brain tumor, old (2007), recovery

two years later

Today’s the second anniversary of the day I had a craniotomy to remove a meningioma from my frontal-parietal lobe. It’s still a hugely hard thing to wrap my mind around (no pun intended); there was less than a month between my diagnosis and the surgery, and then ten days after I was out of the hospital, I went back to work and school. I still remember driving to school that first day back — what was I thinking DRIVING two weeks after having my head drilled open?!?! — and having the entire left side of my body go numb as I went up the 290 exit ramp to Morgan. It was one of many focal seizures I had over the course of a few weeks, and it was horrifying, trying to steer with a hand that couldn’t feel anything while I shifted gears and parked the car.

In retrospect, I have no idea how I managed. I don’t know how I listened (without screaming) to the assistant department head tell me I’d only be able to take two weeks off of school or else I’d lose my funding and have to drop out of graduate school. I don’t know how I walked around my neighborhood with a cane and a shaved head and a clearly visible scar the day after I got home from the hospital (four days post-op). I don’t know how I went back to grading papers and making lesson plans and taking three classes. I don’t know how I was able to be a mom during those weeks after surgery, when my energy levels were depleted severely.

Actually, I do know how I did it: with the help of the hip mamas, who came together to bring me food and watch the boys and generally help me through the process. There were some glitches along the way — which at the time I felt resentful about — but, looking back, I would have never been able to get back to work and school so quickly if not for my mama friends. (And I’m going out to celebrate tonight with many of them. Yay!)

The reason I mention this: as I talk more to L. and go to more meetings and think more about my past, reality is setting in. I’ve been through a lot, and while maybe that’s obvious, all along I’ve thought, I’m living through it, I’m coping, I’m managing, so it mustn’t be all that bad. Well, it was. And it is. And I haven’t been doing that great of a job managing. And I never have. All of a sudden, all of the things I’ve always thought as proof that I could handle the world and manage the stress and cope with disaster are reconceptualized as instances of what the hell was I thinking?

As I get work done so I’ll have the time to go out tonight with my friends to celebrate my anniversary, I’m grateful things tanked with D., because I’d otherwise never talked with A. about the program. And if I’d never met A., I’d never have met L., and I’d never have come to the place where I am now. I guess that means I’m grateful for serendipity. As we should all be.