The modern world in a lot of ways is a screwed up place. There’s levels of war, disease, famine, pestilence, inequity and terror that go on today that are fueled by the innovations of modern technology that make me crazy sad for our future. And then there are miracles of modern science that make me amazed at how far we’ve come from wee huts and caves.
Take, for example, brain surgery. Mine, for example.
I will be explaining a little bit about my brain surgery without getting too graphic. To do so, I will be using one of my favorite outlets: memes. Why? Because it’s fun and I’m not allowed to get out of bed yet too much, so I’m going to enjoy a little bit of meme related fun here.
Sunday evening, I was having a bit of a panic. I was scheduled to go into surgery to have my brain tumor, which had been nicknamed Larry after the annoying neighbor from Three’s Company, removed. As you can imagine, this very idea was making me quite panicked.
I posted about my tumor and how I was optimistic about getting the dang thing taken out, but the closer one gets to a surgery, the more panic can set in. So I went from ‘chin up, everything’s going to be fine’, to something like this:
One doesn’t have an option with this kind of thing, however. When the doctors say it’s time to take out the jelly bean sized thing inside your head that isn’t supposed to be there? You go for it. But before I did that, I sat back and had a good, nice long think about life. Why? You don’t go into something like this without thinking about what you’ve been doing with your time, and what you want to do going forward. Morbid, sure, but health issues really give you a priority-straightening whether you want one or not.
So I started to think about life. And fear. And what fear can do to you.
I stayed up most of the night before the surgery thinking about how fear can shape our lives. How it can drive away our greatest impulses and make us reach for safer ground. I remember when I was growing up, I wanted to be something or someone who would help people. I wanted to be a good person. I modeled myself after the super heroes I read in comic books, and the novels I read about heroines who were kind and gentle and still fierce and powerful. I wanted to be all these things. I wanted to be so much. Now, looking back, I wondered how I measured up against all those old standards and whether I was happy with that standard. I thought about fear, and how it can drive you away from those ideals to make compromises. I thought about all the things I’d done in my life and wondered if perhaps in too many ways I had compromised. If I’d let the fear win. How many days of my life were spent like this?
Worse, I thought about all the times that I had taken a risk and it had bitten me badly. You know what’s the worst part about taking risks? Sometimes they do go bad. And then, cynicism can set in. Bitterness too. And worst of all, you can turtle up like mad. So looking back, I realized a good deal of my time in the last few years had been spent doing this:
And was I happy with that, going into this potentially scary brain surgery? Nope. Not at all.
So let’s just say I made a few promises to myself. And then I headed into the hospital.
The actual surgery went really well. I went to sleep, I woke up, and Larry the tumor was Evicted. I Tweeted #LarryEvicted about my recovery, slept a lot, and met a young woman who ended up my roommate who had been through this surgery not once, but three times! After I heard her story, I promptly stopped complaining, drank my water, dealt with the pain in my head, and learned to be thankful. I am grateful that I had one of the best surgeons around, a specialist in Cushing’s disease, who operated on me. From the indications from the doctor’s findings, they’re pretty sure the tumor is benign, it is Cushing’s disease, and it might be at the root of a lot of my medical issues.
That said, I want to address one thing: remember what I was saying about technology? I want to sing it’s praises for one second. A doctor figured out that I had this disease by shooting radiation into my brain through an MRI machine. They took a picture, then looked at the picture. Then another doctor went into my brain through my nose and pulled out said tumor. And did so without me getting cut up or badly ill. I effectively feel, two days later, like I have a flu with a serious migraine attached. That, these days, is what happens when you take out a tiny tumor. From a brain.
Technology and the universe looking after you, right? Holycow.
So here I am now, recovering. This isn’t the best blog post Iv’e ever written, I’m sure, because I’m still a little out of it. Hence the memes. Because right now, I feel like this:
But secretly, down deep? I’m still in that ‘OMGWHATTHEHECK?!’ stage. It’s hard to process the idea that I just went through finding out I had a tumor, graduating grad school, going to Los Angeles, and having the tumor removed in a two week period. Now, on the other side of it, I’m still processing how scary all of this has been and how this has given me perspective on what I want my life to look like going forward. I’ve got a lot of changes I want to see in my life, and thanks to this doctor and the support of amazing folk, I have that chance. Oh yes, and thanks to Obamacare. Anyone wants to say nasty things about ObamaCare around me will be in the verbal battle of a lifetime, because without it I would never have been able to have a brain tumor removed. Controversial topic? Sure. But when I don’t stroke out or die over comorbidity issues associated with the side effects of Larry the tumor, I’ll be thanking ObamaCare.
So what now? I don’t know. For the next week I have to avoid coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose, standing up too fast, lifting things, and generally doing much of anything. I have books to read, episodes of Night Vale to listen to, television to watch (Orange is the New Black is out after all) and after that I have writing to do when I feel better. But for now, I’m going to settle for processing my inner freak out over having a doctor cut into my brain. And once that processes through and I’m feeling better, I’m going to go right into this:
May the rest of the summer be all about the party. And may I remember the lessons I’ve picked up from this prioritization session. Much love to everyone who supported me in this, and to Doctor Post and Doctor Geer, who are amazing.