering and she said just be gentle and don’t let any water or soap hit the area directly yet. I was dying to wash the dried gel from my hair, which at the moment gave my hair a bouffant sort of shape. Also I was glad to be able to wear my glasses again, and see what was going on.
Much to our collective joy, plans were in the works for releasing me the next day, which was pretty unbelievable as far as I was concerned. I had expected more recuperation after brain surgery, but this was good news as the whole hospital scene was getting very tiresome. I was also very ready to be back in my own familiar bed and reunited with my fluffy ragdoll cat. They told me an occupational therapist would visit sometime in the morning, and the outcome of that visit would determine how ready I was to go home.
This is probably the closest I’ve ever been to feeling homesick, and I would show the occupational therapist how more than ready I was to be released. I was getting to the bathroom with little assistance, and I had emerged with my personality intact. What more could a person want after having their melon muddled with?
Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough, and as my husband carefully washed my hair that night before bed I realized this was just the first phase of my journey. The second would come tomorrow, and then I would see how I would get along with life outside.